Care for HR teams has been overlooked during pandemic

More than half (58.6%) of HR professionals in the UK say they are not being supported by their employer and that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased their workload.

Nearly all (95.1%) HR professionals who responded to a survey by HR software company Breathe said their workload has increased since March 2020.

Updating company policies (21.4%) and recruitment related admin (17.3%) were cited as the two key areas HR staff are now spending more time on.

Maintaining employee records (15.8%) and furlough management (15.1%) came in as the next tasks.

Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe, said HR teams have been a badly hit part of many businesses during the pandemic.

He told HR magazine: “It’s shocking to see the extent to which these professionals are feeling unsupported, and the varied tasks the past 18 months have thrown up at them.

“As we emerge out of this, I think a key area will be for businesses to check in on their HR teams more.

“Understanding where their pain points are and helping to alleviate them will be crucial to getting making HR teams feel best supported.”

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Health and safety requirements created by the pandemic, such as social distancing in the office, have meant existing HR policies are no longer fit for purpose.

Almost all (92.6%) of those surveyed said they now have to spend a lot of time adapting policies.

Richards said supporting HR teams as the country moves further into a post-pandemic working environment should be front of mind for business leaders, and stressed that "tangible action needs to be taken in order to safeguard their wellbeing".

He suggested increasing the headcount in HR teams "as the data from our survey shows many HR staff are having to manage various functions like payroll and finance admin on top of their usual responsibilities”. He also said that software could help automate some of the more straightforward but time-intensive admin and would reduce excessive workloads.

He urged businesses to watch for early signs of burnout and work-related fatigue: “These things have a nasty habit of festering, and unmanageable workloads can in many cases lead to resentment which in turn can spoil company culture.

“The most important thing is to remember that HR teams are made up of human beings who will themselves also need their teammates and managers to look out for them."