The pandemic has meant a transformational few years for HR teams across the globe. Whilst we all had to adapt to new ways of working, HR teams have had to revise the way they do pretty much everything.

Now, you might think HR (meaning Human Resources) is the never-changing management of people in a contractual setting. But in an ever-becoming hybrid world, where teams could be in person, at home or even spread across the globe, HR is fast changing to stand for Human Relations.

This is because businesses small and large alike have FINALLY realised that happy people make more productive workers.

So investing in HR to focus on what makes people happy, practicing good mental health and well-being all make for a more productive (and yes profitable) business.

Here are just some of the trends we expect to see in 2022 and beyond shaping HR:

Hybrid Working is here to stay

The best hybrid working model that sees businesses outperform their traditional counterparts are those which truly embody personalisation, where an employee will always be able to work in a way that allows them to both deliver and be happy, not confined to a 9-5 or tied to an office.

This way of working means employees are less likely to sacrifice their happiness or mental health for the company.

This does not mean fully working from home. (although that may work for some). A recent study by HRZone (Human Connection Survey) found that Gen Z (21-24-year-olds) are more likely to feel isolated as a result of working completely from home with 63% currently feeling this way.

HR will need to adapt policies to be more tailored to individuals and offer real flexibility.

New Policies and Procedures

With hybrid working comes the need for new and additional policies, procedures and perhaps employment contracts. Contracts may have to include additional clauses about the working environment, hours, holidays etc. New policies may include Remote Working, Hybrid Working and Lone Working. Procedures for sickness, absence and holidays will all need to be reviewed and updated to encompass hybrid workforces.

Manager Empowerment

Managers may need additional support to manage a hybrid team effectively. Whether this is managing time spent at computers, creating a healthy working environment, career development, teamwork and/or productivity, managers need to change their leadership style depending on their teams environment.

The HR team will need to reshape it’s leadership and development tools to support managers to change.

Revamping Benefits

As our work life and society as a whole change so does what we perceive to be a benefit in the workplace. Whilst back in the day a free fruit bowl, pizza and beer on a Friday would have won staff over, these are now seen as the norm and no longer cut it. Companies need to step up if they want to remain attractive in a competitive employee climate.

A 2021 survey conducted by Perkbox established that staff would be happier if their companies offered:

· Employee discounts

· Unlimited / Greater amount of holidays

· Free at-home entertainment

· Allowed to always work from home 

Cost of Living Crisis

As inflation continues to increase, remote working for overseas companies offering higher pay may become more attractive to skilled workers. To compete, some companies are starting to shorten their working week rather than increase pay.

Studies have shown that as wages rise, leisure time becomes more valuable and appealing to workers. Therefore reducing the hours’ staff need to work gives less cash-rich employers a better chance to compete with companies offering higher salaries. Ultimately we are likely to see more roles being offered at fewer hours.

Multi-generational Workforce Management 

Now, more than ever, we are seeing a mix of generations making up the majority of the workforce. HR teams are now consistently dealing with:

Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)

Gen X (born 1965 – 1980)

Millennials (born 1981 – 1996)

Generation Z (born 1997 – 2012)

This makes for a diverse workforce, a great pool of hours and skills, but includes additional challenges for HR and managers alike.

It’s key for companies to understand the differences and resemblances between the generations because naturally, being a different generation has an impact on what individuals expect from a role, how they like to be managed, their social and cultural values and how to get the best of them.

For example, Millennials and Gen Z are much more likely to career hop if they aren’t being treated well or fulfilled in their roles and Boomers are more likely to stay with companies for long periods. Boomers tend to thrive under a 9-5 traditionally led environment, whereas Millennials and     Gen Z are more likely to perform better if they can work the hours they want.

Mixed into the same workforce you can see how resentment can build.

Even things down to communication styles can be different (email -v- phone) – understanding all of these differences can make for a happier workforce.

Global workforce

COVID has opened up a new global workforce to businesses that would have never thought it possible to have remote staff.

For HR, this means new challenges in terms of language, international employment regulations and a new recruitment process. Even things like a western approach to a Christmas party will need to be reconceived or alternatives offered to be truly inclusive.

In particular, collaboration and culture will be challenging with a global workforce and HR will need to adapt to create new ways for teams to bond and work together.

Employee turnover

Flexibility is no longer seen as an attraction, it’s a given. Skilled employees now expect flexibility in their job as much as they expect holiday entitlement. Employers that don’t offer flexibility or continue to block such requests will see increased turnover as employees turn to companies that suit their needs.

It looks like the HR team’s worldwide will continue to change as our society changes, but change should be embraced. The future is exciting—to think that people will be happier at their work.

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