HR resignations on the rise as impact of recession takes its toll


The harsh reality of making people redundant during the recession has caused a number of HR professionals to “cut and run” from their jobs, exclusive research has revealed.

One-third of HR professionals leaving their jobs in the past year have done so out of choice, rather than being made redundant, according to the Celre HR Salary Survey 2009-10, published by XpertHR.

Of the total 15.1% labour turnover across the HR sector, the number of staff resigning has risen to 5.2% this year, up from 4.5% in 2008.

Report author Mark Crail, head of benchmarking and data services at XpertHR, said labour turnover in the HR sector was at its highest level since 2004. “Redundancies and retirements are both up, as you would expect in a recession. But resignations have also increased, which is quite unexpected. Usually when times are tough, people who have a job tend to sit tight.”

Gordon Barker, director of consulting at retention firm TalentDrain, told Personnel Today that HR staff, many of whom have been faced with making job cuts and tough decisions during 2009, could have been put off a long-term career in the profession.

“Workers from any sector will use the recession to look at the bigger picture and consider their options,” he said. “HR staff may be thinking now is a good time to cut and run because of the unpleasant aspects of the job.”

HR professionals – the majority of whom are women – may be considering starting a family, or relocating with their partners, he added.

Duncan Brown, director of reward services at the Institute for Employment Studies, said half of those resigning were probably leaving the profession altogether, but the other half were likely to have secured better jobs elsewhere.

“Some HR people have had a tough year and thought: ‘Do I want to do this?’, but there are probably equal numbers who have been in demand because of their skills and restructuring experience,” he said.

He warned the outlook for public sector HR staff was “more negative” for 2010, as the government begins to make sweeping spending cuts and introduce wide-scale shared services.

The Celre data is based on 130 organisations, covering 7,147 HR staff.


Pay and bonuses in the HR sector

HR directors’ basic pay rose year-on-year by 4.9% to £140,019. However, taking account of cuts in bonuses, they suffered a 0.2% fall in take-home pay to a median of £185,072. Senior function heads took home 7% less total pay than in 2008, earning £127,095 this year. Excluding bonuses, they received £109,596 – a 3.3% rise. The basic salary for HR staff at all levels, including bonuses, increased by 0.8%, and excluding bonuses by 3.8%.



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