Confidence High in HR

Practitioners are feeling good about their jobs.

By Jen Schramm Sep 9, 2016
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HR professionals are a pretty confident bunch these days, with executives and new hires alike feeling good about their profession. Those new to the work and just beginning their climb up the career ladder are particularly optimistic, especially about their job security, according to the latest Society for Human Resource Management HR Jobs Pulse, a survey report focused on hiring trends in the trade.

Overall, three-quarters of the U.S.-based HR professionals said they were “not at all concerned” about their job security. One-quarter of respondents reported some degree of concern in 2016, down from 2014 when nearly 4 in 10 said they were somewhat anxious about keeping their jobs. Today, early-career HR pros are the most confident, while mid-career and senior HR workers are the least.

Still, if they lost their jobs, 88 percent of all HR professionals had some degree of certainty that they could land a new position. That optimism is particularly well-founded for generalists, who are in high demand, and those specializing in recruiting, since many organizations report having trouble finding qualified people to fill key jobs.

The HR areas most in demand at organizations that report they are hiring are:

• Generalists (49 percent).

• Employment/recruitment (31 percent).

• Administration (15 percent).

• Benefits (14 percent).

• Employee relations (13 percent).

• Compensation (9 percent).

• Training/development (9 percent).

• Organizational development (8 percent).

Among respondents seeking new positions, it’s no surprise that pay is the key driver. After all, HR has experienced the same slow growth in wages as nearly every other sector in recent years. Of those who said they were seeking a new job or planning to look for one, more than 2 out of 5 (42 percent) said “more compensation/pay” was the reason. That was followed by “better overall career advancement opportunities” (37 percent) and “better organizational culture” (31 percent).

However, fewer HR professionals are looking for new work now compared with a year ago. Today, 81 percent say they are unlikely to start a job search.

The top reasons they are staying put are:

• Flexibility to balance work and life issues (41 percent).

• Positive relationships with colleagues/co-workers (38 percent).

• Compensation/pay (33 percent).

The outlook revealed by the survey reflects the resiliency of the overall U.S. job market and positive forecasts for job growth in HR, especially at the management level. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that employment of human resource managers will grow 9 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the 7 percent average for all occupations. This expansion may be why those just starting out in the profession are feeling so optimistic. Perhaps it’s why they chose to go into HR in the first place. 

Jen Schramm is manager of the Workforce Trends program at SHRM.

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