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Employee Engagement

HR and benefits professionals are employees too – and according to a new report, it is they who continue to feel undervalued, citing feelings of an ‘us’ and ‘them’ culture with HR being excluded from the top table. According to HR and payroll software provider Natural HR’s research, HR in 2021 and beyond: trends, challenges and priorities facing the people profession, one in five people working in HR said they felt undervalued, and top of their reasons for this was the lack of investment in HR during what has been a very difficult 12 months.

The impact that the challenges of the past year has had on respondents’ morale was found to be significant. Comments from some included: “There is minimal to no investment in HR departments and activities,” and “the directors make all the decisions, sometimes with no regard to fairness or HR best practice.” One respondent added: “HR is not involved in the process but when things go wrong, as we were not consulted, HR is always the one to pick up the pieces.”

More positive findings however, came in the fact that the research also revealed the measures HR would be introducing to smooth the next year ahead. It found the top three HR initiatives planned for 2021 were those around mental health (73%), health and wellbeing (68%), and flexible working (60%).

When asked what they felt would be the challenges in the year ahead, almost a third (32%) said employee engagement, as they have to find new ways to virtually engage staff while many are working remotely.

The research suggested most HR professionals would be continuing to allow staff to work from home for the foreseeable future (63%). One in five said they would be leaving this decision to employees, while 70% of HR professionals polled said they would provide more flexible working options.

Commenting on these findings, Chris Bourne, head of marketing, said: “Despite one of the most challenging years many HR leaders will ever face, and despite the findings showing HR feels undervalued, what’s heartening is that they are making the best out of a difficult situation. We found they are still doing everything they can do to ensure the wellbeing, happiness and morale of their people.”

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