There’s no doubt that things are a little challenging for HR departments right now. Employee expectations are vastly different than they were a few years ago, and with flexible and remote working now being offered by most companies, human resources are having to work even harder to ensure correct policies and procedures are being followed, that new starters have a smooth onboarding experience, and that staff feel supported and taken care of despite potentially being out of the office for most of the working week.
Here we look at some of the biggest challenges facing HR departments at the moment, and how companies are dealing with them.
1. Staff Retention During ‘The Great Resignation’
Access to employee benefits, a good onboarding experience, a connection with the company culture, and an exciting work environment are all things that contribute to retaining your talent, and of course to attracting new team members. They are all also things that are far easier to oversee when everyone is working under the same roof. Staff want flexibility, but they also want to be part of something that excites them and ensuring that team members are connected to their company and feel seen, heard, and valued whilst working remotely is a big challenge facing HR teams right now. HR teams are combatting this in a number of ways including creating online communities and chats for company members, organising online social events, and ensuring company-wide meetings are still regularly taking place remotely.
2. Ensuring a Healthy Remote Working Environment
“In addition to a competitive salary and positive working experience, employees also want a high level of workplace safety, sustainable average stress levels and interpersonal emotional maturity,” says Forbes. Staff need a motivational and exciting environment in order to be their most productive, and a company that supports good health and wellness combined with a positive/non-toxic work environment is a company that sees continued growth and profitability.
3. Onboarding new talent remotely
Employees who have a bad onboarding experience are twice as likely to look for a new job, and 69% of employees are more likely to stay at a company for more than 3 years if they have a positive onboarding experience. Good onboarding can be hard to achieve, especially for a company that has moved to remote working, but it is crucial to retaining new staff.
An ideal onboarding period is 3 months and should include meeting the team, getting familiar with software and processes, developing skills, ongoing learning, goal setting, and regular one-to-one meetings with a manager (which should ideally continue indefinitely). For HR, the difficulty now stems from trying to manage all of this remotely, so communication, and face-to-face meetings where possible, are key to successfully onboarding new team members.
4. Keeping a remote team engaged
Companies with engaged employees are a whopping 22% more profitable. “Without employees that possess a clear vision for their work and feel that they are part of something bigger, UK businesses lose up to £70 billion every year due to lack of engagement,” says Clear Review. Engaging a team that are not physically in the same space is a big task. According to Forbes, 5 ways to engage a remote team include ditching micromanagement, showing transparency, digitizing rewards and recognition programmes, prioritising wellness, and having more communication.
5. Ensuring policies and procedures are being followed
A key part of HR’s job is to make sure policies and procedures are understood and followed. Again, a much more difficult task when managing a workforce remotely. Effective and engaging communication is a good way of reminding staff of company and legal policies, and making employees aware of a ‘virtual open-door policy’ to discuss any concerns with HR will help ensure everyone is playing by the rules and has somewhere to turn if and when they need it.
6. Maintaining good mental health across the company
Support with mental health is becoming more and more important to employees. As a society, we’re more comfortable discussing mental health than ever before and we’ve realised that good mental health is just as important as good physical health. Including mental health support as a company benefit, and letting team members know they have a safe space to discuss any mental health issues they may be facing, is invaluable, and helps your employees feel they are genuinely cared about, and how important their overall wellness is to the company. Making regular wellness “check-in” appointments with staff is an easy way to stay connected with the team, and to show them the company is listening.
7. Making sure hybrid working is producing results
“Two-thirds of employers report increased productivity for remote workers compared to in-office workers,” says a report on finder.com. The same report reveals “65% of workers say they are more productive in a home office than a normal office, 75% of workers say they are more productive working remotely due to reduced distractions, and 83% of employees feel they do not need an office to be productive.” So, the data strongly suggests that those who work from home are more productive than their office-based peers, however, it’s a setup that may not suit everyone, and either way, it’s a skill that needs to be learned and practiced.
We are most comfortable when we’re at home, and without a commute or journey to work to get us ready for the day, it can be difficult switching from “home mode” to “work mode”. Business tools are a huge help in monitoring productivity and time management when most of the team are remote, but remember, too many tools can be detrimental to productivity so be sure to choose the ones that are most appropriate to your workforce needs and will provide the most value to your business.
With the workplace looking a lot different than it used to, HR teams across the globe are facing some pretty big changes right now. We’ve all had to learn to innovate, adapt, and overcome in recent times and HR is no exception. With the help of project management software, great online learning platforms, business tools, and video calling, we can all stay well connected and continue to grow and succeed, even whilst navigating this new terrain.