Data from the UK and USA reveals a strong growth in human resource (HR) job creation. Organisational responses to the global Covid-19 pandemic and the socio-political upheaval caused by the #Metoo and Black lives Matters movement has brought HR skills and knowledge to the forefront. In this blog Dr Elaine Yerby, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management, explores key growth areas and how HR professionals can both upskill and protect themselves from accompanying increased levels of stress within the profession.
HR teams became instrumental to businesses trying to survive during the pandemic and had to adapt quickly to the changing external conditions. They lead on previously little used areas of employment law such as furlough schemes as well as managing more established processes such as redundancies and restructuring.
Flexible and hybrid working patterns, organisational change management, and diversity and inclusion whilst all traditional domains of HR expertise came to the forefront during the crisis and specialists in these areas were in high demand.
As UK businesses seek to re-build from the pandemic and in the face of new global recessionary threats the demand for HR jobs and skills remains high. The 2022 LinkedIn Jobs on the Rise survey identifies the 25 fastest growing job titles advertised through their platform. Diversity and Inclusion Manager is the second fastest growing job title and Chief HR Officer makes the top 25. Talent Acquisition Manager (recruiter by its more common name) is 12th place in the list and demonstrates the ongoing challenge for organisations to fill vacancies.
Research by Reed also reveals the demand for Compensation and Reward managers is also high, as the growth in hybrid forms of work means organisations significantly re-thinking their reward and benefit packages.
If the time is now for HR jobs, candidates need to ensure they are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills that organisations are looking for. Upskilling in areas of diversity and inclusion, data analytics and specialism in reward management and change management are likely to bring fruitful career benefits. Whilst the future is certainly looking bright for HR professionals and those looking to enter the profession, a cautionary note is struck by the accompanying high levels of stress now reported within the HR profession.
The HR profession has historically been exposed to high degrees of emotional labour. Emotional labour relates to the difference between the ‘felt’ emotions of HR practitioners as they carry out their day- to- day roles and those emotions displayed to other employees and managers.
Due to the requirement for suppressing real emotions and surface acting, emotional labour is linked to increased stress and burnout. It is evident that both the unprecedented workloads experienced by HR professionals during the pandemic and the emotional labour required in supporting organisational restructuring and change has taken a significant toll.
As businesses seek to build back from the pandemic a key driver must be a focus on wellbeing of all employees, including those tasked with looking after the needs of others in the organisation. HR leaders also have a shared responsibility to focus on stress management and enhancing wellbeing in the profession and to make this integral to the debates about job growth and expansion.
If you are looking to upskill or are interested in finding out new ways to support your HR development, take a look at our MSc Human Resource Management, a specialist Masters programme which aims to provide HR practitioners and recent graduates with the skills to navigate a successful career in HR and management.
Senior Lecturer in Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management, Essex Business School, University of Essex
I am a committed researcher- practitioner in HRM and experienced Senior Lecturer. I completed my Masters in HRM whilst working full time in a variety of HR roles for the Metropolitan Police Service, including Employee Engagement and Communication Manager for a large scale HR Transformational programme. My doctoral studies explored HR managerial careers through a feminist poststructuralist and intersectional lens. Other research interests and areas of publication include; the impact on careers from the changing nature of work, the gig economy, work-based conflict resolution and diversity and inclusion.
I have a keen interest in HR careers and supporting the development of those working in the profession. I have been an active member of the London CIPD HR professional network for over 10 years and I am currently Co-Chair of the East London and Docklands CIPD Branch and sit on the CIPD London Committee. I am also an accredited workplace mediator and am a founding member of a Pan-London University mediation community of practice and service.