The business world has entered a perfect storm in which we simultaneously face many challenges and opportunities. Just consider a few of the various elements, for example: lightning-fast digital and technological developments such as robotization and AI, a stagnant economy, high inflation and interest rate increases, the climate and energy transition, demands to accelerate innovation, the changing expectations of employees, five generations all in the workplace at the same time (and for the first time), struggles with well-being, and scarcity and changes in labor market. These developments are rapid and hooking together. There is plenty of need for innovation and smarter organizations, and with it all comes a very important role for HR.
A 2023 McKinsey study shows the current and future organizational trends, including:
- Hybrid working the new normal: Four in five employees expect to continue working hybrid.
- Embracing AI: Technology helps with routine and data-driven tasks, changes how everyone works, and increases productivity.
- Retaining talent remains a huge challenge: Thirty-nine percent of working people, when surveyed, have plans to change jobs.
- Working toward stronger DE&I policies: Only 47% of companies are satisfied with their DE&I policies.
- Mental health & well-being: Employees who struggle with their mental health and well-being are four times more likely to leave organizations.
- Better human leaders: Only 25% of companies surveyed say they have leaders who are committed to inspiring, motivating, and retaining their people.
- The right people in the right roles: Talent needs to be in the right jobs. This is now only the case in 20-30%.
- Close the knowledge and skills gap: Ninety-five percent of companies report insufficient knowledge/skills to successfully execute the business strategy.
- Maximize efficiency: Forty percent of workers indicate that unclear roles and complex structures in the organization are responsible for a strong lack of efficiency.
- Speed and resilience: Accelerating innovations, sometimes even exponentially, calls for greater resilience.
In all these trends, HR leaders have a large and important role to play and can make a big difference, especially in the hybrid organization where strong connections and the social aspect are increasingly important. Moreover, research shows that the fastest-growing companies are those with significantly higher HR capabilities.
Successful HR leaders and professionals have a positive impact on the business, but unfortunately, not everyone sees it that way yet. HR is a relatively young profession. In the 1980s and 1990s, the field of Personnel Administration evolved into Human Resources, with more emphasis on strategic HR management and aligning HR practices with business goals. Until 30 years ago, just about anyone could work in HR and it was mostly about administrative tasks, optimizing business processes, providing some necessary vocational training and support for leaders.
Now the HR profession is not based on guesswork but on data, predictive analytics, and artificial intelligence. The emergence of new technologies, such as HR information systems, has also helped this transition into a more data-driven profession.
Meanwhile, the field is also beginning to mature through evidence-based practices based on scientific studies and evidence. This means that human resource management decisions are made based on objective, reliable, and quantitative data rather than on intuition or personal preference. However, implementing evidence-based HR practices requires a certain level of expertise and knowledge. Organizations must be able to interpret scientific studies and make the translation to their own situation. In addition, it is important to collect and analyze sufficient data to make informed decisions.
The current trends, as listed above, mean that the average HR professional is extremely busy – aren’t we all – and therefore might struggle to maintain their own development. This is a risk to them as individuals as well as to the company as a whole. Thus, it’s important for HR leaders to keep an eye on their own development and growth in much the same way they do for the employees of the company, to seize the opportunities ahead and create value.
A wide range of skills is essential for HR professionals to be successful in their job. Here are six that HR professionals should focus on:
- Leading innovation and transformation: In a rapidly changing work environment, it is crucial that HR professionals can come up with innovative solutions and lead change.
- Strategic thinking: As a strategic partner of the organization, HR professionals must be able to make the connection between HR initiatives and business objectives.
- Identify and apply evidence-based HR practices: It is important to stay abreast of the latest trends and developments in the field and apply this knowledge in daily practice.
- Using data, AI, and technologies to support HR operations: Using data, AI and technologies to help HR professionals make more informed decisions and work more efficiently.
- Critical thinking and problem solving: HR professionals are often faced with complex issues where critical thinking is essential to reach a good solution.
- Being familiar with and applying best practices in HR: By following best practices, HR professionals can ensure that proven successful practices are used.
HR is an indispensable asset to any organization and this is why it is so important to take HR to the next level – because a common characteristic of successful organizations is that they attract, develop, and retain talented people. When you give the right people the right tasks, they help you grow the organization. At the end of the day, an organization’s success lies with its people. HR plays a vital role in this.
It is very important for an organization to regularly ask employees for feedback on organizational culture and HR policies. Collecting this information can help improve working conditions and increase employee engagement and motivation. Furthermore, when employees feel heard, they are more likely to contribute positively to the organization and feel more engaged. This can lead to higher productivity, less absenteeism, and better retention rates. In addition, based on this feedback, any pain points can be identified and addressed with appropriate action.
This feedback is best collected on a regular basis, as this can help ensure that new problems are detected and addressed in a timely manner. This shows that the organization is open to suggestions and willing to make adjustments that will benefit its employees.
All in all, soliciting employee feedback on culture and HR policies is crucial for any organization striving to create a healthy workplace with engaged employees. It provides valuable insights that can create a positive company culture and improve HR policies.
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