Small businesses failing their HR staff – poll

HR staff have seen a growth in their workload since March 2020 – and some SMEs haven't invested in dealing with Covid-related HR challenges

Over a quarter (26.8 per cent) of SMEs haven’t invested in additional training to handle pandemic-related wellbeing concerns and HR staff felt ill-equipped to cope.

Breathe, a people software platform, asked 82 HR employees about how the HR function has changed over the past 18 months and whether they feel they’re being supported. More than half (58.6 per cent) say they are not being supported, while a staggering 95.1 per cent say their workload has increased since March 2020.

Figures also show that existing HR policies aren’t fit for purpose following a huge increase in pandemic concerns, with 92.6 per cent having to adapt HR policies.

Since March 2020, HR staff have cited updating company policies (21.4 per cent) and recruitment-related admin (17.3 per cent) as the two areas where they’re spending the most time on. This is followed by maintaining employee records (15.8 per cent) and furlough management (15.1 per cent) following as the next tasks.  

Almost 80 per cent saying that the duty of care has changed, with staff needing to go further to protect their teams. Plus, a whopping 74.3 per cent of HR teams feel unable to gauge remote staff wellbeing.  

It’s not just HR, either. An overwhelming 87.7 per cent of employees were ‘highly concerned’ about their teammates’ wellbeing over the past year.

Discussing the findings, Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe, commented: “The truth is that HR teams have been a badly-hit part of many businesses.

“As we emerge out of this, I think a key area will be for businesses to check in on their HR teams more. Understanding where their pain points are and helping to alleviate them, be that through talking about problems or implementing software that helps to automate tasks, will be crucial to getting making HR teams feel best supported.”

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.

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