After 2 years of massive upheaval for business, organisations and employees, we have come out as far more flexible, empathetic and digital organisations. The coming half decade will bring a new set of challenges to the fore that are related to a more competitive labour market, a more empowered workforce, and inflationary pressures. For companies to thrive they need to be aware of these pressures and set themselves up to succeed. It is a moment where HR leadership is more important than ever to ensure business success. We hope this list helps you think through what your role will be and how you plan your strategy!
1. Ubiquitousness of Employee Experience (EX)
You will not stop hearing about, talking about and considering your Employee’s Experience. As workforce guru Josh Bersin says, it is just becoming ‘ubiquitous’. Whereas once we only considered and spoke about the customer experience, we now need to be more programmed to think about the employee experience from their initial recruitment, onboarding, training, management, reporting, and even their exit. The community we build at our company is something that speaks volumes about who we are as companies. And simply put, to attract and keep the best talent, the better the experience, the better the talent, the better the business.
Here’s a little tip, the key to creating and maintaining an irresistible organisation is listening. Listen to what employees want so you can create the best EX.
2. Pressure internally and externally to diversify leadership
Let’s start by being very clear, this is an unsolved problem, and despite more effort not too much has been achieved.
Top tips to deliver results:
- Lean into inclusion, not just diversity.
- Make sure their are D&I partners throughout the organisation, not just HR.
- Start listening to employees and enable tough conversations.
- CEO buy-in
- Ensure D&I strategy driven at all levels and that everyone is accountable for the results.
This is no longer a nice-to-have, as a HR leader you have to make an impact on this topic, get results and advertise the progress.
3. More and new skills required to do the job
The focus during the last couple of years has slipped away from strong L&D initiatives, but as a new normal settles in, it's time to upskill to stay ahead of the curve.
The fact that the total number of skills required for a single job is increasing at 6.3% annually, and new skills are replacing old ones, makes it imperative that we dig into what expertise will be required to best support your teams to succeed. Again, perhaps stating the obvious, but 29% of the skills that were present in an average job posting in 2018 will be obsolete by 2022.
In the book, The Alliance, by Linkedin cofounder Reid Hoffman, he speaks of employees doing tours of duty with employers. Essentially, he argues there are no jobs for life, there is no genuine long term loyalty between employer and employee, so let’s be honest with each other and say: “Help make our company more valuable, and we’ll make you more valuable.” . In turn, Employees need to tell their bosses, “Help me grow and flourish, and I’ll help the company grow and flourish.”
Employees invest in the company’s success; the company invests in the employees’ market value.
Companies that quickly re-focus on learning and development will gain a competitive advantage in attracting and retaining key talent into the future, and critically they can be a winner rather than a loser from the Great Resignation. And note, this process begins with the job spec and the interview process, not one year into someones employment, but it is never too late to start!
4. Transformation due to partial hybrid workforce
Remote working is a massive area of upheaval. This is not a judgement, this is stating the facts. Remote working may bring numerous mental health or environmental benefits, but setting up and managing your workforce to be productive and effective is challenging. You know this already, a lot has been said, done and written on the topic. What can we say that will help you?
We would urge you to lean in to a more progressive approach to remote working. By this we mean you need to encourage an honest and trusting culture. The temptation to Big Brother your infrastructure ought to be resisted as much as possible.
We would encourage you to use the transition to remote working to become an employer that values employee wellbeing. Again, this is nothing new, but something that must be accelerated. When employees are empowered and not only concerned about their pay packet, you need to be on top of your game to understand what they are looking for and that requires a caring approach, but most importantly a listening approach.
Finally, without going into the weeds of how you setup your infrastructure, we would encourage more team bonding exercises, trips and away days. We like remote working, but you have to acknowledge that traditional in-office bonds are likely to weaken. A great response to this is to more consciously bring teams together. This is not an excuse for a party or more alcohol, but rather curated gatherings which are a combination of work planning, team building and some time to just be human and chat.
5. Meeting employee expectations: listening and valuing your people
Finally, did you spot the common denominator in all future HR trends?
This is a timely moment for a poignant quote! Whether this was genuinely said by the Dalai Lama I don’t know, but either way, it is a goody:
"When you talk you are only repeating what you already know. But if you listen, you may learn something new."
Listening to your employees is the number one skill for successful businesses, and HR is where that power and potential can be unlocked. Researching, setting up and running an Employee Listening Program has got to be the foundation for your success.
Note that this is a new program. The future of your organisation does not rely on your engagement survey! You need to think a little bit bigger here. Pulse surveys can form part of your listening program, but what you really need here is what might be called a Speak-up platform which encompasses various channels, preferably with anonymous options, ideally run by an independent third-party expert, and covering the full gamut of speak up options from sentiment on specific topics, through to a better exit interviews.
Taking the next step
The last 2 years have been difficult, and from that hardship organisations have come away more resilient, built on flex, empathy and new technology. As human capital trends merge with exiting lockdowns globally, we need to move to making a new set of plans built on a progressive long term vision.
As discussed, the pressures we face include the ubiquitousness of EX, EDI pressure, demand for new skills and of course coping with a hybrid workforce. We believe that each of these challenges must be met with the power of listening! We hope these tips help you plan for the coming years and empower you to do some of your most impactful work.
As experts in helping organisations listen to and respond to their employees, feel free to reach out to us at any time to talk all things voice, data, tech and talent!