Benefits and Compensation

Just How Does HR Feel About Itself? Survey Says …

A survey of HR pros about their own profession found them well paid, but under-respected, empowered but challenged, and frustrated, drained, and tired even as they start the day.

HR Daily Advisor goes out to about 100,000 HR professionals each morning. Now, thanks to a survey by the opinion research consulting company, Discovery Surveys, Inc. (DSI), we think we may know you a little better.

Every 2 years, DSI sets out to assess just how HR professionals feel about their job, their place in the organization, their careers and their lives. The survey shows a continuous portrait over time of how life in HR is changing.

We recently got the 2006 report on the survey, with data gathered from 545 HR pros, 89 percent of whom were in senior positions with more than 10 years on the job and 5 years with the same organization.

DSI looked at the responses on their own, and also compared them to norms set from previous surveys of 50,000 employees of all stripes. The idea was to see how HR people compared in their feelings with “the average employee” in their organizations.

The results were fascinating. See if you see yourself in the likeness they draw:

Comp and Benefits: A strong majority of HR people (more than 60 percent) feel they are fairly compensated, both internally in their organizations and as compared to their peers elsewhere. This is some 20 points higher than “the average employee.” On the other hand, these HR pros are largely critical of the means used to determine their success. Only 56 percent see a clear link between their pay and performance, and surprisingly (or maybe not) they are highly critical of the very performance appraisal systems they are called on to administer. Only 42 percent feel current PAs are useful.

Workload: Most HR pros think their workload is reasonable, and some 69 percent feel they’ve gotten the training they need for their jobs. That good feeling about training doesn’t translate to employees in general, where the positive score on training is some 20 points lower.

Major Challenges. Here’s a category that’s changed over time. In past surveys, HR professionals listed downsizing and cost reduction as key challenges. Today’s high hurdles: managing change and organizational development, at 45 percent and 38 percent agreement, respectively.

Respect. Most HR people surveyed feel they have the authority they need on their jobs, and some 77 percent compliment the relationships their departments have with others. However, the old complaint about HR not getting the respect it deserves lives on, even in this day of rising awareness of the importance of people management to an organization. Only 62 percent feel HR is perceived as more than a support function, and less than half consider their budget sufficient to their needs.

Supervision. Though HR pros feel supported by their own bosses, only 55 percent think their supervisors do a good job of solving people problems.

Emotions. Do you feel frustrated and emotionally drained? Join the club. Some three-quarters of HR pros surveyed share these feelings about the job. More than half called themselves burned out and overstressed, and a similar number feel tired even as they wake up in the morning.

The Future. These feelings may be translating into career plans. Although 67 percent say they believe they have a good future within their organizations, only 40 percent plan to be there in 3 years, and only a quarter want to remain until retirement. More than one-third are actively looking for work elsewhere, and another 23 percent would like to move into consulting. The remaining 27 percent want out of HR entirely.

If these HR pros, now at the top of their profession, could start all over, would they again choose HR? Only 59 percent said Yes. What would your answer be?

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