HR pros are burnt out and ready to exit


Study shows that HR is facing a seminal moment and it’s time for a big rebrand.

A recent study shows that 81 percent of HR professionals are feeling burnt out and 62 percent are considering leaving the industry.

The Sage research ‘The changing face of HR in 2024’ further highlights that 92 percent of C-suite executives believe that the perceived value of HR is a challenge for the profession.

The data, of more than 1,000 HR and C-suite leaders working across six countries including South Africa, “signals that now could be a seminal moment for the HR industry and it’s time for HR’s big rebrand”.

The majority of HR leaders and C-suite executives also believe that the term ‘human resources’ is outdated. Furthermore, 91 percent of HR leaders say the scope of HR’s remit has changed dramatically over the last few years – and 96 percent of the C-suite agree.

Sonia Tshabalala, regional people director, Sage AMEA, said, "A cynic might ask: What’s in a name? But the reality is that talking about humans as resources is the dehumanising language of the industrial age. It creates the perception that HR is all about compliance, administration of hirings and firings, and cost optimisation. Today, however, HR is a strategic business function that plays a vital role in building a more competitive business."

She added, "HR leaders are often the unsung heroes of an organisation but have demonstrated their influence, visibility, agility, and impact over the last few years more than ever. Rebranding the function, in this context, is not a simple name change. It is a way to highlight why HR plays a vital role in helping people and businesses reach their growth and development targets."

But over 60 percent of C-suite execs still see HR’s role as administrative, while less than half of HR leaders say they believe employees are knowledgeable about what HR does.

Traditionally workforce planning and culture sit under the HR remit, however many business leaders don’t expect HR to play a leading role in these areas, according to the survey.

Amanda Cusdin, chief people officer at Sage, said, “HR leaders are often the unsung heroes of an organisation, but over the last few years have demonstrated their influence, visibility, agility and impact more than ever.”

She added, “Considering the acute shortage of talent, the great resignation, and the quiet quitting phenomenon that a lot of organisations are facing, business leaders need to prioritise investment in technology, and increase upskilling the HR department. As a sector, we need to embrace tech that relieves HR professionals of the admin tasks and empowers them to focus more on strategy, supporting businesses and employees to reach their growth and development targets.”

While HR leaders are trying to evolve their functions from predominantly administrative to more strategic, 73 percent of HR leaders and 76 percent of the C-suite say the balance often tips in favour of admin.

The future of HR
Limited budgets, lack of resources and not having leadership support are the top challenges HR leaders expect to deal with in 2024.

When asked what the profession will need to be successful, two things feature highly on HR leaders’ lists: a boost in HR skills and increased investment in specialisms, while 40 percent also want more technological know-how, and 33 percent want better peer-to-peer support networks within HR.

As for the top priorities for HR in 2024, HR leaders and the C-suite agree that talent management should be at the top of the list. Diversity, equity and inclusion, and employee health and wellbeing are the next top priorities for HR leaders, while the C-suite feels HR should focus more on financial growth, and efficiency and productivity.

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