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One-in-five HR workers likely to switch jobs this year

Emma-Louise Jones - Ciphr

New research* has found that around one in five (22%) people working in HR in the UK are considering leaving their organisation within the year.

Ciphr’s survey of 163 HR professionals – working mainly in administrative or middle-management positions – revealed that one in 10 people were actively job hunting and very likely to change employers, and one in eight (12%) were likely to; and intended to seek another position.

A further 44% said they would be open to moving jobs but it was unlikely and they’d currently made no plans to do so. The remaining third (34%) of those polled were reportedly happy to stay put for at least the next 12 months.

Among those who said they were likely or very likely to change employer, the most common reason cited was lack of job growth. Two-fifths (42%) of HR workers said they wanted more career progression, management responsibilities, or promotion opportunities than they were currently being offered.

A similar number (39%) were also looking to make a change to improve their work-life balance. Perhaps surprisingly, given the impact of the rising cost-of-living on wages, seeking a higher salary was only the third most popular reason for wanting to move to a new organisation, with just under a third (31%) of survey respondents reportedly feeling underpaid.

Poor leadership, which can greatly affect an individual and team’s performance, morale, and engagement, was also a concern for a quarter of those contemplating quitting their jobs.

Overall, HR workers aged between 35 and 44 years old appear, at least statistically, the most likely to be discontent with their current roles. Nearly a third (30%) of this age group, compared to one in seven (15%) 25-to-34-year-olds, and one in five (20%) of the over 45s, were likely or very likely to be seeking alternative employment.

The top reasons why HR professionals are looking to move jobs:

  • Lack of job growth: I want more career progression, management responsibilities, and promotion opportunities than my current employer offers (42%)
  • I want to improve my work-life balance (39%)
  • I want a higher salary: I am feeling underpaid in my current job (31%)
  • Lack of good / effective leadership at my current job (25%)5=   I want a more rewarding / fulfilling job (19%)
  • I want more job security (19%)
  • I want to gain new knowledge and skills (19%)
  • Lack of recognition: I am feeling undervalued in my current job (19%)
  • The HR team has no real power / authority to enact change in my current company (19%)
  • I want to leave HR: I want a different career / to switch careers (17%)
  • Insufficient training: I want better L&D opportunities than my current employer offers (17%)

Claire Williams, chief people officer at Ciphr, says: “It’s not uncommon for some HR professionals to feel overlooked when it comes to their own training and career development. They often spend so much time focusing on the rest of the business that their needs aren’t always prioritised and can go unmet. There may also be an assumption that, because they work in HR, they would naturally action their own development needs and apply best practice to themselves. This research is a good reminder to employers of the importance of supporting their HR team’s career aspirations, if they want to increase their chances of retaining them.

“While people obviously want to feel financially rewarded for the skills and experience that they bring to an organisation, they also want to feel invested in. They want to know that their employer appreciates and values them and that there are clearly defined training and development routes and promotion opportunities available to them. Because, if an employer is not doing what they can, where possible, to meet their worker’s current needs and priorities – such as providing good career progression, effective leadership, or a better work-life balance – it’s likely that another organisation will.

“Offering opportunities for career development can be challenging at times. Small team sizes, for example, can make it tricky to offer typical, vertical career progression. Therefore, employers and HR leaders should consider structuring their teams in a way that enables cross-specialist learning and upskilling, or involvement in wider business projects to build commercial awareness and a broader understanding of the organisation as a whole. This will both enrich the job as well as improving their HR capability in the longer term.”

Ciphr’s survey findings also showed that one in five (20%) respondents had already recently (within the last few months) changed employers for a better paying job, due to rising living costs. And, over a third (34%) had taken time off due to feeling stressed or overwhelmed.

*Ciphr conducted an online survey of 163 people working in human resources in the UK in April 2023. The results are available at www.ciphr.com/15-reasons-why-hr-professionals-want-to-leave-their-jobs.

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