This report gives a snapshot of the current HR landscape in the UK and Ireland. We explore people professionals’ perceptions of the trends impacting their work, the challenges and opportunities these bring, and how they feel about their careers and working lives amidst these changes.

Against a backdrop of economic instability, advancing technology and new models of working, we explore how UK and Irish people professionals are responding and adapting, and give recommendations on how practitioners can navigate the challenges they are facing.

This report forms part of our international research on the profession. In 2023, we surveyed people professionals in nine countries across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia-Pacific, to understand regional priorities, and the commonalities and contrasts that practitioners face across the world. Our series of reports also includes findings from separate research in Canada, carried out by the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada (CPHR Canada), which give a comparative view of the opportunities and challenges faced by people professionals in this region.

By taking the pulse of the profession internationally, and building on our previous reports, our findings reflect the CIPD’s ongoing commitment to provide an informed view on how we can collaborate globally, develop professional capital within the industry and build HR functions that are future-fit across different regions and markets.

People Profession 2023: UK and Ireland survey report

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Key findings in the UK and Ireland

  • Hybrid and flexible working was identified as a top trend driving change for businesses in both the UK and Ireland, with Ireland seeing the biggest growth in hybrid working in the EU. However, people professionals were significantly more likely to say that hybrid working has made several people management areas more challenging, compared to professionals in the Asia-Pacific and Middle East and North Africa regions. Forty-one per cent of UK practitioners said supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing has become more difficult, whilst building organisational culture was also flagged as a current challenge (40%). Irish respondents have also seen challenges, with 41% saying that attracting, recruiting and retaining talent has become more difficult in a hybrid context.
  • Managing performance and delivering productivity is the top people priority in Ireland, likely influenced by economic uncertainty, which is a key disruptor for Irish businesses. Upskilling and developing current talent, and engaging with and retaining workers are also key priority areas. Unlike the majority of other markets surveyed, health and safety was flagged as a focus area, suggesting new models of working have surfaced health and safety challenges or areas of concern.
  • People teams in both the UK and Ireland see their function becoming a critical partner in shaping business strategy, although some feel their impact is not fully recognised. Just under two thirds (64%) agree that their people function adds strategic value, but less than half (47%) agree their people teams are acknowledged for their impact on the business.
  • Moving out of the post-pandemic era, the proportion of respondents who say their work positively impacts their mental and physical health has increased in both the UK and Ireland. There has been a particularly positive improvement in the impact of work on mental health in Ireland (22% in 2022, compared with 44% in 2023). We also found that wellbeing is linked to career perceptions. Professionals who are positive about their career progression are more likely to report that work positively affects their mental health. Conversely, respondents who have negative views of their progression are more likely to feel that their mental health is negatively affected by work and are significantly more likely to leave their current organisation within the next year.

Recommendations

  • Hybrid working models require a shift in mindset and a cultural reset to tackle operational and people management challenges that have surfaced due to different ways of working. Part of this is about updating policies and engaging with the workforce to understand the impact and benefits for workers and the organisation. Leaders will need to think creatively and leverage technology solutions to best support flexible working arrangements.
  • Building workforce skills and measuring performance are critical priorities that people professionals will need to deliver on to support business objectives.
  • To continue raising the profile of the profession and grow influence at board level, people professionals will need to have a good understanding and awareness of business operations and specialist skills, such as analytical skills, to respond to the needs of the organisation and internal stakeholders.
  • To maintain the positive impact of work on health, people professionals should ensure colleagues are taking care of their wellbeing and that work and workloads do not have a negative impact upon health.  

People Profession 2023: UK and Ireland survey report

Download the report
PDF document 1 MB

Read our international and other region-specific reports

Reports

People Profession 2023: International report

Insight into how global issues are impacting people professionals in the UK, Ireland, Asia-Pacific, MENA and Canada

Reports

People Profession 2023: Asia-Pacific report

Insight into how global issues are impacting people professionals in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore

Reports

People Profession 2023: Middle East and North Africa report

Insight into how global issues are impacting people professionals in Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

Reports

People Profession 2023: A Canadian perspective

Insight into how global issues are impacting people professionals in Canada

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