HR staff redeployed internally rather than made redundant to retain skills

HR chiefs have doubled the number of HR staff they redeploy internally over the past year as a way of hanging on to key skills without making redundancies, research will reveal today.

The 2009 National Management Salary Survey, to be published by Personnel Today’s sister organisation Celre, in collaboration with the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), shows that the ‘internal transfer’ rate within HR functions has practically doubled in the past year, rising to 8.1% – up from 4.3% in 2008, and 1.6% during the 1991 downturn.

The survey of 5,752 HR staff found that 5.2% of function heads had been transferred to work in crucial areas of the function, like talent management or restructuring, while just 1.2% had been made redundant in the past 12 months. The study also revealed that employers were particularly keen to retain junior staff, with 6.6% having been transferred, compared to the 1.3% made redundant.

Petra Wilton, director of policy and research at the CMI, said employers’ determination to retain skilled staff and focus on key services showed they were “growing up”.

“It is encouraging to see employers looking for ways to avoid redundancy rather than adding length to the dole queue without a second thought,” she said. “Perhaps it is because employers are finally beginning to recognise that retaining competence is a far more cost effective option than rebuilding a talented team from scratch.”

But the data also showed that the majority of employers are struggling to retain key staff, despite the global downturn, with just under half of the respondents blaming the salaries they can offer.

HR salary survey round-up

The median salary for an HR director now stands at £120,000, according to the Celre/CMI survey, while junior professionals can expect to take home just £21,112 (see salary barometer, left). Overall, however, take-home pay for HR practitioners has dropped by 1.8% on average to 4.8% (see chart above).

Mark Crail, managing editor at Celre, said: “Employers are reacting quickly to the tough economic climate, with pay awards falling and many salary reviews this year resulting in pay freezes.

“Employers now need to move beyond pounds and pence to look at the other incentives they can offer within the overall remuneration package to motivate staff without breaking the bank.”

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