The Pros and Cons of a Career in HR

A research report published by Sage states that 91% of HR leaders are excited by the future of HR, but 66% also have some worries about what potentially lays ahead.

It’s no secret that the world of HR is changing – and rapidly. Many HR roles are evolving from what used to be personnel management and administration, to what is now owning employment engagement, reinforcing positive company culture, and creating pathways for individuals to both thrive and develop in the workplace.

In this blog, we explore the pros and cons of a career in human resources, from the inspiring and exhilarating, as well as the challenges and pitfalls. After all, human resources is a people-focused industry, and working with people is rarely straightforward.

Pro #1 – High levels of job satisfaction

The level of job satisfaction of those working in HR is on the rise, with 86% of professionals stating that they were "very satisfied" or "somewhat satisfied" in their current HR role.

According to HR professional Melanie Steel, the pandemic left only one good outcome for businesses, and that was the higher levels of respect that they now have for their HR departments and professionals.

HR departments were said to have played a pivotal role in how companies coped during the intensity of the pandemic, and are now, still playing that role as we move through successful recovery phases and into new working practises. This has left HR professionals feeling satisfied in their roles, and hopeful for a future in which they can continue to lead and support on the direction of businesses.

A recent Glassdoor study also stated that two out of the top five roles that were ranked as the happiest in the UK, were both HR roles, with HR Managers rated 4.4/5 and HR business partners rated 4.3/5 – showing that HR professionals are feeling both happy and satisfied with their career choices.

Pro #2 – HR is experiencing steady growth, and will continue to

The need for HR professionals is said to be vital when it comes to the growth of any business. So much so, that Forbes states that there should be at least 1.4 HR staff for every 100 employees.

The evolution of digital practises and technological enhancements has also contributed to great levels of growth within the industry. HR departments are now able to decrease the number of manual processes completed previously and focus on the new ways in which we are analysing employee performance, storing data and internally communicating with staff.

Additionally, due to the instability of the last few years, it's become increasingly essential for businesses to reprioritise and focus on their employees. In turn, organisations are now becoming heavily reliant on their HR departments to support and develop the workforce, meaning businesses will have to continue to heavily invest in their HR teams.

Pro #3 High salaries

The Morgan Phillips HR Salary Guide for 2023 states that HR roles are generally well-paid jobs. This means the opportunity to earn a satisfactory salary across many of the different fields within the industry is very likely!

Depending on the seniority of your role and how much experience you have, HR professionals, on average, can earn anywhere between £27,000 and £55,000. This will vary, however, with the average salary for a HR manager in the UK being £35, 000.

Pro #4 – Good work/life balance

Salary aside, post pandemic, there’s been one crucial deciding factor when it comes to any job role: work-life balance.

It’s said that 66% of employees consider work-life balance to be a critical factor when job searching, with 55% also admitting that they actively seek out companies that will take care of their mental health. In a study undertaken by Reboot Digital PR, in collaboration with Glassdoor, it’s said that those working in HR ranked second place for good work-life balance, scoring 3.78 out of 5.

There’s no doubt that human resources is an extremely rewarding, albeit challenging job role when it comes to protecting an organisations best asset: it’s people.

However, like any role, there’s a few cons to be aware of. These include:

Con #1 – Having hard conversations

HR professionals lead on a lot of difficult conversations, whether that be re- structuring, redundancies, dealing with workplace conflict or letting employees go. This can take its toll on an individual’s mental health and is something to be aware of before entering the profession.

However, there’s plenty of resources out there to help support HR professionals who are dealing with these responsibilities, like this Challenging Conversations and How to Manage Them guide by Acas.

Con #2 – Leading and influencing change can be challenging

Although this is not the sole responsibility of someone working in HR, HR professionals must be ready to work alongside the C-Suite and senior members of staff to facilitate, advocate and make space for change, so much so, CIPD describe themselves as being the stage directors of change.

HR are often the ones in the back, playing critical but sometimes hidden roles when it comes to change management. The C-Suite often relies heavily on HR to ensure that the workforce is on board, equipped, informed, and encouraged – and this can be extremely demanding.

Con #3 - Keeping on top of employment law and company policies

Working in HR can sometimes be tedious when it comes to understanding employment law, regulations, and company policies, including the:

  • Code of conduct
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Equal opportunities and discrimination policy
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Discipline and termination policy
  • Health and safety policy

Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you are up to date with all elements as one small mishap can often result in a lot of aggravation.

When dealing with people, in their workplaces specifically, it’s important that you’re on top of your game, to advise correctly and lead influentially while remaining consistent. Employees trust and rely on their HR departments to have their best interests at heart and perceive them as those who they can trust. To be effective, HR professionals need to know what they’re talking about.  

Con #4 – Misconceptions

With the evolution of the industry, there comes many misconceptions on what it is to actually work in HR. What used to be seen as the department that simply does the hiring, firing and payroll, HR has transformed drastically and is now at the forefront of employee wellbeing, diversity, and engagement.

To prepare you, we’ve included some of the most common misconceptions you might hear about the HR industry below, however, we’ve also included the reasons as to why you shouldn’t believe them!

  • HR is all about helping people: although it is people focussed, HR isn’t just simply about helping people. Of course, the work that you do should benefit your workforce, but it taps into an array of additional factors such positive culture, safe working practises and employee recognition.

  • HR isn’t strategic: now classed as a strategic partner, HR plays a pivotal role in the creation and implementation of a robust people strategy, working alongside C-Suite team members and Learning and Development.

  • There’s no opportunity to be creative: with the role of a HR professional being rewritten, there’s now plenty of room for creativity when it comes to employee engagement, innovative recruitment practises and different ways of working.

  • HR is all paperwork: As previously mentioned, the advancements of technology are having great impact on HR as a function. With increased use of automation and self-service machines, less time is being spent on manual processes, reducing paperwork.

Like many other people-focused roles, working in HR is both a rewarding and challenging career choice. For those who enjoy a diverse and flexible role where no two days are the same, it might be time to consider a career in HR.


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