What should HR Leaders focus on 2021

As business operations are slowly restarting, some may be resetting, the future of work is getting more advanced and starting to be more remote. With these rapid changes, HR leaders are also getting out of the traditional viewpoint but now looking into a much deeper and more personal approach in handling their workforce. Here are four of the top priorities HR leaders should look into this year 2021:

Importance of Well-being 

In these trying times, HRs should be geared towards giving significance and taking action to improve employees’ well-being at work. Actions, strategies and policies should be relevant at three levels—individual, team and organizational. 

Under the individual level, workers should have set a standard and limit to their expectations at work. They can influence and design well-being by engaging in the development of flexible and adaptive strategies and activities that align individual interests with those of the organisation and the team. 

The strength of the teams emerges from their ability to connect employees to each other to unlock their potential. Tapping into these skills involves team members to understand and acknowledge the well-being needs of each person in order to create a safe environment in which the team can function at its best. 

Leaders in the organization have a duty not only to engage in and encourage well-being, but also to dedicate themselves to it by designing well-being at work and making well-being as important as any other aspect that impacts the bottom line.

Employee experience

The shift to the new normal brought sudden changes to the way businesses operate, this also caused employees to feel stressed and somewhat resistant to these changes. So, in order to face this distraught, HR leaders should address three main points in their organization:

Organizational trust: To what extent do employees believe we really value people and ensure their well-being? 

Commitment to coworkers: How are employees collaborating with and learning from team members? 

The right capabilities: Are we providing sufficient training and workshops to gain skills, resources and knowledge in order for them to be successful in the long run? 

Organizational design and change management

Recent Gartner research shows that a successful change management system does not come from initiatives of senior managers implementing to employees but it is through the employees initiative and suggestions that makes effective changes on the system and policies. This is called an open-source method which increases the chance of change management success as much as 24% more. 

“In order to achieve an open-source change culture, HR needs to help managers and leaders create two-way dialogs that recognize the reality that change is difficult and then listen to employees’ reactions,” says Mark Whittle, Vice President, Advisory, Gartner.

Through implementation of an open source change management, positive changes will surely follow in areas such as employee retention, costing and employee morale. 

Critical skills and competency development

Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, surveys 113 learning and growth experts recently, 71% said that more than 40% of their employees required new skills due to changes in the work carried out by COVID-19.

With this data at hand, HR leaders should first identify the scope where changes occur in their organization due to the unexpected causes like a pandemic. Next thing HR should do is to break down the projects’ and roles that need support. This is where the learning and development team will be taking the lead, the L&D should be able to upskill and provide learning support to the employees by providing workshops and training materials for the critical skills and competency needed for a newer upgraded version of their roles in the organization. 

Last year, we witnessed the level of adaptability in the workforce. Unprecedented events and difficulties have exposed the ability of employees and teams to face new, evolving and drastic market and operational challenges. We have found that the workforce could adjust more substantially than anyone would have expected in the face of new challenges. Moving forward, it is in the hands of the management and HR leaders to create an opportunity to change work priorities, create upskilling programs and acknowledge employees interest. It is the leaders that should develop and listen to the programs needed for workforce development and reinvention.

About the author

Jowena Borral is an HR Generalist with more than 5 years of experience working with local and international companies. A business specialist with a knack for creative visualization, team engagement and human interaction.

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