When pursuing a career in Human Resources (HR) or progressing to a more senior HR role, it is important to stay up to date with key trends affecting the HR sector. This knowledge will help you to know what may be expected of you in the ever-changing HR profession.
2020 and 2021 saw huge shifts within the HR sector, with the impact of the pandemic resulting in multiple changes in the way many people work. HR trends will likely see a continuation of the preference for hybrid working, a further emphasis on employee wellbeing and skills development, Artificial Intelligence (AI) impacting recruitment processes, and an increase in the demand for more fulfilling and rewarding job roles.
Key Trends affecting the HR profession
Coordinating and implementing hybrid work models – many people started working from home for the first time during the pandemic, this trend is set to continue even as we ease out of lockdowns.
Many employers have realised the benefits of remote working and combining this with an office presence, when necessary, creates a fluid work pattern that allows employees to decide where and how they work.
In a survey carried out by YouGov, 81% of UK workers who have transitioned to hybrid working during the pandemic want to continue doing so.
To make this working style successful, HR teams may be required to:
- Update or implement flexible working policies and procedures.
- Introduce effective remote workforce communication.
- Implement appropriate training and development plans, focusing on new skills required.
- Consider any legal implications of this working model, such as tax benefits, employment contracts, and place of work addresses.
- Determine how to support hybrid workers’ wellbeing, inclusion, and team building.
- Issue updated KPIs to assess employee performances when working from home.
Implementing wellbeing programmes – the COVID-19 pandemic forced many people to work from home and this led to some workers feeling isolated, stressed, and unsupported. In light of the fact many employers are continuing with hybrid working, HR departments need to create and implement employee wellbeing programmes that will support those coming into the workplace, and those working from home.
According to the 2020 CIPD Health and Wellbeing at Work Survey, the most common cause of long-term sickness absences in UK workplaces is mental health related. Good employee wellbeing impacts productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction.
The leadership qualities needed for HR teams to facilitate employee wellbeing at work include:
- Proactively identifying any cultural boundaries or social stigmas around speaking out about mental health at work.
- Helping to build a culture of care in the workplace.
- Empower team leaders and line managers to instil strong work-life boundaries.
- Implement online survey tools to detect any emerging wellbeing issues.
- Provide support in the appropriate form, including mindfulness apps, virtual counselling, peer support or digital therapeutics.
Using cloud-based Artificial Intelligence (AI) for recruitment processes – it is predicted that the use of technology in HR, specifically in supporting recruitment, will undergo many technological advancements in the next 5 years.
Recruiters who are willing to embrace and invest in new tech may have access to technology that can help to centralise recruitment, reduce human error, eliminate risk of bias, increase efficiency, and reduce costs. These technologies include:
- The use of algorithms to sift through candidate CVs for skill matches and relevant experience.
- AI search software that trawls the internet to find the perfect candidate for a specific job role.
- AI created job adverts, designed to attract the right candidates.
- Unbiased recruitment robots to conduct job interviews with human candidates.
- AI tech and science-based behavioural assessments to collect objective data that can accurately measure a jobseeker’s potential.
- Cloud-based talent acquisition platforms that can automatically rank and grade applicants.
Coordination and implementation of mentorship programmes – a successful mentorship programme can help guide employees throughout their professional journeys, and can result in increased retention rates and productivity, improved job satisfaction, a collaborative culture and create a more positive work environment.
The purpose of such programmes should be to facilitate employee advancement, nurture growth and develop skills through a mentor sharing experiences, imparting knowledge, and offering guidance. Before implementing the programme, training should be offered to mentors, so they understand what is expected from them, how best to support their mentees and how to produce the best results.
Key considerations when developing a mentorship programme should include:
Define your goals. Give your mentees clear targets, attainable objectives, and measurable results. An individuals’ goal could include integrating new hires, leadership development, or skill improvement.
Define your process. Consider how employees apply, how a mentor is allocated, are sessions in a group setting or one-to-one, how often they should meet and how progress is assessed and tracked.
Define your participants. To create a diverse pool of participants, it is advisable to choose mentors who are well-respected, experienced, and successful within the organisation. Select your mentees from those who are well positioned for career advancement and who are dedicated to their job.
Define your matches. Mindfully pairing your mentors and mentees can result in an enriching opportunity for both parties. Allowing your participants to make the final selection from recommended matches can give them ownership over the process and encourage engagement.
Other key trends to look out for in the HR sector include the revamping of employee perks, investing in talent acquisition and retention, decentralising the HR function, ensuring diversity and inclusion in the workplace and, taking into account the recent upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic, change-management training and scenario planning.
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