People profession: where do we go from here (and how do we get there!)?

By Rebecca Peters, Research Advisor at the CIPD.

The people profession is changing and to continue doing great work, people professionals need to be adaptive to the demands being placed upon them. Given the numerous corporate scandals or changes in current affairs and legislation, the landscape for people professionals is fast-paced and often reactive to the changing world around us – both internally and externally. Last month alone we’ve heard about Amazon silencing employees who are speaking out about the company’s contribution to the climate crisis, in a bid to enforce a stringent eternal communications policy. Additionally, we have now entered into the transitional period for the UK’s exit from the EU, leaving many organisations left to prepare for the resulting implications. For people professionals, this means thinking through their people considerations and what this mean in reality, post Brexit. To support people professionals from a range of organisations, CIPD have launched some recommended actions on our Brexit Hub.  

Whatever the focus for people professionals, whether it’s being more strategic or implementing the right policies and practices across an organisation, people are at the heart of what we do. We know the profession is growing in numbers year on year, in fact the number of people professionals has grown by 17% since 2009. In 2018, a CIPD report found that 64% of people professionals felt that their jobs gave them the opportunity to express themselves as a professional. However, nearly three in ten felt a conflict between their professional beliefs and what their organisation expected of them. This highlights the challenging role that people professionals face in their professional decision making. It’s crucial to make sure the voice of people professionals doesn’t get forgotten about so that we continue to grow and thrive as a profession and demonstrate professional courage in our work.

With more people entering the profession and the many challenges ahead, professionalism is high on the agenda. As the professional body for the people profession we want to know where the gaps are in raising professionalism across our community. In response to recent CIPD member feedback, we’ve launched new learning content exclusively for members, which directly relates to the eight core behaviours in the new Professions Map Designed alongside thought leaders and experts within the profession, CIPD members now have the opportunity to reflect on their behaviours and feel supported to apply these in their day-to-day practice. Using multiple ways of learning, members can now have reflective practice, identify targeted actions and engage with a supportive community to share their knowledge and insights.

To make real impact in our organisations there is also a need for sustainable HR and people practices. These need to offer long term value for both the organisation, it’s people and external stakeholders. In 2018, the CIPD found that one in five people professionals said they are not given the opportunity to contribute to the organisation’s needs in a meaningful way. So, what does sustainable HR look like across the shifting HR landscape? How do we acknowledge emerging trends, such as digital technology and AI in the workplace and managing a five-generation workforce, whilst also understanding the impact on HR management practices? First, we need to build a picture of the profession from the perspective of the people professionals themselves. What are the biggest drivers of change that people professionals faces within your organisation? What are the areas of capability improvement that need to happen across your people function?

As your professional body, we want to ask these very questions. We know it’s important for you to have a say in the current state of the profession and how the future of work is shaping up for you. It’s important, more than ever, to take an inward look at the people profession as it stands before we can understand how best to equip ourselves for the future of work that is to come.

To give people professionals the platform for their voice to be heard, we have launched the People Profession Survey 2020. It’s not just another survey. We’ve worked hard to come together with partners to enable the first global picture of the people profession, with involvement from several HR / people profession bodies across the globe. Allowing us, for the first time, to consider global trends and cultural differences within the profession.

Our aim is to hear from a range of people-related specialisms and gather insights into what the profession is currently facing and the future direction of where it’s heading. We recognise the many new demands for people management, from striving for positive employee experience, to using an evidence-based approach to inform decisions. We want to hear about all this and more.

Your responses help to drive our understanding of and thinking on the future of work and the future direction of the profession, so that CIPD can best equip people professionals to deliver ‘good work’ and confront the challenges and opportunities that the future world of world may bring.

Help us to capture insights on the current shape of the people profession and build a picture of the future world of work. Have your say and take part in the People Profession Survey, in association with Workday here.

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