HR professionals see themselves as strategic partners in their organizations, and they are playing a growing role in areas such as compliance, promoting company culture, and using technology in innovative ways.
This is the first of a two-part article documenting the results of the 2018 Pulse of HR Survey. Conducted by Paychex, the survey involved 300 HR decision makers in U.S. companies with 50-500 employees across a range of industries.
HR leaders cited keeping up with regulations and tracking employees’ time (38% each) as top challenges for 2018. Other issues that kept them on their toes included complying with regulations (35%), offering competitive benefits (33%), and retaining talent (31%).
Nearly half of respondents said that they are seeing more unqualified candidates applying for high-level jobs than in the past. However, a similar number said they are seeing more overqualified candidates applying for lower-level jobs. This might suggest that people are applying for any job, rather than targeting suitable ones.
A vast majority of HR professionals (80%) said their department is seen as a strategic partner, comparable to a similar number in 2017. However, more are spending time and research on employee issues with legal parameters. In 2018, 17% self-identified as having this role, compared to just 10% in 2017.
Respondents said they are seeing more staff engagement, with employees showing greater enthusiasm for their work. While HR professionals said they are comfortable supporting the needs of all workers, they suggested they are more confident about their ability to support Baby Boomers and Gen Xers than Millennials.
The vast majority of HR professionals said they focus on company culture to push results. However, respondents identified finding candidates who fit the company culture as a hiring challenge (41%). A third of respondents (34%) said they work to promote employee engagement by creating a hiring experience that clearly conveys the company culture.
Over 80% of respondents said they offer training to combat workplace discrimination and harassment, and 65% said they have updated their harassment policies within the last year. At the same time, 67% said they recently evaluated company pay practices to ensure gender equality over the past year.
Overall, HR leaders see their roles evolving; and despite the challenges they face, nearly three-quarters said they would recommend HR as a career for someone entering the workforce.