HR managers have always had to do more for the future of work and keep their best talent. They are used to working out the challenges of the needs and wants of a diverse, agile workforce looking for a tailored benefits package and more than just a decent salary. HR teams are used to evolving and adapting to both immediate requirements and long term trends. The transition from being paper-based to being people-based has been a long time in the making.
Then came the pandemic, the 2020 workplace changed in ways that no professional could predict. Leaders came into their own to look after their employees and continue business through the crisis. They took on a more strategic role than ever before, and lessons were learned to give them resilience to the challenges ahead. The crisis has made the need to evolve and adapt much more urgent and acute.
HR managers are the conductors of the orchestra that is the backbone of businesses. As they recalibrate for the future, there are positives ahead. But, when it comes to the challenges, we don’t need our crystal ball to see what’s coming because the pandemic has already writ large the most pressing priorities for 2021.
1. A Distributed Workforce
A distributed workforce is now normality for lots of companies. HR managers know the past year has severely impacted the well-being and mental health of their people. The big challenge is to work out how employee packages can support teams take better care of themselves, and ensure strong take-up of the benefits on offer.
A centralised benefits platform that takes away the administrative burden of manually managing schemes for employees, wherever they are, is crucial. Chasing paper and information around an office is one thing. Trying to do this when teams are working from home is another. Remote teams need a centralised platform to access from any device to the benefits on offer, and good functionality. Take something so simple like an email address, not all team members have a company email. A platform which gives users the flexibility to register their personal email takes burden away from administrators. This is just one example among many.
A digital solution will free up HR managers to spend more quality time on the benefits bit of employee benefits and the people bit of people management.
2. Training and Learning
HR managers and team leaders need to pivot to online training for their distributed workforce. Ongoing employee training is essential to ensure teams have the skills, knowledge and tools they need to do their jobs well, whether working from home, in the workplace, or eventually in a hybrid way. People professionals will need to embrace new models for training as everybody learns how to adapt to new ways of working and changing employee roles in the new normal.
Upskilling and reskilling a remote team is a big challenge. As businesses turn to digital tools, employee-centric training solutions like adaptive learning, tailored to specific individual needs and preferences, can be a big help in unlocking each team member’s full potential.
3. Diversity and Inclusion
Creating an inclusive employee benefits package appealing to all team members will be at the top of the priority list. While there are shared expectations on benefits within multi-generational workforces, each team member comes with differing expectations, needs and wants.
The key to inclusiveness is to create an environment that respects diversity whilst encouraging collective belonging. New thinking and communication are fundamental to ensure all teammates participate in programmes to access tailored benefits to their needs.
HR professionals are people people. It’s what they do best. It comes as no surprise that some are not as technical as their colleagues in other departments. Let’s end on one of the long-term challenges – technology-driven change.
There will always be a need for human connectivity in the workplace however; AI, robots and automation bring opportunities to transform the role of the HR manager and the employee experience. This is not without challenges. HR managers have to play a new, critical role to decide where technology investments are made to leverage gains and reduce risks. This may require a cultural sea-change to involve HR in tech investment decisions to improve employee and business outcomes. It means people professionals need to keep on top of developments and sharpen analytical skills to uncover actionable insight, and the ROI, from initiatives.
These are only some big challenges facing HR managers this year. The future of rewards and recognition is changing, businesses need to continue working out the best way to support their teams for hard work to be recognised and rewarded in the new normal. Then there’s the hardy perennial of recruitment. The list is long. We are here if you need our help.