As an HR and People Teams person, you’ve been juggling many responsibilities – some purely administrative in nature, and some that you believe are strategic to defining the company’s growth trajectory and work culture.
So, while pedalling the customary HR wheel how can you bolt towards building an organization with great work culture, employee sensibility, and exciting work experiences? Can 2018 be that groundbreaking year of exceptional acceptance for HR spokespersons in boardroom conversations and entry into the elite C-suite panel?
While we’ll wait to see if that happens, let’s be in the know that there are some newer and fairly interesting challenges that HR managers all over the world are facing today irrespective of the industry they belong to. Let’s put this in perspective via the following informative list of challenges and ongoing trends.
Challenges All HR Managers Will Have To Face In 2018!
Here are some of the challenges that HR managers will need to address in 2018!
#1. Using Analytics To Enter Boardroom Conversations
Has your employer always made the HR feel like a support function? To make HR a more strategic function capable of being part of the top-C, it is important to have data backing it all the time.
Instead of going with the gut, decision-makers are more likely to listen to you if you have evidence to prove your point.
Creating data dashboards, using data analytics software, creating visualizations, communicating the gaps to senior leaders and extracting people decisions out of this could be a key area of focus for futuristic HR leaders.
There has to be a shift in mindset that HR is not just about talent but also about the organization as a whole. Getting involved deeply in aspects of workplace culture, capability building and outlook is key to show the real worth of HR. In today’s age, companies should be built to be tolerant to rapid changes and growth, and that should be the goal of HR, to create a sound foundation of culture, values, and practices that will not fail in trying times.
#2. Creating Employee Experiences
No doubt, employee engagement has been the top concern for most HR managers and leaders.
According to Cascade HR’s 12-month survey amongst 447 UK-based HR directors, managers and executives, employee engagement got an overwhelming 41% votes as one of the top 3 challenges they predict for 2018.
With baby boomers and traditionalists exiting the workplace and millennials entering the workforce in greater numbers, there is cause for more worry.
Millennials seem to be the least engaged of all the generations at work, according to a report by Gallup!
So, how do our firefighting HR managers tackle such a volatile workspace?
Perhaps, the answer is in creating better employee experiences which sort of incorporates engagement under its umbrella. Along with a focus on employee engagement, matured work culture and good performance management metrics can create an ecosystem that provides a balanced work experience to the ever-demanding millennial workforce!
Ensuring that each stage of an employee’s lifecycle is addressed for its specific needs and is optimized for success (just like a product is for the customer) could be the magic trick to retain top talent while extracting maximum productivity.
Gauging employee perceptions, factoring in cultural, environmental changes and broadening the scope of HR to manage customer (employee) experience is possibly the way forward. Handy HR tools and technology interventions such as feedback apps, communication apps, productivity apps and even wellness apps can be used to keep employee experience upbeat!
#3. Having a Robust Policy Framework
With the #MeToo wave gripping the entire world, HR leaders should proactively update the sexual harassment policies at work. Helpline numbers and HR mentors can ensure timely resolution of employee concerns.
The goal should be to make employees feel safe while apprising them of consequences against illegitimate claims that can irreversibly harm company reputation.
With the increased use of technology, digitalization, and instant communication apps, data security is always a concern. Companies should ensure policies against breach are in place and they protect employer’s legitimate business interests. Confidentiality policies should be in place and companies should strive to protect personal and private information of employees.
Another policy that needs much attention is the extended maternity leave policy for working Indian women which got modified in 2017 to include an extension of 14 weeks above the previously allowed 12 weeks policy. Yet, clarity in information and awareness regarding options is really low among women. It is the duty of HR to provide guidance and information to women who intend to take maternity leave.
Non-traditional work arrangements are a welcome change in the employment sector.
Telecommuting or work from home, short-term contracts, freelancing, internships are becoming the norm.
A well-documented company policy regarding these will provide clarity to applicants and the company will be perceived as being a fair employer in the market.
Company policies should empower employees to make decisions that are satisfying to both his/her and company needs. Robust company policies showcase strong work ethic and such companies can understandably expect the same from employees.
#4. Effectively Tackling Recruitment & Retention
These are not exactly new challenges. They are age-old ones wrapped up in new avatars.
You would agree that technology has made many of the mundane recruitment tasks vanish with the click of a button. So, where’s the challenge? The challenge lies in finding top talent that is truly employable.
For instance, as per an article in a popular Indian magazine, only 7% of graduating engineers in 2013 were actually employable in engineering industries.
In order to avoid glaring hiring mistakes, it is necessitated that HR managers insist on conducting rather stringent selection tests and include gruelling interview processes. This does not mean to scare the potential employee away but to attract talent that only truly fits into an organization’s job requirement.
When it comes to retention, many new factors have come into play.
Employees in the 20-something age group aren’t afraid to change jobs anymore.
According to a report by CareerBuilder, by the age of 35, at least 25% of employees have held five jobs or more.
While employers have become accepting of this trend, it is a daunting task for HR managers to continuously source, train and retain good talent. This challenge though doesn’t seem to fade away. To counter this and to have a good candidate pool always available, the latest trend in the industry is outbound hiring. Using social talent data and predictive analytics, recruiters engage the right people very early on. Employees, on the other hand, discover new opportunities through social and professional networks and tend to respond to companies that seem to value them and give them personalized employee experiences. Hence, the engagement rate is higher in this process.
Consider the case elaborated by Chiou Thien Ling (Michelle), head of group human resources, head of group employee relations and organizational development, Tan Chong Group wherein employees are reluctant to take up jobs in places of different culture and language affiliation. She says,
“If you don’t know how to motivate people, communicate it effectively and get people to feel comfortable in an environment they are unfamiliar with, you will have these challenges of getting people to do other new things, and go elsewhere where we need them to develop themselves with the business.”
It’s time HR managers and recruiters embraced the trend of personalizing the employee experience of not only finding a job but even staying in it!
#5. Managing Diversity At Work
With the world going flat, it is unsurprising that you will come across people from different places, different cultures and those speaking different languages in your close working group.
Generally, the top management and company leaders are very open to employing people from diverse backgrounds. The truth is this policy doesn’t really tick if the ground force employees don’t respect it and worst of all, don’t accept it.
Hence, HR intervention is critical in making diversity a reality in companies. Educating employees and creating awareness isn’t just enough to drive the point home. It is very important to showcase the value that diversity can bring to a workplace – this usually strikes a chord with employees. If employees can see the value diversity can bring in terms of business, growth or company valuation, it can bring about a change in their mindset.
In the words of Tom Linebarger, Chairman and CEO, Cummins Inc.,
“Cummins’ success today would not be possible without our deep commitment to diversity. We want to create an inclusive work environment where the diverse ideas and perspectives of our employees drive innovation for solving tomorrow’s business challenges. Diversity will help us serve our customers around the world and deliver results that will sustain our future growth and success. In short, diversity is critical to our bottom line.”
Employees should see the connection between diversity in gender, economic backgrounds, religion, state and country with the learning, productivity and growth that it can bring about.
In effect 2018 should see the HR landscape changing in multiple ways, as compared to 2017:
- Charting out employee experience maps VS Planning on employee engagement alone;
- People analytics VS People politics;
- Outbound hiring VS inbound hiring;
- Robust policies with employee awareness VS. Policies lost in files;
- HR managers being true ambassadors of diversity VS Being false followers of top management;
- HR function rising to strike strategic conversations VS Being a support function alone.
We believe these new trends can truly turnaround the tables for HR managers in 2018.