HR coining it despite changing times

The economy may be facing an uncertain future - but it's clearly a good time to be in HR...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

According to the latest salary survey figures from the Chartered Management Institute, HR professionals are making hay despite the current stormy climate, enjoying an average pay rise of 6.6% last year. Junior execs did even better than managers, with their average salary rising to £21,643 (and wait until you see how HR directors are doing – check out our Global Salary Survey in next month’s MT).

To be fair, some HR people have had to work a bit harder for these inflation-busting pay rises. The survey uncovered a redundancy rate of 3% across senior management teams in the UK, which is twice as high as last year. Others have been busy managing people out of the business – resignations last year stood at 6.5%, the second-highest figure in a decade. On the other hand, lots of these people were actually jumping ship from HR – 7.3% handed in their notice last year (so these pay rises might have been either to attract new recruits or keep the old ones). With this much turnover in the don't-call-it-Personnel department, it’s no wonder that 80% of companies are finding it hard to fill vacant roles across the rest of the business.

We suspect there may be a few raised eyebrows that the ‘Human Remains’ department seems to be doing so well. After all, at a time when most companies are battening down the hatches for the forthcoming storm, you’d expect those staff directly contributing the bottom line to be the best rewarded. Of course, HR professionals will tell you that their role has become more strategic as big companies outsource their admin stuff, so they deserve to be paid more.

But this outsourcing has also added to the confusion about what HR actually does. Their remit seems to change so often that it’s hard to keep up – for instance, diversity used to be their responsibility, but this week a report from search firm Korn/Ferry revealed that recruiters think it should now be driven by the company’s top brass instead. Maybe they spend most of their time looking over our electronic shoulders – according to security specialists Proofpoint, 35% of large businesses now employ people to read staff emails, and more than a fifth have fired employees as a result.

Perhaps companies ought to let everyone else spy on HR’s emails too? That way at least everyone would know exactly what they’re doing to earn their big pay rises...

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