HR. The Big Change.

The turn into the 2020s brought significant change, shedding light on how businesses can and should be run. The pandemic has opened the door on some fringe methods of work and placed people onto centre stage. These methods and people will not only be the ones to grow and succeed, but they will provide the flexibility and resilience that businesses will need in the future. 

But do HR professionals really understand the change that is needed following this major upheaval? What does it take to create a new way of working for the future? What can people professionals do to make sure businesses run with purpose, agility, and scalability?

It’s time for the profession to become more human.

Managing this changing landscape will be a top priority for the HR community.  However, the switch from managing standard HR operations, admin and risk management to focusing on ‘People Strategy’ is not a straightforward undertaking.

HR must first rethink its purpose.  It’s time for HR to take a more human approach and help leaders create a more dynamic work model for the future.  Changing the traditional hierarchy to encourage a more collaborative, nurturing aspect of company life.

Providing meaningful feedback, employee experiences and mental health support can improve the performance of the team and enable managers to relocate talent in step with company goals. HR leaders must also pay closer attention to the skills and development of their own teams, providing platforms for innovation and new ideas.

Enabling individuals to bring their ‘whole person’ to work.

Getting to know your people must be a priority. Building personal relationships and recognition of individual capabilities and contribution is what people will be focused on and here’s why …

It is fundamental to job satisfaction and performance. We all feel motivated and committed when we are valued and have a connection with our managers and colleagues. It’s good for our self-esteem and wellbeing. Not only do we want to make a difference, but we all have a desire to grow professionally and personally.  It’s about enabling individuals to bring their ‘whole person’ to work.

People Advisors and HR need to pivot to guide leaders, support them and perhaps re-learn, how to understand the needs and views of employees in new contexts. Invest and empower line managers and not just top managers.  These are the managers that will have closer connectivity with skills required within the business and talent capabilities.

Human interactions encourage employee feedback and provide mentorship. This not only fosters a positive company culture but also shows management commitment to listening.

Create the best employee experience possible.

Provide insights and facts rather than emotions and feelings, to represent employee needs. One of the skills I know benefits my clients, is continually looking out for industry innovations across all sectors and business types. This allows me to provide the best independent advice for a variety of scenarios offering pragmatic solutions.

Hybrid Working - Future of Work

With restrictions lifting and vaccination rollouts generating optimism, many companies are looking to get back to “normal”. But what is normal? What should companies really be considering as we start to emerge from our home offices and zoom meetings? How can HR effectively contribute to this new phase of what it means to work? An Ipsos survey for the World Economic Forum among 12,500 employed people in 29 countries found that a majority want flexible working to become the norm. And almost a third (30%) said they would consider looking for another job if they were forced to go back to the office full time. This represents a change in mindset with which employers should respond to.

A change in mindset.

What the pandemic has achieved for employees and employers is a change in mindset from ‘presenteeism’ to ‘productivity'. Moving away from an office-based 5 day week and large costly offices, to smaller team-based approaches heightens employee satisfaction. There are a few variations of hybrid models bandied around. The first being “at-will”. At will empowers the employees to choose days they wish to work from the office. Secondly a “split week” model, this model balances the time in the office with remote working.  Regardless of how you envisage your hybrid model to work in practice; the % shift to more flexible ways of working is here and looks to be a permanent change. Nine out of 10 organizations will be combining remote and on-site working, according to a new McKinsey survey made in collaboration with the World Economic Forum. Successful remote working has created a sense of trust, recognised individual commitment and effort, increased accountability and for many allowed for a greater work-life balance.

What can HR do to support business goals?

Leaders need support, in managing away from the office, pre-conceived notions such as ‘people are easier to manage in the same room”. It’s up to HR to develop and understand how such notions, do not become ingrained in leaders' approaches. The focus must be on the contributions and work that is required and not on the channel, that work actualised.

Businesses need to define the purpose of physical workspace. How can employees and teams be encouraged to own and use the space in a way which works for them? A physical workspace is important as a change of environment, team collaborations, celebrating achievements and reflective learning and development. This shouldn’t be a directive that comes from HR but something which is owned by everyone.

The right people can be found.

Recognising talent is no longer constrained by travel times and geography. The right people can now be found, hired and start working from anywhere in a fraction of the time. People are making deliberate choices as to what they want from their employers and the future of work.  Great hires have been made during the last 18 months which have not been prohibited by not coming into the office every day. We need to remain open to accommodating remote employees and proactively create opportunities for untapped talent. For hybrid working to be successful it needs to be supported by equitable practices.

How people experts can help?

Hybrid work is still fraught with drawbacks and potential failings. A failed hybrid working strategy is not just a HR issue. Leaders need to be aware of maintaining company culture and continued productivity. The benefits of remote-working should not necessarily replace the benefits of the office. Striking a balance will attract and retain the best talent that drives innovation, resilience, improves client satisfaction and increases profitability. What people experts can help you with is avoiding the pitfalls, while exploring and solidifying the potential of hybrid-working models.