HR leaders escape worst jobs cull since 9/11

Proof of the value chief executives are placing on their people managers has emerged with figures showing that HR managers are surviving the worst round of redundancies since 11 September, 2001.

The 2008 National Management Salary Survey, released this week by the Chartered Management Institute and salary experts CELRE, shows that management redundancies have doubled in the last 12 months.

But while the national average rate of manager redundancies was 3% in the last 12 months, only 1.7% of HR leaders faced the chop. Almost 4% of finance managers were made redundant, along with almost 5% of those in sales, marketing and retail.

Meanwhile, HR professionals’ salaries increased by an average of 6.5% in the 12 months to May 2008, well ahead of peers in finance, insurance and pensions management.

Charles Cotton, rewards adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, said HR was “holding its own” during the economic downturn.

“We think it demonstrates our relative effectiveness as a professional body in increasing the number of qualified HR professionals,” Cotton told Personnel Today. “HR jobs might actually be safer, given the need to handle effectively the various people issues that arise during tougher economic times.”

Cotton forecasts that careers for HR managers may grow in number over the next 10 years, regardless of rising redundancies caused by the economic turmoil.

“Routine HR administration will be increasingly rationalised with the aid of changes to work practices and technology, so staffing levels will fall,” Cotton said. “But if HR becomes a more knowledge-based profession, the demand for HR staff will increase in the coming decade.”

His thoughts were supported by Neil Carberry, head of employment at the CBI.

“These figures reflect the premium that businesses will attach to quality HR staff and good employee relations, especially during these economically challenging times,” he said.

Participants in the 2008 survey, which polled more than 40,000 professionals, predicted that basic manager salary rates would increase 3.7% during the next 12 months, while company pay bills would rise by 4.6%.

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