'Rising stress levels' | 4 in 10 HR professionals unprepared for 2021

4 in 10 HR professionals unprepared for 2021

With the New Year fast approaching, new research has found that a significant portion of HR professionals are not prepared for 2021 which could lead to rising stress levels in the function.

Shockingly, over four in ten (43%) respondents don’t believe that their people teams have the capacity to address employee engagement and workforce planning needs in 2021.

On the flip side, this means that just over half (57%) believe that their team has the capacity to address these areas of work.

The 400-strong survey of HR professionals – which was published by employee experience platform Culture Amp in a study titled ‘How companies are embracing a new future’ – found that this situation is unlikely to change anytime soon.

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For example, with regards to workforce planning, the research found that 37% of HR professionals across a variety of industry sectors have halted new hires or have at least considered imposing hiring freezes.

In addition to this, the study shed light on how changing work models have piled even more pressure on HR professionals.

Before the coronavirus outbreak, just five per cent of companies had most staff working remotely. Yet, nowadays, three-quarters (75%) admitted that most employees are fully remote. This change is something that HR, along with other business functions, likely had to manage when the pandemic hit.

While there have been many workplace changes for HR to oversee – whether this has been the move to homeworking, employee engagement and wellbeing in a virtual context among other things – the research found that HR team size has largely remained the same during this time despite increasing workloads.

72% of respondents said that there was no change in staffing levels since the outbreak. Even for those organisations experiencing increased demand for product offerings and services, just one-fifth (20%) have strengthened the HR team to cope with these increased workloads.

These findings, according to the study, raise concerns over the function’s ability to handle changing workloads. These concerns are in light of previous Culture Amp research, which found that 57% of HR professionals were already finding stress levels difficult to manage.

Dr Kenneth Matos, Director of People Science at Culture Amp, explained that the coronavirus crisis has forced many changes within organisations and has subsequently piled extra pressure on HR to “solve unprecedented problems”. Matos explained:

“In most instances, existing operations and policies have been adapted to new circumstances, which in itself can be a challenge.”

To help the HR function become “effective change agents”, the Culture Amp director said that people teams need to have a strategy that considers both short and long-term needs as well as sufficient support, necessary resources and cooperation for key areas of the business.

“A well-equipped HR function can then make judicious decisions and effectively implement them as they adapt their employee feedback strategy, performance management, headcount plans, and policies to support employees – while helping maintain their own sense of wellbeing at the same time,” Matos added.

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