The People Profession in 2018

A new CIPD survey  The people profession in 2018 reveals that most people professionals feel their work makes them happy, energised and offers them a meaningful career. Overall, people professionals said they enjoy their job with more than two-thirds of respondents saying their work made them happy (70%) and energised (67%).

The report also found that most of those working in the sector were confident exercising their judgement, with six in ten (64%) agreeing their job gives them the opportunity to express themselves as a professional fully.

“Having confidence in our professional judgement is crucial to making better decisions in the workplace. Even though it might challenge some of the norms or expectations, having the self-assurance with knowledge, insights and evidence, to make good and fair judgements is key to helping our profession build trust and credibility, and help us stay at the fore of business development and change.”

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive at the CIPD

A sense of purpose

The survey also highlights that the profession enables individuals to contribute to the ‘greater good’ and gives them a sense of purpose.

Over three-quarters said the profession offers them a meaningful career (78%), while nearly two-thirds (64%) said the work they do connects to what they think is important in life. A further 60% said they see a connection between their work and the broader social good of their community.

People professionals aren’t afraid to question current ways of working in their organisation.

This further highlights the value People Professionals add to organisations. Almost half of those surveyed said they regularly challenged the purpose of tasks they were asked to carry out in the last year and proposed alternatives.

The top three factors influencing People Professional’s decision making included personal experience (76%), organisational data (55%) and intuition (49%).

Ethical practice

Nearly three in ten (28%) feel there’s a conflict between their professional judgement and what their organisation expects of them, and the same proportion feels that it’s often necessary to compromise ethical values to succeed in their organisation.

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So there’s still room for improvement though it is encouraging to know that in general practitioners show confidence in demonstrating professional courage at work and challenging any unethical practice.

Raising the profile

The report also reveals how HR sees itself as a function within organisations, showing more needs to be done to raise the understanding and profile of the profession in helping businesses to thrive.

Just over half of respondents agreed that the people team in their organisation is taken seriously (57%), respected (54%) and given the opportunity to add value (58%).

Skills mismatch

The importance of having the right skills, and being able to use them effectively, is another finding to come out of the report. Many practitioners feel their current skill set doesn’t necessarily match the demands of their role with on the one hand nearly two in five (38%) saying they have the skills to cope with more challenging duties. On the other hand, 16% said they lack the skills required for their current role, rising to 22% among practitioners with less than six years of experience.

 “A career in the people profession is about working with people, bringing them into the right jobs and helping them reach their potential at work. However, it’s also about applying expertise in people, action and change to ensure that work is a force for good for everyone. It’s great to see so many people professionals experiencing meaning in their work and feeling confident to stand up for their beliefs.

Louisa Baczor, Research Adviser at the CIPD,

Louise Baczor also commented that the future of the profession is exciting and will require capabilities in managing new organisational models, the supply of skills, the shaping of jobs and improving people management and organisational cultures adding that Continuing professional development would be key to keeping skills current, so that practitioners be equipped to innovate and adapt as professionals.

On the role of HR, Peter Cheese said it is becoming increasingly vital as the world of work evolves, and organisations and people need to adapt. People professionals have a real opportunity to shape developments by bringing their unique insight, skills and practice to create a future of work where organisations, their people, and the communities they’re part of can all thrive.

New Professional Map

Peter Cheese said “The CIPD recognises the challenges that people professionals face, but also the opportunity they have to play a vital role in championing better work and working lives.

The professional body’s ambition is to build a profession for the future that can actively drive positive change in the world of work and have a more significant impact on all working lives.

A significant step on that journey will be the launch of the new Profession Map this November. The Map is designed to support people professionals globally to make sound decisions and embrace change in the modern world of work, guiding evidence and values-based decision-making, preparing people professionals to face change and new opportunities and steering their judgement even where no apparent solutions, rules or precedents exist.”

The People Profession in 2018: UK and Ireland report is available for download via:

The survey is based on responses from 974 HR professionals across the UK and Ireland. The survey was carried out online and fieldwork was undertaken between 28 March and 8 June 2018. 

The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development. The not for profit organisation champions better work and working lives and has been setting the benchmark for excellence in people and organisation development for more than 100 years. It has a communitiy of around 150,000 members across the world, provides thought leadership through independent research on the world of work, and offers professional training and accreditation for those working in HR and learning and development.


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