It’s hard to believe that we’re just about halfway through 2020, especially when internet memes would lead us to believe that March had 200 days and April really dragged on with a whopping 4,000 days! Add to that, this has been a year that is unprecedented to say the least, with even the doomsday preppers admitting that they were not quite prepped for this one!
But alas, as time marches on, so does the work of HR, and while things are far from status quo, trends have still emerged in terms of the focus for HR professionals. Below, we outline just a few of the key trends and what you can do to make sure you are keeping up!
Flexible work arrangements:
Even before the pandemic hit, HR folks were very much focused on flexible work arrangements to help employees achieve the often-elusive work-life balance. With the pandemic in full swing and more people than ever before required to try their hand at remote working, HR has had to do their best to not only make sure the technology to work from home is in place, but also to make sure that they can provide the support necessary to help folks who are computer novices to master everything from working on a VPN to navigating a Zoom conference call. With things subsiding (for now), many HR pros are now working with upper management to reevaluate which workers can and should continue to work from home, as well as how the physical space in the office may need to be reconfigured for workers who are in only a handful of times a week, or even a month. We anticipate that HR pros will next tackle office downsizing plans as more companies realize that work from home set-ups are here to stay and that they no longer need an expansive cubicle farm in order for their businesses to run smoothly.
Improving the job applicant system:
One of the most obvious functions of your HR professional is to identify, hire, and onboard your new employees. Heading into 2020, HR pros had identified improving the applicant experience so that the process would run much more smoothly, and this feels especially pertinent now with so many people expected to begin looking for employment after a series of post-COVID layoffs. Specifically, those in the know have anticipated that companies will be investing more in systems that can collect and then automatically analyze resumes, passing along only the most relevant to the folks in HR to take a second look. Under this model, which scans resumes for keywords identified by the company as being important for the job, HR reps can go from having to sift through hundreds of resumes to a dozen or so, which can significantly streamline the process for both HR and the candidates. Speaking of the applicant experience, another hot topic was that of systems and processes that automate the job candidate communication process, so that declines or notices that they are being moved forward to the next stage in the process are all sent out automatically, taking the administrative burden off the HR professional and allowing them to spend more time interviewing the applicants who really stand out.
Increased investment in upskilling:
If you’ve read here over the past few months, you might have noticed a number of blog posts about the power of upskilling your employees, whereby you support them, either financially or simply from a professional standpoint, to pursue additional training, education, and certifications. We at Abel HR believe in the power of upskilling to both enhance the performance of your workforce and as a tool for motivation and engagement, all of which is backed up by numerous studies. While upskilling efforts may have been put on hold for the last few months, now is the time to really think about what skills your employees will need to work effectively on in this new environment, such as learning new software that allows them to work remotely or getting to grips with an all online platform for communicating with clients and customers. Looking more broadly, however, managers should be thinking about what additional skills could most benefit their workers and HR should be thinking strategically about what programs and platforms would work best to accomplish these goals.
Making learning more accessible:
Following on from the upskilling trend, 2020 is also the year where HR set their sights on making company-sponsored education and learning modules more accessible to their employees. Essentially, HR has been struggling for years with how to not only customize the learning experience but make it easier for employees to actually get it done! Companies on the cutting edge are seeking to build learning into the everyday workflow so that it automates the process. For example, an employee may open up an excel spreadsheet for a particular project and may receive an automatic prompt that shares with them either some broad learning opportunities, or some preferred, tailored hacks that you as a company use to make the most of your excel workflow. Other ideas to make learning more accessible is to transform them into shorter classes and to transform them from dull (sorry!) in person meetings and instead leverage interactive online learning modules that can be done anywhere, at any time.
Even before the health system became overwhelmed and doctor’s started Zoom-ing up the wazoo, HR was grappling with how to cut healthcare costs and exploring options for increased use of telemedicine. Now that we’ve all virtually been forced to use it in some capacity (no pun intended!), we expect to see a greater roll out of telehealth programming options for workers. Specifically, folks in the know suggest that HR pros will focus their efforts on improving the management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes and hypertension could eventually transition to include specialty services such as dermatology. Those in the know suggest that engagement will reach an all-time high now that people are more comfortable with how these types of visits take place and will.
A recent study suggests that consumers are more likely to purchase goods and services from a “purpose driven company,” meaning a company that has a social responsibility arc or other charity inclination. Paired with the current political and social climate, marketers and HR pros, are starting to think about what causes they most want to align with and how they can weave it into the fabric of their company. Some companies, for example, are focusing on decreasing their carbon footprint and it will be the role of HR to think creatively on how to incentivize their employees to take steps to recycle and potentially reduce employee’s travel demands and commute more efficiently. Others, meanwhile, will look to how they can increase their cultural and racial diversity or otherwise promote equality in the workplace with revised policies on everything from hiring to pay scales.
What do you see trending in 2020? Any big projects planned? Let us know in the comments!