8 Ways To Revamp Your Human Resources Strategy For The Great Re-Evaluation

 

The Great Rethink. Employees leaving their jobs in record numbers. Automation displacing human workers in ways unimagined a few years ago.

Welcome to 2022. Some call it a challenging time for the Human Resources field. I prefer to see it as a year of unprecedented opportunity. Now more than ever, your organization requires your leadership to attract and retain top talent.

 

This article is authored Jalie Cohen, Group SVP Human Resources, The Adecco Group Americas

1: Listening is your secret weapon for retention

2: Digital transformation is here

3: New world working

4: Wellbeing to the forefront

5: Diversity and inclusion

6: Learning never stops

7: Rollin’ on a river

8: Corporate empathy and true leadership

These are eight trends HR leaders must capitalize on this year. They all provide focus on pivoting HR strategies and being agile enough to adapt to the changing needs of workers. These are not individual trends that HR leaders can select, but pieces that make up the new world of work and our role as leaders of talent.

 

Listening to people continues to be a critical skill, and one that somehow escapes too many executives. In 2022, focus on developing a feedback loop with both management/leaders and employees. People analytics, and data-driven feedback methods, such as tracking retention or engagement survey data, are vital — but not, on their own, sufficient. HR leaders need to leverage this data to drive actual conversations, understand the needs and expectations of the current workforce, agree to ways of working or other aspects, and commit to actions to sustain change.

 

Digital transformation was a vague buzzword, a “nice-to-have,” in past years. Not anymore. It’s a reality, a key transformational driver throughout the enterprise, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has resulted in a significant increase in remote working.

This year, HR leaders must connect leadership and business needs with employees’ capabilities through effective digital platforms as hybrid working now dictates a balance between in person and virtual working. That entails helping to create virtual internal talent marketplaces that foster inclusion, understanding modern technology, all while ensuring better online collaboration in the new hybrid era of work. It’s aboutweaving purpose through the organization’s business culture and activities through virtual communications and prioritising more data-driven decisions.

It’s not all about data, though. It’s just as important to include an understanding rooted in empathy. That context and data combined should drive decisions. Going forward, HR will need to own many of these essential processes.

 

The brave new normal of hybrid and remote working has been written about widely — including on our Future of work insights, where we’ve explored helping new hires adapt, maximizing remote teams, and more. It’s absolutely vital that HR stay on the leading edge of this long-term trend. Companies have turned to their HR teams for advice on every topic relating to their people. This ranges from remote onboarding to navigating a scarce talent market heavily driven by the needs and expectations of the worker to increasing diversity at the leadership level to how to create the workforce fit for the future.

It’s imperative that leaders take the time to reset their base understanding of the needs of their employees as the new way we work involves more than only physical location and it is more about introducing flexible work models that consider all aspects of what your people need. HR must act as the conduit between the employee and the company in order to create a model that works in their company. People have begun to reassess where they want to spend their time and energy both personally and professionally.

As an example referenced in this flexible working models guide, the Adecco Group has developed its own New World Working Guiding Principles to support our people. In addition to considering hybrid working, we also are reviewing productivity metrics—to better consider how our workers are being rewarded for results. Smart planning and agile working are also important, as employers leverage technology to maximise effectiveness and provide ongoing training opportunities while still putting employee wellbeing at the forefront.

 

The pandemic has prompted many employees to re-prioritise their wellbeing and even take a more holistic view of their wellbeing. As Gordana Landen, Adecco Group’s CHRO, pointed out recently, it is time to put a spotlight on wellbeing “and talk openly about how companies can better support their people, their wellbeing, and their mental health — especially as companies begin shifting to a post-pandemic future.” This remains true and provides an opportunity for HR to lead the way.

Wellbeing should be considered holistically as one aspect of wellbeing can impact the other. For example, physical health and social wellbeing are linked. Studies have shown that exercises, from dancing to aerobics to swimming and beyond, can help alleviate depression and anxiety. As such, the Workforce Vitality Model, created by the Adecco Group Foundation, is a good starting point for any company when considering a holistic approach to employee well-being that unites both top-down management and bottom-up feedback.

 

Investing in a diverse and inclusive culture is no longer an ask, it is an established expectation. HR leaders must focus on understanding their employee populations and client groups to build programs that improve employee engagement, support non-traditional employees, and incorporate inclusive policies that reflect generational differences while driving retention and cross-functional collaboration.

This will mean reviewing the recruitment process and employee career development from the ground up — traditional views on how to leverage people, technology and processes must evolve to allow a person’s true skills to shine through. Aspects like accessibility, blind CVs and gender-neutral messaging, pronoun consideration, to name a few, must be integrated throughout the employee experience.

 

According to a Boston Consulting Group study, more than two-thirds of workers globally are willing to retrain for new jobs. And yet in our latest workers research, just 58% of respondents said their company has a clear strategy to train employees in new digital skills that the company will need in the future. And only 37% of non-managers feel their company is investing effectively in developing their skills. That gap is a problem that HR leaders will need to address.

Our current workforce is comprised of four different generations, each with their own learning styles and their own needs. Employers need to consider upskilling and reskilling workers a priority when looking to attract and retain top talent. It’s much more efficient to train a worker for current skills they need.

HR staffers will need to steer employers to include hiring people for skills – not just their degrees. Hiring managers need to look beyond conventional candidates (educated, employed workers) and consider applicants with transferable skills from other industries and other jobs. Skills-based hiring will become increasingly prevalent and a necessity for many employers looking to widen their job pool – and access non-traditional candidates.

Expect such concepts to advance in 2022 due to sheer necessity; according to the OECD, more than a billion jobs will be transformed by technology in the next decade, and in the very short term, 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs will change.

 

Talent pools are out. Talent rivers (the philosophy was developed by Pontoon Solutions) are in. The difference? Talent pools are static, even stagnant, while rivers are always in motion. Candidates no longer sit in talent pools, hoping to be selected, but instead are constantly moving. HR leaders must adapt to these new waters, if they are to capture the right talent at the right time and place. That means adopting the same “lean” principles that have upended software development to design a faster, more agile, more responsive hiring process.

But it also means looking at non-conventional sources of talent, such as creating returnship programs to bring populations back into the workforce.

 

As Adecco Group CEO Alain Dehaze has said, the Great Re-Evaluation has empowered workers in new ways. One trait increasingly insisted upon by these employees — especially up and coming generations — is an organisation in which discussing one’s emotions and personal life is not only permissible, but encouraged. This new attitude is often called emotional intelligence or corporate empathy. It is about understanding people’s emotions in work situations and being able to talk openly about those emotions, whether they arise from a personal situation or a work situation. For example, say a team is under a great deal of stress, and this results in displays of emotion during team calls. Rather than ignoring the situation, a leader might ask what is causing the emotions, listen to answers, and make an adjustment to reduce stress and improve team wellbeing.

This empathy is especially important given the myriad changes for workers and leaders in the ways we work: remote and hybrid employment, automation, etc. Executives and managers who may have been brought up equating emotion with weakness need to adapt, and HR leaders will play a key role here. The focus should be on training leaders and providing them with access to coaching to lead in a new era that demands emotional intelligence and effective remote communication.