Stepping into 2022, the role of HR professionals is more critical now than it was before. They are the ones who will reconsider the basic tenets of their company, says Sonica Aron
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that companies, to a great extent, be it in any industry, have met or are gradually meeting the challenges of the current global health crisis situation. However, as we move towards the post-pandemic era, their strategies and policies of the past will no longer meet the needs of the evolving workforce.
The last two years have changed a lot. Not just the way we work, though it has become evident that remote and hybrid working models can be as effective as erstwhile physical/ in-person working models if managed effectively. The changes go deeper. People have changed in the way they think of work, work-life balance, their expectations from employers, their growth and job satisfaction.
Hence, organisations will need to evolve and adapt management styles that are flexible, responsive, and established around employee speak, including more connection, simplification and automation, demographic shifts, and much more.
Stepping into 2022, the role of HR professionals is critical than ever before as they are the ones who will reevaluate the basic tenets of their company in order to support the right shift, balancing between business growth needs, employee experience and retention.
Role of HR in organisational success
- Establish a healthy culture: It is one of the most important predictors of how effectively a company achieves its goals. Employees that are glad to come to work will be more driven to move the company forward in the long run. It's possible that a company's culture could use a makeover. Connecting with people to understand what they expect in today’s times is key. Is it Real time communication? Is it transparency? Is it real time feedback? Is it about owning their own learning?
After determining the workforce expectations, it is important to act on it and ensure that everyone in the business is on the same page so that everyone can contribute to moving the new corporate culture forward. It will require a holistic approach and not just reprinting slogans. It will need changing processes, policies, ways of working and embedding key behaviours in day-to-day transactions.
It will require being receptive to new ideas and opinions, on how to do things differently, deploying new processes and practises.
- Change with the times: The world has changed and will continue to evolve over time. Employees' needs will also vary because of this. We will need to take chances and adapt – not be hesitant to implement new processes and solutions to fulfil your employees' ever-changing demands. Offering customised perks and ways of working could be one way to meet such needs.
Depending on where they are in life, employees may seek different benefits and work arrangements. An employee who is responsible for a family of four will most likely want and desire a different benefits package and work environment than a recent college graduate who is just starting out in their profession. Before making any decisions, It would be critical to understand the demographic landscape of the organisation in detail and understand employee life stages and needs.
- Map skill gaps: Every company probably requires specific expertise as business models and markets have evolved. By speaking with several departments, one may get a good idea of which functional and behavioural competencies individuals, teams, managers, and leaders require right now and which they will require in the future. Then, to address those needs, plan the capability building agenda, and talent acquisition agenda accordingly.
- Target employee retention: We have all witnessed the big quit and we are all aware of the tangible and intangible costs associated with voluntary attrition. It is not always easy to find a replacement on time, leading to productivity loss; loss of tacit knowledge, experience, clients; added extra responsibilities for existing employees, resulting in overwork, burnout and more attrition. Creating a culture where employees feel valued, included, where their contribution is recognized and appreciated, where they feel happy and have fun is critical. A holistic approach to employee retention goes beyond fun Fridays, zero meeting hours and birthday celebrations. An employee experiences an organisation each day, each moment through their managers and their peers, and building psychologically safe team environments is key to retention. This would be a key role of the HR function in 2022, given that most businesses would be on an ambitious growth path, they should not lose sight of this goal.
- Understand business strategy: End of the day, People are the business’s most important asset, and the HR function is the custodian of this asset. The deeper the HR function understands the company's business plan, the more effectively they can leverage the human potential in the organisation through the right policies, processes, structures, and culture.
HR function is like the arterial system that runs across the organisation, across C-suite leaders, departmental managers, and employees, disseminating the purpose, main objectives, and cultural values of your company. Possessing sound knowledge of both business tasks and of employees’ needs, expectations, skills, competencies, and aspirations, they have the lethal combination of making businesses succeed.
The world of HR is constantly changing, and new trends will emerge. HR will continue to be the driving force behind many new strategies and policies, as we have witnessed over the last two years, such as improving employee experience, developing new organisational models, creating a more flexible workforce, and much more. 2022 is going to be yet another exciting year for the HR function!
The writer is Founder and Managing Partner, Marching Sheep