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Lack of Career Development Hampering the Happiness of HR

Gemma Shambler | 11th December 2019

The happiness of HR professionals is being held back by a lack of career development… so reveals our inaugural HR Happiness Index.

The finding comes from new research we conducted in November 2019 in the week leading up to the CIPD annual conference. HR professionals were asked to rate their level on the 20 factors driving happiness in the workplace out of 10. The two factors where HR professionals reported the highest levels of happiness were: “Commitment to helping the organisation succeed” (8.4), and “How well they got on with people at work” (7.8). The lowest two factors both related to learning and development in terms of “Satisfaction with the opportunity to progress their careers” (5.8) and “Amount of training on offer” (6.1).  

Matt Phelan, Chief Happiness Officer at The Happiness Index comments: “The Happiness Index believe that the organisations who succeed enable their people to feel like a human, not a number. Whilst HR teams are at the forefront of educating organisations on the importance of creating happy and thriving work cultures, we saw worrying signs that this was at the expense of their own happiness. We set out to investigate, launching the inaugural research measuring the happiness of HR professionals.”

HR professionals rated their overall happiness at work as 6.8 on average, well below the average benchmark recorded by The Happiness Index (7.7). 

Happiness by Seniority

There was a marked difference in the levels of happiness in HR when analysed by seniority. Perhaps unsurprisingly board executives reported the highest levels of happiness (8.1) whilst the happiness of those in management and non-management lagged well behind (6.8 and 6.3 respectively).

Happiness by Age

Unlike seniority, there was little difference in happiness scores when analysed by age, between “Generation X” (7.0), “Baby Boomers” (6.7) and “Millennials” (6.7). The newest entrants into the workplace, Generation Z demonstrated the highest levels of happiness (7.6).

Happiness by Sector

There were marked differences in happiness scores when analysed by sector. “Independent workers” reported higher levels of happiness (7.7) than those in “Business-to-business” and “Business-to consumer” (7.0 and 6.9 respectively). Those working in the non-profit sector reporting the lowest (6.4). 

Happiness by Region

Examining happiness by region highlighted that the happiness of HR professionals in “Europe” (7.6) and “North America” (7.1) was markedly higher than in “Asia” (6.0). However, those in the UK are less happy than their European peer group (6.8). 

Happiness by Size

When it comes to company size, HR professionals working in SME organisations (up to 250 employees) were the happiest (7.4) with a decline in score the larger the organisation became: “250-5,000” employees (6.6), “5,000–10,000” employees (6.3),  and “10,000–100,000” employees (6.1).

The key drivers of Hr professionals’ happiness

Correlation analysis revealed three key drivers behind the happiness of HR professionals:

1.      The clarity of the link between an HR professional’s role and the success of the organisation

2.      How much an HR professional feels that they can be themselves at work

3.      How well an HR professional gets on with people at work

Matt continues: “Our findings highlight where Executive teams and organisations should focus their efforts if they want to effect change. If we’re to develop the HR leaders of the future more attention needs to be paid to creating clear career paths, motivating and retaining those in more junior HR roles, and ensuring that they have a voice in the boardroom.”

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