Turnover in HR’s own backyard not pretty

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Retention programs have been firmly on the agenda for the past two decades yet that same thinking may not be happening successfully HR’s own backyard – the latest data paints a dire state of retention in the HR profession.

The turnover of HR professionals with their current organisation was examined in the 2012 Global HR Viewpoint Survey, and Craig Mason from The Next Step said the results indicate this may be a case of the ‘cobbler’s children needing shoes’.

Key figures from the data:

  • Nearly 35% of HR professionals have worked for their current company for less than a year and;
  • This increases by year two of employment, where 61% have worked in their current company for less than this time.
  • Also, fewer than 5% of HR practitioners have worked in the current organisation for more than 10 years.
  • On the flip side, the number of HR professionals who’ve worked for their current company for more than six years has increased 3.2% from 2010 to 15% in 2012. This group is over-represented by HR professionals in senior roles.

Reasons for being unhappy

According to Mason, the results are disturbing, even after taking into account that contracting makes up 12% of the overall market. While factors that may be behind the high turnover are difficult to generalise, Mason speculated they may include:

  1. Constant model and structural changes in HR teams. Some 55.7% of HR professionals indicated that their teams had been impacted by some sort of functional restructure over the past 12 months. Interestingly, it was also found that 70.1% of HR practitioners said that constant change in the HR model hurts the image of the function with business leaders.
  2. The scale of many HR teams being small, limits career growth. The research found that 25.8% of HR professionals are in organisations of 500 people or less which limits the opportunities that exist for career growth in these companies.
  3. The predominance of the Ulrich model which limits internal career opportunities and mobility. The survey found 53.9% of HR professionals indicted they are in this model. This numbers jumps to 81% for companies over 10,000.
  4. HR professionals are attracted to an end-to-end role; that is, they have the ability to think and do! Global driven companies limit the opportunity to impact thinking and originate solutions. Just 4.3% of practitioners are attracted to working for a globally driven company.
  5. Changes in HR leadership for an organisation bring a new approach to the function. This often results in the new approach to HR requiring different skills sets and roles being made redundant or incumbents self-selecting out.
  6. The HR function is no different to any other area of the business, poor leadership will create higher levels of turnover.
  7. An overwhelming perception that the only way to get a salary increase is to move companies. More than three quarters of HR professionals felt the best way to achieve a wage rise was to move companies.
  8. HR professionals often work long hours creating burnout. The results indicated that nearly 75% of  HR practitioners work an average of more than 40 hours a week.
  9. Less sophisticated companies and senior leaders hire the wrong HR professional. HR professionals are often hired into businesses with a promise of wanting a new approach, combined with a commitment to budgets, time and resources. The reality is different and they would be most comfortable with a HR model that just delivers operational support.


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  • Linda Reinhardt on 2012-05-05 1:23:43 AM

    You say the Ulrich model limits internal career opportunities and mobility - how so?

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