Research from Breathe shows 58.6% of HR teams say they are not being supported


Breathe, the Sussex-based HR tech company for SMEs, announces the findings from its recent research which looks at how HR teams are feeling following the effects of the pandemic over the past 18 months.

This comes at a key time when there is a continuing debate over whether staff should return to work or continue working from home.

Breathe asked 82 attendees of its recent webinar, ‘Who is HRing HR?’, questions to best understand how responsibilities have changed within the HR function, where time is spent most and whether these teams feel best supported.

According to their research, more than half (58.6%) of respondents say they are not being supported, 95.1% said their workload has increased since March 2020 and over half (54.8%) of SME staff report 3-5 hours a week increase on HR – costing the economy up to £94.7 billion.

The report also found that a third (32.8%) reported an increase of up to 2 hours a week and that existing HR policies were not fit for purpose following pandemic health concerns boom, with 92.6% having to adapt policies.

Mental health concerns

Regarding mental health concerns, the report also found that 87.8% of the employees they asked were highly concerned about teammates wellbeing in the past year,more than a quarter (26.8%) of SMEs have not invested in additional training to tackle wellbeing concerns and HR staff felt unequipped to tackle broadening remit and health concerns.

78% of respondents also say duty of care has changed, with HR staff needing to go further to protect their teams, whilst only 36.5% of SMEs have invested in additional training to tackle wellbeing concerns. 74.3% of HR teams also feel unable to gauge staff wellbeing across remote teams.

Since March 2020, HR professionals cited updating company policies (21.4%) and recruitment-related admin (17.3%) as the two key areas where they are spending the most time. Maintaining employee records (15.8%) and furlough management (15.1%) came in as the next tasks.

Discussing the findings, Jonathan Richards, CEO at Breathe commented: “The truth is that HR teams have been a badly-hit part of many businesses. It’s shocking to see the extent to which these professionals are feeling unsupported, and the varied tasks the past 18 months have thrown up at them.

“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.”