One in five HR professionals ‘do not feel valued by their business’

Poll suggests some regard themselves as remote from senior leadership, though career satisfaction remains high

More than a fifth of HR professionals do not feel their function is valued in their organisation, a new survey has shown. 

The poll found 22 per cent did not think their function was valued, with many of them saying it was not considered part of senior leadership or that it was still viewed as a 'back office' function.

However, the vast majority of respondents said they were appreciated by their business. And experts said previous data suggested HR was overwhelmingly viewed as a meaningful function. 

Responses from those surveyed revealed that some HR staff felt they were seen as "a department that provides eye test vouchers or to sit and moan to”, rather than a key part of the company, while one respondent noted: “HR isn’t involved in some high level HR issues, never mind general business issues. We are seen as a back office function.”

Respondents also said they “would like to think HR would have greater involvement in strategic business decisions.”

The survey was conducted by Natural HR and polled 219 HR professionals.

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Sarah Dowzell, co-founder of Natural HR, said it was ”shocking that so many HR professionals still don’t feel included in top level strategic decision making,” especially as recruitment and retention were becoming strategically important issues in a broader range of businesses.

The survey found recruitment and retention of staff was cited as a priority for next year by 68 per cent of respondents, while 42 per cent said recruitment was the area of their work they found most challenging.

A third (33 per cent) found employee retention a challenge, and 36 per cent said they struggled with engagement and experience. 

Tom Hadley, director of policy and campaigns at the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), said it was “no surprise that many HR staff are worried about finding and keeping the right staff” given the tight labour market, and suggested organisations should avoid looking at recruitment and retention as separate issues.

“Good recruitment helps employers find the right person for the right job and actively ensure they settle in well. This involves advertising to a wide and diverse pool of candidates and selecting people based on skills,” said Hadley

“Recruitment professionals can help businesses get the hiring and onboarding process right, and this can make all the difference when it comes to employee retention and productivity,” he added.

According to the CIPD’s People Profession in 2018 report, the majority of HR staff (78 per cent) see their job as a meaningful career. But 28 per cent of those polled did report a conflict between their professional judgement and what their organisation expects of them.

Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said the role of HR was becoming “increasingly vital as the world of work evolves and organisations and people need to adapt.”

Speaking at the time the report was launched, Cheese said: “Having confidence in our own professional judgement is crucial to making better decisions in the workplace. 

“Even though it might challenge some of the norms or expectations, having the self-assurance with knowledge, insights and evidence to make good and fair judgements is key to helping our profession build trust and credibility and help us stay at the fore of business development and change.”