Following two disruptive years thanks to COVID-19, the workforce continues to forge ahead – resilient and even more adaptable. Nonetheless, there are still remnants of disruption within the business landscape, such as supply chain shortages and the Great Resignation among others. Initiatives are a tool that organisations can easily utilise for results.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated some of the workplace transformations that some organisations and businesses have long been championing. All these triggered a slew of HR priorities in which business leaders and HR have to react in a coordinated manner.
Based on Gartner’s 2022 HR Trends Report which surveyed over 500 HR leaders in diverse industries across 60 countries, key areas which HR leaders will focus on are:
- Building future-ready critical skills and competencies
- Organisational design and change management
- Current and future leadership bench
- Future of work
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
Here are some initiatives that HR leaders can implement to address these 5 key areas.
Restructuring leadership programmes for managers
With hybrid work arrangements becoming the norm in the majority of organisations today, managers have reduced visibility on their direct subordinates’ daily activities. During the lockdown period of the pandemic, there were horror stories of workplace micromanagement at its extreme – a manager tracking when an employee logs into the Skype or Microsoft Teams, forcing employees to turn on their cameras the entire day or even making employees go back to office. These were perhaps some of the reasons that spurred the Great Resignation which these same organisations struggle with today.
Amidst the hybrid work environment, managers need to be empathetic in order to continue building and nurturing the critical skills and competencies to build a future-ready workforce in 2022 and beyond. Managers who lead with empathy develop high levels of trust with their employees, create a culture of transparency and acceptance within their teams, and prioritise people over processes. They also contextualise performance and behaviour – proactively asking questions and seeking information to better understand the specifics of their direct reports’ contexts. This provides an avenue for employees to thrive and focus on their personal and career development. An empathetic manager should offer a nurturing and guiding environment for employees to flourish, and this begins by offering managers the right tools and coaching to educate them in leading their own teams effectively.
Adapting to ever-changing employees’ needs
As the pandemic continues to accelerate changes in the workplace today, business leaders need to be more attuned to employees’ ever-changing needs. With hybrid arrangements becoming a norm, more employees are starting to see the lines between work and personal life blur. Mental well-being, and diversity and inclusion and being the talk of the town. As talent today knows no boundaries and geographical barriers, employees today have the upper hand. As such, business leaders and HR will need to be prepared to keep up with upcoming work trends and adapt to talent needs if they want to maintain a competitive position in attracting and retaining talent.
Adopting a skills-centric approach to talent management
With the constant evolution of the nature of work, organisations that adopt a skills-centric approach to talent management stand to gain a competitive edge over other organisations. According to an article by Gartner, 47% of the 339 surveyed HR leaders reported not knowing what skills gaps their current employees have. At the same time, 40% said they were unable to develop skill development solutions fast enough to meet evolving skill needs. Skills today are reshaping the way we think about jobs. And this impacts the way jobs are assigned and an employee’s potential career trajectory. When a skills-based approach is implemented in the right way, this shapes the workforce to become more agile. An agile workforce will ultimately be able to deliver higher productivity and efficiency required in the competitive talent landscape today.
Building a positive change environment
Change is inevitable within the workplace and change is often unprecedented. Mergers and acquisitions, change in leadership, a business split – these string of changes typically result in employees bearing the main brunt of the impact. In fact, the same Gartner report indicated that 54% of 274 HR leaders surveyed on their 2022 priorities reported that their employees are suffering from change fatigue. Small day-to-day changes – different teammates, a new manager, small process or system shifts – are much more prevalent and 2.5 times more fatiguing to employees than big transformational changes. These changes require business leaders to create a positive environment that offers employees career progression opportunities, personal development, rewards, and recognition. To help employees adapt to change, trust and communication is key. In fact, employees with high trust levels in senior leaders are 2.6 times more receptive to change. Given today’s ambiguous business climate, it becomes even more critical to build a positive change environment to attract and retain critical employees and talent.
Drive diversity, equity and inclusion practices
Despite being the talk of the town for years, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) still struggle to make headway today. Gartner’s article on Leadership Diversity Stalled? Here Are 3 Actions to Take revealed that 36% of HR leaders surveyed struggled to hold business leaders accountable for DEI outcomes. Additionally, research conducted by Gartner shows that the progression of underrepresented talent stalls in mid-level and senior level positions. In the COVID-19 crisis, DEI matters more than ever. They are critical factors that facilitate business recovery, resilience and reimagination. As organisations focus on addressing employees’ most basic needs throughout the pandemic, newly-implemented measures should cater to all employees, regardless of job level, nature of job or even gender. Given that DEI helps to foster a more inclusive and cohesive workplace environment, it could help companies unlock the power of DEI as an enabler of increased business performance and organisational health.