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HR Heroes of the COVID Pandemic

The COVID Pandemic and multiple lockdowns have been difficult for everyone, with isolation and uncertainty affecting all across the globe. Of course, this has without doubt also raised numerous barriers for businesses, with the landscape changing on almost a weekly basis as HR functions accelerated drastically in the ‘pressure-cooker' situation.

From furlough and redundancies to managing home and remote working, the HR landscape has been incredibly difficult to navigate. From the ‘survival’ mode in which many business found themselves, to adapting to the new normal we are so used to today, our HR Professionals have been central, truly earned the title of business ‘heroes’.

“Almost three-quarters of HR professionals say the pandemic has increased their value in the eyes of the business.” – Sage Research

As mentioned, the challenges facing HR have been continuous, with seventy-two percent of HR leaders in recent research from software company Sage People stating their colleagues understanding of their role had increased considerably over the past 11 months, and fifty-nine percent of respondents stating HR Professionals feel they play a “more influential role” in their companies. This data suggests not only have HR proven their true value, but their necessity regarding their support and business contribution.


Does Increased ’recognition’ equal an increased workload – what does this mean for HR professionals?

The Sage research states that sixty percent of HR professionals have “experienced an increase in both administrative and strategic tasks” since the beginning of the pandemic, but is that workload increased being acknowledged? The data suggests it isn’t. There is a clear percentage gap regarding the workload of HR employees, with over three-quarters of senior executives (76%) stating the amount of work placed on HR departments was acceptable.

"Twenty-five percent of employees stated they had noticed a “substantial change” in HR’s role within their companies" – Sage Research 

What does this mean for our “HR Heroes?” Employees’ perceptions of HR changed for the better during the pandemic, Sage found, with six in ten employees noticing changes in HR’s role to become more strategic and people focused. Just over a third thought HR had been more responsive during the pandemic.

So, our HR staff are receiving some well-earned acknowledgement regarding their important contributions within companies. However, this understanding doesn’t appear to relate regarding the increase in demand, pressure and workload they face. More than half (57%) of C-suite executives still saw HR as a largely administrative function, suggesting a lack of support and the threat of Human Resources employees falling “under the radar” when it comes to appreciation and value.


The digital transformation facing HR

If lockdown has taught us anything, it is the true value of technology and the importance of the adoption of digital tools. Video calls and virtual events have become the new normal, welcomed by many due to their cost effectiveness and convenience. But where else can HR adopt digital transformation? Automation, cloud technology, and self-service are just a few key areas digitalisation could help HR focus on maintaining influence and building a more resilient workforce that is better prepared for future challenges ahead.

“59% of HR professionals and senior leaders expect there to be an increased focus on digital transformation” – Sage Research

While a focus on digital adoption is expected, less than half (45%) feel they have the digital tools required and 36% of HR leaders feel there is a lack of investment to make this a reality.

Again, there appears to disconnect regarding such investments, as 58% of C-suite think HR is adequately equipped. There is a clear confidence gap, evidenced with 52% of HR leaders stating they were confident they could bring the organisation into a “new world of work” compared with 63% of C-suite executives.

Clearly, some clarity is required here, closing the gap between the perceived situation and realty. Are we willing to put a further strain on our “HR heroes” adding ‘under equipped’ to the list of existing challenges they face.

Laura Hewett, Director at Hewett Recruitment commented, “Over the last 12 months, HR professionals have taken on more responsibility and helped guide businesses through disruption and accelerated digital transformation. HR leaders have become “champions of change” and have upskilled more in the last 12 months than they could have expected to over several years in “normal” times.

Laura continues, "As such, we are starting to see quite a bit of movement in the HR market as some professionals feel they have reached a ceiling where they are and are ready for the next challenge, while others, unfortunately, have found themselves in a redundancy situation due to business performance in the pandemic. We are therefore seeing some incredibly strong HR candidates available on the marketplace at the moment and we at Hewett are privileged to be representing some particular gems!”


We currently have some incredible HR Candidates seeking opportunities.

Here are the profiles of two of these exceptional human resources candidates who are open to new opportunities:

  • HR Project Manager / HR Operations (permanent) 

A dynamic generalist HR professional with a particular interest in HR project delivery, project management and organisational change. She thrives on variety and the range of different challenges that brings. She has been with her current employer for several years as she has had the opportunity to experience a range of roles and projects within HR and is now looking to broaden her experience further. With a background in the tech sector, this candidate is tech-savvy and enjoys using technology to produce efficiencies and cost-savings. Comfortable with line-management responsibility and equally happy working alone. Her ideal business would be one with a strong people culture and a values-led approach. 
Seeking £50-60K and is open to working across Herefordshire, Worcestershire and into Gloucestershire.

  • HR Business Partner / HR Advisor (Temp, Perm, Interim)

A well-rounded HR professional with strong experience in internal recruitment and Employee Relations. This candidate has enjoyed working strategically at a manager level within the business, but equally enjoys being hands-on, such as managing absence and grievances. With experience across a range of industries including manufacturing, logistics and housing, this candidate has a wealth of experience to bring to a new role. 
She prefers being part of a HR team, rather than standalone so would be best suited to a larger organisation with a HR department.
She is available immediately following redundancy, so would consider temp and interim positions while she is looking for the ideal next step.
Seeking £32-42K and lives in Malvern.


For further information or details regarding hiring a HR Candidates, please get in touch with Hewett Recruitment Director, Laura Hewett