Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Advancing technology and hybrid working are key drivers of change for organisations and the people profession, finds new CIPD report

HR professionals are key to implementing new ways of working and should be at the heart of driving change, says the CIPD

The latest findings from the CIPD’s People Profession 2023: UK and Ireland survey report*, which surveyed 1,456 people professionals across the UK, show that technology and hybrid working has had a significant impact on the role of people professionals. 

The report found that rapidly evolving technology, like generative AI, is having an impact on people teams as well as the wider business. Over half of UK people professionals, 55%, surveyed believe that advancing technology is transforming the way HR teams operate and deliver in their role. In addition, 42% of people professionals believe their role is changing significantly due to technology, suggesting that job roles are evolving alongside the impact of digital transformation.

Of those surveyed, 41% of people professionals said that supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing had become more difficult because of hybrid working, while 40% felt hybrid working made building organisational culture and values more challenging.

However, the CIPD is also highlighting the opportunities that these new ways of working can present and the crucial role of people professionals in providing training for line managers on how to support hybrid teams and by keeping hybrid working policies and organisational culture under constant review.

While the report shows some areas for development for the profession, it also shows that wellbeing within the profession itself is more positive than previous years. In fact, 32% of people professionals say their job has a positive (or very positive) impact on their mental health (compared to 31% in 2022), whilst a fifth (20%) say that their job has had a positive (or very positive) impact on their physical health also, compared to 16% in 2022. 

 Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: 

“People professionals continue to play a pivotal role in every organisation especially as they navigate the complex and changing world of work. Rapidly evolving technology and the continued adoption of hybrid and flexible working practices are critical areas of focus, and present significant opportunities for the profession to be at the heart of business and change, supporting people and organisations to adapt and thrive. This year's report shows that people professionals are learning, innovating and adapting quicker than ever and understand the benefits and risks for both employees and organisations alike when driving changes forward. The strategic importance of people teams and the central role they play is being increasingly recognised. 

“This year, we’re also able to compare the state of the profession internationally and it’s encouraging to see the size and status of the people profession growing and developing in different countries. It seems that the profession is united, not only by the challenges they face, but also by the opportunities they have to have to push for positive change in the world of work.”

In addition to these findings, this year the CIPD also looked at the state of the profession internationally and found some interesting comparisons: 

  • In Ireland, like the UK, we found that 42% of people professionals thought their role was changing significantly due to advancing technology, though this is lower than international counterparts.
  • In the Middle East and North Africa, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) respondents are more likely than their counterparts in Egypt and the UAE to state that their role is changing significantly due to advancing technology (56%). Encouragingly, hybrid working has had a very positive impact on people outcomes in all three countries involved in the survey. 
  • In Asia-Pacific, Australian people professionals are more likely to agree that digital change and technology is transforming people operations (77%), while HR practitioners in Singapore stated that supporting employee well-being and attracting and retaining talent is more difficult in a hybrid world (39% for both).