There is one department that shouldered much of the pandemic's stressors. You guessed it — it was Human Resources. The role these teams play is finally being acknowledged as so much more than just labor law compliance, conflict management, and ‘soft’ nice-to-haves.
Not only are HR teams hiring new talent to craft high-functioning teams, they are responsible for the whole of employee experience.
Alongside customer experience, EX is now a fully-fledged corporate priority — a constantly running project closely mapped to business strategy, which is constantly measured, analysed, and optimised.
What is top of mind for these teams now? We surveyed HR experts both in-house here at Winningtemp as well as within our network to hear what their top challenges and priorities are. Iterations of the following 5 challenges appeared at the top of their lists.
“How do we….
1. Give employees a greater sense of purpose in their working lives?
There is no doubt about it, millennials — who now make up 50% of the global workforce — are reshaping the workplace. Things that were once “put up” with (long hours, low pay) simply aren’t acceptable any longer. Even pre-pandemic, millennials were vocal about greater work-life balance and more respect for ethics in the workplace.
But it’s not about putting a ball pit and some bean bags in the office and calling it a day. It’s about respecting that work is only a part of what makes a person whole and understanding that the other areas of someone’s life need equal nourishment.
As said by Rahat Joshi Rishi, senior HR professional turned People Scientist at Winningtemp,
Younger talents are looking for things that are new for most organisations — they are looking for purpose, for meaningfulness in their lives. Millennials do not want to work in companies that are not sustainable, for example. So the challenge is to create an environment and work with principles that allow talents to thrive.
According to the 2021 Fortune Best Workplaces for Millennials survey, the alignment of pay with a sense of purpose and meaning at work was the most sought after offering millennials look for in an employer.
Elin Hartelius, Founder of Impact Arena, confirms that,
Employees today are becoming increasingly purpose-driven and want to feel that what they do matters and contributes to a better world.
Winning-tip: Give employees a voice and a vote in how your organisation develops and responds to demands in the market. In this way, a more authentic sense of purpose can emerge and be co-created.
2. Support employees in keeping their energy and team spirit up while working remotely?
While for the most part, engagement levels have dipped far less dramatically than expected during the pandemic, Forbes report that emerging data is beginning to show that remote workers are less engaged than those who spend time in the office. Without the physical presence of people, it can be difficult to keep the momentum of a positive, energised, and inclusive atmosphere.
Sara Holmberg, Head of HR at Winningtemp, observed that,
Culture-wise, it has been challenging for some leaders to keep up the energy and the sense of team spirit when everyone is consistently working remotely.
By now, most companies have seized the obvious low-hanging fruits of replacing in-person coffee chats with digital ones and holding team-building exercises as creatively as an internet connection will allow.
While this is important, the positive energy can be short-lived. Everyone is together for the purpose of working after all — why not share in an activity together that significantly impacts how well everyone can work together?
Create the space to talk openly about how work is feeling, as an individual and as a whole team. What roadblocks are being faced? What conditions would make for more effective collaboration? Talking about the elephants in the room is energising. Afterwards, everyone moves forward together as a stronger team.
Winning-tip: Use employee engagement data as the waterhole everyone gathers around. This provides a neutral yet honest starting point for these kinds of more vulnerable discussions.
3. Create the space for (regular) reflection on the personal, team, and organisational level?
Oftentimes in a business, productivity is considered the most important measure of success. In our haste to always be creating, we can leave little time to reflect on how successful our productivity really was.
As said by Elin,
Reflection is a hugely underestimated tool for development and culture building.
Certainly, for decades now, leaders have assumed the annual survey was reflection enough. Indeed, it ticks several boxes. Group reflection? Tick. Individual reflection? Tick.
And yet, HR teams everywhere continually come with the same concern that conducting these large annual surveys are too big a burden — both for employees and managers to complete, and for their own teams to gather and analyse. And by the time their careful analysis is complete, the findings are outdated and rendered irrelevant. Thankfully, this form of reflection is being let go. Sayonara.
How are HR teams going to meet the challenge of making reflection more regular and more insight-rich in 2022? It's hard to reflect on a blank page. Which is why HR teams are starting to automate the collection of employee feedback and weave this in to everyone's weekly work life.
Instead of once a year, light-touch surveys are prompting employees to reflect on their work situation all throughout the year. The analysis of this feedback and active reflection can then happen in parallel. Put another way: HR is migrating to a more agile, more manageable approach to reflection and taking action.
4. Get managers onboard in co-creating an excellent employee experience?
Sandra Strindeborn, Onboarding & Learning Design Specialist at Induction says,
The most important thing now is to include all managers in EX strategy, to help them understand that it is important, and then work even more with the managers to achieve results from HR's activities. If HR does not have a good relationship with the organisation's managers, all activities that are done or implemented by HR will not be as successful.
Like any other corporate priority, all managers need to be well informed about the purpose and strategy behind their company’s goals for employee experience. And they will likely need a little help in what that actually means when it comes to execution.
In 2022, we will likely be seeing a closer relationship between HR departments and managers, and goals for EX elaborated on department and team levels. This work will pay dividends: it helps ensure that your company is really living its values.
Winning-tip: Include managers as you are crafting or refining your employee experience strategy, and give them the tools to measure how they are doing. By arming them with real-time data about what’s improving within their team and what might be going off the rails, you empower them to succeed against the goals set at a company-wide level.
5. Craft and sustain an attractive company culture in a hybrid context?
A paradox has been introduced that every organisation will need to tackle in 2022: the need to provide employees the flexibility in how and where they work, while simultaneously building a strong community and culture.
Our HR experts know that fostering a strong sense of belonging is the key to solving this paradox. Each and every employee needs to be able to speak and to be heard, by their colleagues, their managers, and the senior leadership in their company. Having their voice respected is what cultivates this sense of belonging and trust that simultaneously enables flexibility and builds culture.
As Elin Hartelius reflects,
Our learning from last year was that communication is not about info — it’s about listening, being close to people, being empathetic and attentive leaders. This is a game-changer for companies who are ready to take that leap.
It’s up to HR to structure feedback channels to avoid bottlenecks or voices going unheard. Again, HR teams are increasingly looking to employee experience platforms to help them ensure that the doors to employee feedback always stand open.
To sum up, it’s a nuanced, exciting, and challenging time to be in HR. With 2020 at time of crisis, 2021 a time of new thinking, 2022 will be — we believe — a time of building. A time of building out the real-time feedback channels that keep HR constantly in the loop on how employees are really feeling. Of setting numerical targets and KPIs that demonstrate HR’s value to the business. Of expanding their role as a drivers of innovation and profitability.
Are you in HR? We here at Winningtemp are here to support as you go about building. Our platform provides the technological foundations underneath successful employee engagement strategies. Our Customer Success team will provide support and ideas at every turn. Book a demo with us and we’ll do some exploring together.
Do you supercharge the effectiveness of HR teams as a consultant or technology provider? Let's chat partnerships! Reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.