Raise your hand if you are in human resources, and you feel stressed and burned out? Human resource leaders love their job, but a recent report shows that many HR professionals are considering leaving HR due to feeling overworked and understaffed.  

1,000 HR Leaders and C-suite executives were part of a recent survey conducted for Sage’s The Changing Face of HR in 2024 report. Out of 1000 interviewed, almost 950 stated that “HR is simply too much work.”  

Further interviewing revealed that 91% of the study group feel the last few years (since the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic) have been particularly challenging for multiple reasons. As a result, 84% of the professionals said they feel stressed on a regular basis, while 81% said they feel “burned out,” and 62% are seriously considering leaving the profession due to these feelings.

What’s Causing These Feelings? 

Of the 1,000 professionals interviewed in this report, half work at organizations with 50 to 250 employees, while the other half work at organizations with 250 to 2,000 employees. All respondents worked in high-skill sectors: e-commerce retail, financial services, insurance, professional services, technology, and telecommunication.  

Many HR leaders and C-suite executives agreed that HR needs to take on more of a consultancy role with a greater strategic focus. Seventy-three percent of HR leaders and 76 percent of C-suite executives said that the balance of HR work is still too administrative and process-focused.  

According to Amanda Cusdin, Sage’s Chief People Officer, “Considering the acute shortage of talent, the Great Resignation and the quiet quitting phenomenon that a lot of organizations are facing, business leaders need to prioritize investment in technology and increase upskilling the HR department.”  

Ninety-two percent of respondents stated that the sheer workload they’re responsible for will be a significant barrier to future success in 2024. Tight budgets, limited resources, and lacking the right skills in the HR team are additional barriers.


The Technical Side of Things 

Slightly more than half of HR leaders surveys said tech adoption at their organizations is for the following: 

  • Virtual assistance—51 percent.  
  • A global HR system—52 percent.  
  • Automation—54 percent.  
  • Mobile HR systems—56 percent.  
  • People analytics, cloud HR or employee self-service—59 percent.  

More than 3/4 of respondents cited lacking the right HR technology as a challenge heading into 2024. There’s a clear need for technology that would streamline tactical and transactional work, allowing more time to focus on strategic initiatives. 

Times Are A-Changin’, and so is HR’s Role 

The survey unearthed some interesting paradoxes—57 percent of HR leaders said they love their profession, while 62 percent are considering exiting it.  

Years after the pandemic, which placed new demands on HR professionals almost daily, HR Magazine reports that burnout remains a genuine concern. Like many other essential teams, HR had to face complex issues. Brand-new processes had to be put into place quickly. They needed best practices to handle the challenges that the pandemic presented. Many rapid and lasting changes to how and where employees worked forced HR to uncover and develop ways to maintain safe work environments. It also changed how HR recruited, onboarded, engaged, and offboarded employees working hybrid, remote schedules. 

As mentioned in Sage’s study, “The rate of change in HR in recent years has been eye-watering, thanks to the pandemic and seismic shifts in the workplace—and the world itself.” The report also noted that 91 percent of HR leaders and 96 percent of C-suite executives said HR’s role has changed dramatically over the past five years. In fact, 73 percent of HR leaders and 85 percent of C-suite executives said the term “human resources” is outdated and “the days of HR being seen as … simply managing ‘humans as a resource’ should have moved on”. Some respondents suggested “people function” or “people and culture” as more accurate job descriptions.   

HR leaders and executives said that HR’s role will continue to change “a great deal” over the next five years. While they’re excited about the future of their profession, the majority still have concerns about the near term, especially regarding a potentially turbulent economy. Ninety-three percent of respondents agreed that the economic climate will pose a challenge. 

The Skills Dilemma 

A whopping 94% of HR and business leaders agreed that a lack of skills is a barrier to future HR success. However, there’s some disconnect among these leaders regarding the top skills needed in HR. 

HR leaders ranked the following as the top three skills needed in HR teams:  

  1. Leadership and management skills
  2. Teamwork skills
  3. Coaching/mentoring/training facilitation skills 

C-Suite leaders chose the following as their top three: 

  1. Leadership and management skills 
  2. Financial skills
  3. Analytical skills

Skills were just one area HR and C-Suite leaders had differing opinions. They also had different ideas about what HR’s top priorities should be in 2024.  

What Does HR Need to Succeed in 2024? 

Looking ahead to 2024, HR leaders stated the top seven things they need to succeed are: 

  1. Increased upskilling in HR
  2. More tech expertise within HR
  3. Investment in HR specialties, such as diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives 
  4. Increased well-being initiatives to ward against burnout 
  5. Better peer-to-peer support networks in HR 
  6. More support networks within their company  
  7. More understanding of HR’s role.  

Find out how the right human resources technology and HR support can help you and your team meet these above needs and better equip you for an ever-changing world and economy.

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