People Profession survey 2020: UK and Ireland

The latest People Profession survey, including a set of practice reflections to help you consider the findings in the context of your own organisation or people team

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The People Profession survey is our annual snapshot of the people profession. It reflects what people professionals are doing, how they’re feeling, and what they’re focused on. In collaboration with Workday, we developed the 2020 edition of the survey to explore the ‘here and now’ of the profession. The result is a comprehensive survey which provides an annual benchmark for – and longitudinal picture of – the people profession.

Explore the research insights

Download the full report to examine the in-depth findings, insights and practice reflections. For an overview of the headline findings, download our concise infographic.

About the survey

The survey, conducted online with YouGov, explored the perceptions and experiences of people professionals working in HR, OD&D and L&D, with a sample size of 1,368 in-house professionals and 204 independent professionals taken from across the UK and Ireland. To understand the immediate pressures faced by practitioners, we drew on supplementary data from our recent COVID-19 employers survey (see Employers’ concern for people’s mental health during COVID-19 soars), as well as our Best to good practice HR data, 2018 People Profession survey (accessible via the survey archive below), and 2019 research into non-HR business leader views of the profession.

Key findings

  • The people profession offers a highly rewarding career: Most in-house and independent professionals reported their careers to be meaningful, with three-quarters believing they add real value and impact. 

  • People analytics and data skills are in high demand, but skills lack across the profession: Practitioners need to urgently build their capability in HR/people data and analytics if they are to meet demand and inform their decision-making. 

  • Economic change, digital transformation and organisational agility are the biggest drivers of change influencing the profession: Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated employee health and wellbeing as an immediate priority - almost 70% of people professionals said this.

  • There’s a tension between operational efficiency and strategic delivery: The challenge is to recognise how an evolving profession like ours can add most value through both operational and strategic activities.  

  • The link between people strategy and business outcomes needs to be more explicit: Although senior leaders from outside the profession acknowledge the importance of people strategy and call for greater collaboration, there’s some way to go to address the disconnect between people strategy and wider business outcomes.  

By taking the pulse of the profession annually, we can make sure we're providing you with the right tools and resources to not only thrive through change – but to shape it. Download the latest People Profession survey to find out more.

Workday is a leading provider of enterprise cloud applications for finance and human resources. Founded in 2005, Workday delivers financial management, human capital management, planning, and analytics applications designed for the world’s largest companies, educational institutions, and government agencies. Organisations ranging from medium-sized businesses to Fortune 50 enterprises have selected Workday. 

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