The majority of people professionals say their work makes them happy, energised and offers them a meaningful career. That’s according to the CIPD’s The people profession in 2018: UK and Ireland report, published today. Working in collaboration with other professional bodies, the CIPD surveyed almost 1,000 HR, L&D and OD professionals across the UK and Ireland to assess the current state of the profession.

Overall, people professionals said they enjoy their job with more than two-thirds of respondents saying their work makes them happy (70%) and energised (67%). The report also finds that most of those working in the sector are confident exercising their judgement, with six in ten (64%) agreeing their job gives them the opportunity to fully express themselves as a professional.

But more than just providing stimulating work, the survey shows the profession enables individuals to contribute to the ‘greater good’ and gives them a sense of purpose. Over three-quarters said the profession offers them a meaningful career (78%), while nearly two-thirds (64%) said the work they do is connected to what they think is important in life. A further 60% said they see a connection between their work and the larger social good of their community.

Encouragingly, the research shows people professionals aren’t afraid to question current ways of working in their organisation, further highlighting the value they add. Over two-fifths (44%) said they had regularly challenged the purpose of tasks they were asked to carry out in the last year, and proposed alternatives. Practitioners are also basing their decisions on a range of factors, with the top three being personal experience (76%), organisational data (55%) and intuition (49%).

However, the research highlights there’s still room for development so practitioners are fully confident in demonstrating professional courage at work and challenging unethical practice. Nearly three in ten (28%) feel there’s a conflict between their professional judgement and what their organisation expects of them, and the same proportion feel that it’s often necessary to compromise ethical values to succeed in their organisation. A third of respondents (31%) also said that managers in their organisation often engage in behaviours they consider to be unethical.

The report also reveals how HR sees itself as a function within organisations, showing more needs to be done to raise the understanding and profile of the profession in helping businesses to thrive. Just over half of respondents agreed that the people team in their organisation is taken seriously (57%), respected (54%) and given the opportunity to add value (58%).

The importance of having the right skills, and being able to use them effectively, is another finding to come out of the report. Many practitioners feel their current skillset doesn’t necessarily match the demands of their role with nearly two in five (38%) saying they have the skills to cope with more challenging duties. Yet on the other hand, 16% said they lack the skills required for their current role, rising to 22% among practitioners with less than six years of experience.