The world of work has changed radically in the past two years with hybrid working becoming more commonplace, a growing focus on health and wellbeing and the recruitment and retention being key issues for HR professionals.
This means they are increasingly dealing with a much wider range of issues on top of the usual HR policies and procedures.
Here we outline eight top concerns for HR which are re-shaping the workforce and the role of HR in the modern world with tips for managing them:
Rise in hybrid working
Since the pandemic, more people have been hybrid working after employers and employees realised remote working can work, without impacting productivity. The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, has recently highlighted that more than three-quarters of organisations (78%) allow hybrid working, through either formal or informal arrangements[i].
Making this work effectively, HR needs to ensure people can work seamlessly from any location.
Focus on health and wellbeing
Looking after the health and wellbeing of staff has been moving up the corporate agenda, but COVID-19 cemented it as a priority.
An article in HR Executive[ii] at the start of this year stated that “if HR leaders had to choose one word to define their focus over the last year, “wellbeing” likely would rank near the top. And, according to several experts, that trend is poised to continue well into 2022.”
This has certainly been our experience and many clients are spending a lot of time ensuring their workforce is fit and healthy, so they are happy, motivated, and productive workers.
Spotlight on mental health
Mental health has become a growing area of concern since the pandemic as people dealt with the challenges of lockdowns and remote working.
Employers are increasingly taking mental health issues seriously and putting measures in place to spot early signs that someone may be struggling and offering support if needed.
This is important as a report by GoodShape[iii] at the beginning of this year revealed that mental health issues were the primary reason for people taking time off work in 2021 – with people taking on average 18.8 days off. Worrying 54% of workers who take two or more mental health-related absences, will go on to leave their jobs.
Cost of living crisis
The cost-of-living crisis, with rising inflation and predictions that energy prices will reach eye watering levels by January 2023, is another area in which HR will need to support staff.
This crisis is likely to impact people’s financial wellbeing as well as their mental health as they try to grapple with escalating costs.
We recommend HR teams look at proactive ways to support their workforce over the coming months to ease the financial burden. This may be as simple as talking about how people are coping and encouraging them to speak to their manager about any concerns to keeping a check on absenteeism data. Someone taking more time off than usual could indicate they are struggling so watch out for changes in patterns of behaviour.
Beating the war for talent
In August, the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)’s latest Labour Market Tracker revealed that in July the number of active job adverts across the UK hit a new record high for 2022[iv].
With growing worker shortages across many industries and no signs of this changing any time soon, HR will have to focus even harder on their recruitment and retention strategies to ensure their workforces remain at full strength. This includes looking after people’s wellbeing, as well as offering good career pathways, training, and development.
Keeping a check on absence rates has always been part of HR’s remit, but COVID-19 has added additional pressure from the disease itself as well as the mental health impacts already discussed.
A recent health and wellbeing report from the CIPD highlighted that 67% of organisations said COVID was in their top three causes of absence over the last year[v], with nearly half (46%) of employees having experienced or are experiencing long COVID.
Using technology to monitor absences, those who are 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. It can also enable them to have a clear and transparent record of absence data, as well as insight into trends, which can help managers pinpoint employees who might be suffering from poor mental health so they can support them.
The importance of performance management
Keeping hold of staff is key at a time when many businesses are struggling to fill vacancies is vital. Performance management is important, and it may have had less focus from HR over the past few years in the face of more urgent priorities. It now needs to be back on the agenda.
Last year StaffCircle[vi] found that 61% of employees would consider leaving an organisation if they did not have frequent feedback. Also, a recent survey by IRIS Software Group (IRIS) showed that nearly half (47%) of UK employees don’t see a clear path to progression, and almost three quarters (68%) are facing delayed career growth due to a lack of support from their line managers and HR teams[vii].
Appraisal software can help businesses manage the process effectively, nurturing talent and engaging employees. They are about more than just pay or the opinion of one manager, they are key in developing staff and ensuring good performance, which can ultimately improve staff retention.
A one size fits all approach to benefits is no longer adequate given the challenges outlined above, and HR are increasingly focusing on tailoring benefits to match the needs of their workers.
Benefits need to be in place which support workers with mental health and wellbeing, hybrid working and flexible working and the difficult financial climate.
HR will need to check their employee benefits are still fit for purpose, and they ensure they adapt them if needed to offer the help and support employees require.
Our suite of HR solutions can support HR teams in many of these areas, helping to streamline all aspects of HR management and transforming how the HR department works.
For more information visit: https://www.activpeoplehr.co.uk/