- While HR professionals responding to HR Dive's 2021 Identity of HR Survey generally said they were seen at least somewhat favorably by employees at their organizations, respondents were split on whether they felt valued by leadership. Of those surveyed by HR Dive, 28% said they were highly valued by leadership, 32% said they were very valued and 33% said they were somewhat valued.
- However, 95% of respondents who said they were highly valued by leadership also said they were viewed very or somewhat favorably by employees.
- Respondents from smaller departments were more likely to say they were viewed favorably by employees, particularly those at single-person HR departments; 40% of single-person department respondents said they were received very favorably by employees. Meanwhile, 16-17% of HR employees at larger departments said the same.
HR has struggled to overcome a perception gap with workforces regarding various aspects of the profession, from benefits to conflict management. One-fifth of workers surveyed by Zenefits for an April 2020 report said they didn’t trust HR and nearly a third said they actively avoid going to HR with their problems. Similarly, a Feb. 2020 study from Willis Towers Watson noted a disparity between how employers view dignity in the workplace and how employees view it; 81% of employers surveyed said that they believe their workers are treated with respect and dignity regardless of position, while only 65% of workers agreed.
Some of this may be due to a negative perception of HR overall due to its old status as largely a compliance function, John Bremen, managing director of human capital and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, said in an email. But HR in recent years has become a more strategic function focused on people and culture.
The pandemic, especially, has pushed HR to the forefront. According to a February report from The Hackett Group, HR’s top goal in 2021 is to be a strategic asset to company leadership — particularly to overcome the "unprecedented obstacles" to workplace culture presented by the pandemic.
"In general, those HR leaders that do it right are rated favorably by both employees and company leaders," Bremen said. "These are the HR leaders who understand the value of talent in creating a competitive advantage for the company, and they understand that people matter to the business."