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Five big forces hitting HR. Can they help you bounce back?

How is HR changing during 2021?

The primary forces impacting HR are the pandemic, which can be subdivided into twin pressures of needing to improve commercial performance and needing to nurture a workforce that has undergone a massive shift in their outlook and attitude to life, work and the future. The second force is the tidal wave of technology bringing seismic shifts to HR in the form of data, analytics and automation.

As Deloitte outline in their Workforce Strategies for Post Covid Recovery report, HR teams have primarily focused on responding to the pandemic. The challenge now is to recover, and then move on to thrive in a post-pandemic environment.

This challenge is undeniably a marathon, not a sprint, and there may be some back-tracking if subsequent Covid waves cause further lockdowns or containment measures. As we will discuss in this article, organisations should consider how to bake flexibility into their practices so that future shocks will be easier to absorb.

This topic is one we’ve covered in depth in our 6-part series about business recovery - Leadership in a Changed World.

For now, let’s explore five trends that are shaping the future of HR, and consider how they might impact your organisation as you emerge from the pandemic.

Big data is here and demands to be used

Organisations are increasingly turning to Big Data to address commercial challenges, and now they are increasingly seeing the value of data and analytics to improve a range of HR functions, including recruitment, health and wellbeing monitoring, training optimisation, reporting, performance management, and employee retention.

Harnessing this data may be a simple task if your HR processes are centralised with one or two core systems, but many organisations will rely on a blend of dedicated systems, spreadsheets and paper records, which may make analytics and interpretation harder to achieve.

HR dashboard software or HR analytics software may be required to pull together the different strands of data and turn them into actionable insights. Additionally, you may need to augment your HR team with professionals who understand how to manage data, utilise HR tools, and convert insights into actions.

Tate’s HR recruitment consultants understand the challenges you face right now, and can help you find the right talent to grow your business. We rely on a blend of technology-enabled innovation and close customer relationships to efficiently bring our clients the right people at the right time.

Your colleagues’ priorities may have changed

Covid changed everything, including what we value. That’s not to say that successive lockdowns made everyone want to move to the country and join a commune; for every person planning a re-wilding, there is one planning to work more and party less.

Covid has shaken up our priorities, but there is not a common thread uniting the changes. Some people want more security, some want more freedom. Others are seeking thrills while some search for predictability. Some people found time to think during lockdown, while others only had time to panic.

“I didn't want work to be such an integral part of my identity anymore.” – Natasha, London (Refinery 29)

The only common denominator is that priorities have changed. We can’t define what this means for your colleagues and your organisation. The best place to start might be with a process of questioning colleagues about how they feel, what matters most, and how they see their future.

“I have definitely thrown myself into work more, picking up more side hustles to bolster my financial security.” – Jessica, Southend (Refinery 29)

Once you understand your team’s current priorities, you can ensure your organisation continues to fulfil their needs and support their ambitions. Leaders play a critical role in this process, because they have the clearest view of their teams and the greatest opportunities to gather these insights and respond to evolving needs. This is something we recently explored in our article on leadership post-covid.

Learning from home

In addition to working out the practicalities of working from a home office, your colleagues need to acquire new skills and tackle entirely new working challenges, including how you develop your colleagues when they are working remotely and potentially overwhelmed.

It could be as simple as:

  • Identify the skills that matter right now.
  • Focus on quality training that achieves meaningful impact.
  • Seek ways to weave learning and development into everyday tasks and processes.

For many organisations, this process will demand a ruthless re-evaluation of learning assets and processes. Do your courses, content and applications offer a positive experience to all learners? Or is some of your material outdated, irrelevant, or inconvenient to use?

Could you make better use of flexible learning approaches like lessons by email, mobile-friendly content, or turning videos into podcasts? Peer support and development groups can also encourage the formation of social bonds, while sharing knowledge organically. 1.