An exclusive survey of HR professionals suggests the recession is having a positive effect on their careers, their capabilities and their confidence.
An exclusive survey conducted for Personnel Today by recruiter Hays Human Resources suggests HR professionals feel their role is invaluable during the recession.
Most of the 269 HR professionals surveyed are confident about their roles since the economic downturn has taken hold: 45% say it has increased their value, and 35% believe it will carry on as usual. Just one-fifth have lost confidence in the security of the profession (see graph A).
"The role of the HR professional has really gained visibility in this recession," says Julie Waddicor, national operations director at Hays HR.
"The traditional image of HR just hiring and firing is outdated and not in line with current responsibilities – people in the wider organisation are starting to realise this. The pressure is on to streamline teams, have transparent procedures and engage staff in a time when resources are limited."
Perhaps as a result of this status boost, jobs in HR appear to be relatively secure – three-quarters (74%) of respondents said there had been no job cuts in their department as a result of the recession.
Asked what the biggest change in the HR profession was since they had begun their careers (see graph B), most respondents said it was now more strategic (65%) and more commercially focused (61%). A significant proportion also have a greater focus on learning and development (22%) and rewards and benefits (12%).
"The role of the HR professional is constantly evolving and has gone from once being a support or risk management function, to being more strategic and proactive," adds Waddicor. "Organisations realise that people strategies such as talent management, strong recruitment processes and staff engagement are critical to an organisation's success. HR professionals are responsible for designing and delivering these strategies and ensuring they are aligned to business objectives."
Almost half (47%) of those questioned didn't set out for a career in HR – they effectively 'fell into' the profession (see graph C) – and more than one-third (36%) came from an admin background. While this suggests