HR is on the brink of a paradigm shift

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​This year has presented some incredible challenges, with HR and business leaders worldwide needing to step up to navigate this turbulent time.

The second coronavirus wave is very much on the horizon, and much will be asked, and expected, from HR departments as companies restart and reset amid the ongoing pandemic.

As HR leaders, not only do we need to become more proactive in identifying issues before they become big enough to impact operations, we also need to start formulating meaningful plans to be truly impactful in the post-pandemic era.

We must firstly provide a modern, unified employee experience. A dispersed workforce promises greater access to talent and more flexibility, but this comes with new challenges.

Prior to the pandemic, 74% of employees felt they were missing out on company news and information. Now, establishing connectedness across a decentralised workforce is a greater challenge. Employee experience is extremely critical when people are working remotely, to mitigate employee anxiety through these uncertain times.

Leaders who respond effectively to meet changing employee needs, and build valuable experiences for their workforce will reap the benefits in several ways.

Not only will it support the bottom line, but it can also help more easily attract, engage, and retain top talent so companies can focus their people and resources on strategic, value-generating initiatives.

Let’s also embrace agility in your recruitment strategy. Much has been written on the impact of automation - and the demand for technical skills that don’t currently exist in today’s workforce.

The most in-demand skills of the future are industry-agnostic. According to LinkedIn’s Future of Recruiting report, a top priority in the next five years for talent acquisition professionals is keeping up with rapidly changing hiring needs. This means companies must detach from the practice of sourcing candidates with all the required skills for open job roles and adopt a more agile approach to finding top talent.

The pandemic has created a new workplace reality where people now recognise the importance of “essential” and “non-essential" jobs. Organisations that thrive in this new world of work are effective at empowering their people with greater control of their work life, while also optimising schedules and workforce planning. They understand that these priorities are interrelated.

Self-service technology that allows employees to quickly schedule time off or swap shifts with a co-worker can not only help employees gain control of their schedules, but also help managers quickly cover for shift gaps.

In fact, Gallup reports that employees who have greater control over their own schedules are more likely to be engaged, which can lead to 21% greater profitability and 59% less turnover.

Moving past 2020, HR must be ready for a paradigm shift and change management. The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that “my employer” was the most trusted institution when it comes to coronavirus-related communication. The sense of loss of control can be a common feeling during the pandemic. The best antidote is to be well-informed with accurate, reliable information.

For leaders in the workplace, this means regularly referencing recognised authorities on the pandemic, such as The World Health Organization. When discussing the business, give teams transparent accounts of what’s happening across the whole enterprise, what’s being done to keep things moving forward, and how the people in the organisation are faring – positively affecting talent results.

The return to work will be complicated. As restrictions are lifted, and perhaps re-introduced, HR leaders will need to navigate the complexities, step up and challenge their organisations to act in alignment with their values.

Kristofer Karsten is head of human resources at Ceridian Europe

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