More People Understand HR. It Only Took a Pandemic

Online HR

HR organizations have gained a notable amount of visibility and influence since the Covid-19 pandemic began in early 2020. Specifically, 87% of senior executives say the function now has a greater voice than it did before, while 72% of HR leaders believe the crisis has increased their value and given others across the organization a wider understanding of their role. About 59% say they now have a more influential role in their company.

The results were gathered by business management solutions provider Sage. The company examined HR’s performance during the pandemic, how perceptions of its work have changed and where technology and other priorities have shifted.

#HR organizations have gained visibility since the pandemic began, which has led to more recognition of their value… and rising workloads. #HRTech Click To Tweet

The pandemic increased HR’s focus on technology and digital transformation, the study found, but HR leaders still lack a certain amount of confidence that they can tap the skills they need to make transformation work. And while 67% of HR leaders said they want to invest more in HR technology in the future, a third said a lack of technology (31%) and investment (36%) is holding them back. Only half (53%) believe they have the right skills and tools available for the future of work. 

Understanding HR’s Role

One finding that’s clear is HR’s role in keeping a business going is more widely recognized now.

Nearly two-thirds of HR leaders, or 65%, said their teams have played a leading role in their organization’s response to Covid-19. That means driving change, enabling remote work and supporting employee well-being. At the same time, 60% saw an increase in both administrative and strategic responsibilities. 

Those leaders were probably gratified to learn that C-suite executives recognized their work, with 58% saying they’ve developed a greater appreciation for HR because of the pandemic. Before the virus struck, 84% of HR leaders thought others in the organization were unclear on the value they offered.

Eighty-seven percent of senior executives believe the pandemic has accelerated changes in HR, although most recognize these changes reflect longer-term movements that may have started up to five years ago. Rank-and-file employees, too, have noticed a change in HR’s role, with 60% of them seeing HR as being more involved in driving change and people-related decisions.  

More than a third of employees recognized HR’s ability to adapt and become more responsive during the pandemic. Some 54% of employees now have better knowledge and understanding of HR’s role and value.

Image: iStock