More than three in five (61%) UK HR professionals have had to upskill or reskill in the past year, with many having to do so in order to meet immediate business needs.
Although 89% of people professionals across the UK and Ireland engaged in some form of L&D in the past year, the CIPD and Workday 2022 people profession survey, which asks HR professionals how their work has changed over the past 12 months, found that many of the capability gaps identified in 2021 remain the same this year.
These priorities include supporting line managers with their people management duties; facilitating more flexibile people operations; and organisational development and change management skills.
The proportion of HR professonals in Ireland who had to upskill or reskill was higher, at 72%.
One-third of the people professionals surveyed (34% in the UK and 31% in Ireland) said they had needed to upskill in order to respond to immediate business needs, while 22% in the UK and 32% in Ireland did so to develop longer-term capabilities.
However, 39% of respondents in the UK (39%) haven’t needed to adapt their skillset, compared with 28% in Ireland. This suggests that many perceive general HR skills as relevant and aligned to the needs of their organisation.
The report also finds that the pandemic had taken its toll on the mental heath of many HR professionals. Only 55% of UK and 42% of Irish respondents rated their mental health as good or very good, and three in 10 UK people professionals said their mental and physical wellbeing is negatively impacted by their work.
One respondent said they had “crashed and burned”, but had since learned to prioritise self care.
Those with negative views about their career progression were more likely to rate their wellbeing as poor or very poor.
HR skills and capabilities
CIPD chief executive Peter Cheese said: “It’s fantastic to see the continued commitment to learning and development and the ongoing efforts around professionalisation, and the positive contribution to organisation’s overall strategy. However, it’s crucial we also take time to look after ourselves and our own wellbeing, especially in the current context we face.
“Our expertise and skills have never been as vital and we should continue building on lessons from the pandemic to ensure the people profession is future fit, through consistent upskilling, and adapting to new technology and ways of working.”
The report identifies several opportunities for HR, including:
- using workforce planning to assess current and future workforce needs to help HR understand skills gaps and plan ahead
- implementing flexible and agile working models, structures and processes, including how HR can support line managers to manage dispersed teams
- looking ahead, rather than putting too much weight on meeting present needs.
Michael Douroux, group vice president, Northern Europe and South Africa, at Workday, said: “HR professionals have been thrust into the spotlight amongst the uncertainty that the world has experienced over the past few years. They have been tasked with supporting workforces through both personal and private lives while attracting and retaining talent in a highly competitive market.
“Alongside supporting the workforce, HR leaders also need to support themselves and build resilience within their own teams. With the rulebook on what is ‘normal’ continually being rewritten, successful leaders must support their teams during these changing times.”
The survey involved 1,496 respondents in the UK and 125 in Ireland.