The Changing Face of HR

HR has been through many changes over the years, but I do believe it is currently experiencing a seismic shift. In part this is due to covid and Brexit, but in part it is also due to changes in Politics, Economics, Society, Technology, Legal and Environmental (PESTLE) factors.

I was using the chart above in webinars throughout 2020 and 2021 and it has made me think about the role people managers (whether they are HR professionals or not) need to be playing in their businesses.

In writing my book, I also realised that there are so many reasons why employers don’t have the necessary conversations with staff and the main reason is because they feel like they have the threat of legal action constantly hanging over them. Say the wrong thing, and the employee raises a grievance, and you end up either paying them off or defending yourself in an employment tribunal.

The system is broken and until such time as the politicians take a bravery pill and start enabling managers to have grown up conversations with their staff, without the threat of an employment tribunal, employers are going to keep managing their staff like children, covering their backsides and writing policies for every eventuality.

Employees want to be treated like adults, after all they are adults and are not adolescents all fighting against the system. Employees want to feel valued, supported and appreciated. It isn’t all about the money, but the environment in which people are working. This may include the hours, holiday policies, work location and flexibility. Employees are demanding more from their employers than ever before and if employers want to attract and retain the top talent, they need to find a way to balance the needs to the employee with those of the customer and the business.

There are currently thousands of job vacancies across the country, there is an increasing number of people working part time jobs and the economy has taken a massive hit over the last two years. While the economic forecast is generally good, we are going to see a period of uncertainty, with rising costs of living and the need for higher salaries. This puts companies under significant financial pressure. However, some large companies such as Sainsbury’s are now committing to higher wages to help them fill their vacancies.

Society is more aware, conscious and vocal than ever before. While many brush it off as political correctness gone mad, there is the need to embrace the changes taking place around us. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are going to be massive topics in the next few years. Some of this has come about through movements such as #metoo and #blacklivesmatter, but some of it is also emerging through increasing awareness of the impact of issues such as domestic abuse, menopause, mental health and elder care. For employers to be able to successfully grow their businesses, they need people to be present, engaged and working; but at the same time, they need to recognise that every single employee will have an issue that they are dealing with and ensuring that the business is able to support all staff whatever they are going through is going to be an essential skill and where much of the leadership and management focus needs to be in the next five years.

Technology has made life so much easier, but also harder. People are now able to work from anywhere in the world and they do. Off shoring some jobs is very popular, employees may visit family overseas for three months and continue to work from there or employees may choose to work from home. In addition, some companies have shut their offices or downsized, forcing employees to work from home. Technology continues to advance and how employers and employees embrace it is continually evolving. It is essential you ensure that everyone is on that journey and no one is left behind….. and that includes your business. If you aren’t doing it, you can bet your competitors are.

Employment law is continually changing, either with new legislation, new guidance or as a result of case law. Making sure you are aware of the changes and properly think about how they will affect your business is vital if you are not going to fall foul of the law. On page xx we have provided a summary of legislation we know is in the pipeline – not all of it has a date yet!

Environmental issues are having an increasing impact on the way in which businesses carry out their day to day operations. Whether it is in your product, your packaging, your location for transport links, your company values or your sustainability policy, potential customers will make purchasing decisions based on your credentials and employees will also judge your for what you do, as well as for what you say in relation to the environment. Do your policies and procedures enable you to boast about your carbon footprint or how much you are giving back to the environment through tree planting or how much your staff are able to cut down on wastage? Although a very emotional topic, it is one which will have an increasing impact on all businesses.

The management of people is changing, you need to plan for that change and ensure that your business has all the right tools in place to attract, recruit, develop and retain the best possible talent.