As we get into the next financial year, HR is bracing itself to manage fresh challenges in the wake of the pandemic. 

The pandemic has had a huge impact on the workplace, not least the rise in remote working and growing concerns around mental health. As businesses start to get back to normal there are several challenges with the potential to overwhelm HR teams.

1. Managing the ‘hybrid’ worker

The Covid-19 lockdowns prompted widespread remote working and now we are starting to head back to the office, many employees want to continue working flexibly. Research from Willis Towers Watson last year found that more than two in five employers will have adopted hybrid working in two years’ time, with only three in 10 (30%) businesses expecting to have their workforce fully back on site before 2023.

While the pandemic changed how we are working, employees need to feel valued and recognised

Reed also revealed that 45% of office workers not working in a hybrid model would consider leaving their job to do so. There is a growing need for firms to adopt hybrid working to attract, recruit and retain talent. But for HR professionals, managing staff in different locations, and keeping up with how is working flexibly is challenging and it requires technology that can provide an accurate, real-time overview of staff whereabouts to ensure the business can operate efficiently.

2. Record numbers off on sick leave

Businesses need to prepare for more absence this year. Covid-19 hasn’t gone away and the threat of new variants and conditions such as Long Covid all present challenges. A Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report based on a survey of 804 organisations with more than 4.3 million employees found that 26% of businesses now include long COVID as a main cause of long-term sickness absence.

46% of the organisations had employees that had experienced Long Covid, and the CIPD recommends employers do more to support workers with the condition. Using technology to monitor absences, who is self-isolating, and those with illnesses such as Long Covid could help a business better manage absence, plan cover if needed and ensure productivity remains high.

3. Growing focus on wellbeing

Mental health was the number one reason for sickness absence last year, ahead of Covid-19. Research from GoodShape’s UK PLC 2021 Workforce Health Report, highlighted that absence from mental health accounted for almost a fifth (19%) of all lost working time in the UK.

Monitoring absences using technology gives businesses a clear and transparent record of absence data, as well as insights into trends, which can help managers pinpoint employees who might be suffering from poor mental health so they can support them.

4. Rise in holiday leave requests

Travel is back on the agenda this year, which could mean HR will need to manage a big rise in holiday requests. Research from Tripadvisor and Ipsos Mori found that more people are planning to travel for leisure in 2022 than those who travelled before the pandemic in 2019.

Taking annual leave is important employee health and wellbeing, but companies who rely on emails, spreadsheets, and even verbal conversations to manage holiday requests, may struggle to keep accurate records. This could inadvertently result in too many people being off at once and workplaces short staffed.

Investing in absence management technology can ease the workload on HR teams and make requesting and approving holiday leave seamless.

5. The Great Resignation

Many employers are anticipating the Great Resignation this year and a war for talent. Research from Microsoft found that 41% of employees are considering leaving their jobs. Good performance management is key to retention and having regular appraisals and performance reviews is critical. While the pandemic changed how we are working, employees need to feel valued and recognised.

Having visibility over the workforce can enable organisations to function more efficiently and ensure staff are motivated and productive

Appraisal software can help businesses manage the process effectively, nurturing talent and engaging employees. They are about more than about pay or the opinion of one manager, they are key in developing staff and ensuring good performance, which can ultimately improve staff retention.

Embracing HR technology can help firms overcome many of these workplace challenges and free the HR team up from an overwhelming amount of admin. It can help manager spot signs employees have mental health issues, they are not taking holiday leave, as well as those that might have Long Covid.

Having visibility over the workforce can enable organisations to function more efficiently and ensure staff are motivated and productive. This is key to business success in 2022 and making a recovery after a turbulent two years.