5 challenges HR will face in the next 10 years

We recently learned about The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), who conducted a survey titled ‘Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years’. The survey involved HR professionals randomly selected from the SHRM’s 250,000 membership database.The HR profession has come more and more under the spotlight recently, with huge challenges arising due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to remote working, it feels like now is HR’s moment to lead organisations in navigating the current situation and planning for the future. Here are some of the key obstacles we picked out that HR must overcome for a better workforce over the next decade.

  1. Retaining and rewarding the best employees
  2. Developing the next generation of corporate leaders
  3. Taking human resources online 
  4. Cultural diversity and gender equality 
  5. Wellbeing as a business strategy

1. Retaining and rewarding the best employees

A staggering 60% of those who responded to the Challenges Facing HR Over the Next 10 Years survey said retaining and rewarding the best employees would be the top challenge.

The way to achieve a promotion within organisations is changing. Experience, seniority and examinations will no longer be the basis of an appraisal and there will likely be a shift towards a faster and more flexible model. 

New appraisal models based on well-defined targets and continuous feedback will be key. Hundreds of companies (including Adobe, IBM and Deloitte) have successfully experimented with new ways to appraise and reward employee performance.

The move to remote working has massively disrupted the HR industry, in all sorts of ways, some of which are really positive such as speeding up recruitment by doing it virtually and reducing costs as a result. HR leaders are now starting to use more digital methods such as videos, online software and social networking to recruit and retain their staff. 

Development is the often-overlooked secret to retaining talent. Gallup found "opportunities to learn and grow" are one of the top three factors millennials consider when applying for a job. Offering coaching, training courses and other personal development courses will be essential to keeping your talented staff engaged and motivated.

2. Developing the next generation of corporate leaders

The previous SHRM survey in 2010 found HR executives were concerned with finding employees in global markets and breaking down cultural barriers to create a truly global company. Now, those answering the latest survey are more focused on developing the leaders of the future workforce and remaining competitive in the talent marketplace.

Times are changing and so too are the leaders of tomorrow. Adapting to the economic and social changes taking place will be key, and has become even more necessary in light of COVID-19. The challenge lies in finding younger and more diverse leaders who will be able to run businesses in the new digital way. 

While the ongoing journey to find new leadership should involve the entire company, human resources leaders also play a key role in steering their company in the right direction. 

As the saying goes, "Leaders are not born, they are made." So start investing time, effort and resources into developing the leaders in your business.

3. Taking human resources online

As the working world as a whole becomes digital, human resources departments must also follow suit. The department’s responsibility is to implement digital initiatives to the entire workplace and any new mobile applications, software and tools that help change the way the company works. 

HR is more than just payroll and benefits. Solutions need to be in place to support an employee at every step in their working life. From adopting an instant messaging platform to help colleagues stay in touch, to creating a place where they can safely report incidents of unacceptable behaviour in the workplace; the digital world is making these innovations more accessible than ever. 

The key to making improvements is having the knowledge to do so. To learn more about your culture and identify patterns of behaviour, HR professionals can work with a dedicated platform that delivers real-time reporting in a customisable dashboard. Taking HR online in this way doesn’t remove the ‘people’ element from the equation entirely, it just gives individuals choices about who to and where they would like to disclose any issues. 

Online solutions like ours give you at a glance metrics, which means you have a deeper understanding of what’s happening throughout your organisation, making it easier to implement positive changes.

4. Cultural diversity and gender equality

As organisations strive to be increasingly global, digital and transparent, the issue of lacking workplace diversity and inclusion will become all the more apparent. Employees are placing even more importance on the way their employer tackles these issues, and going forward this will be a huge challenge HR will need to address if they want to keep attracting and retaining brilliant people.

More must be done to foster diversity and inclusion among employees, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s business critical too.

The annual Women in the Workplace study advises companies to make significant investments in building a more flexible and empathetic workplace. The aim is to nurture a culture in which everyone will have an equal opportunity to achieve their potential over the long term, which sounds like a no-brainer to us! 

There’s marketing-leading software that can facilitate anonymous recruiting, helping to remove implicit bias and assess candidates equally. Investing in these platforms, alongside new policies that protect your diverse workforce once they’re in place, can help ensure a more inclusive and diverse workforce of the future.

5. Wellbeing as a business strategy

For HR professionals, one challenge that isn’t going away is to continue building stronger focus and a more holistic view of employee wellbeing and mental health. It isn't enough to offer a couple of office perks such as team lunches and bean bags and call it ‘wellbeing’. Your strategy needs to be something that encompasses the emotional and mental health of workers along with the physical. It’s also important as part of wellbeing to give your team somewhere they can confidently raise mental health concerns.

Even before the pandemic, Gallup reported two-thirds of full-time workers experienced burnout on the job. This can’t go on, and just highlights the need for HR professionals to remain focused on wellbeing. 

As organisations settle into the ‘new normal’, we should determine how effectively we all are at addressing employees’ biggest challenges. HR teams who can demonstrate progress against these obstacles are likely to be in a better position to attract new recruits and maintain the company culture than those without a plan embedded in the business.

These five challenges are just the ones organisations feel they can predict at this stage. But go back 12 months and we would never have anticipated that challenges due to remote working would feature so highly. It just goes to show that the issues facing HR professionals are ever changing and business leaders need to constantly evolve to maintain the happiness of their team.

One thing you can do is define your workplace culture, and take steps to actively improve it, so that colleagues feel safe, happy and supported whether they’re in the office or at home.

Start improving your company culture today

As the next 10 years unfold, maintaining or cultivating the right workplace culture will continue to be a challenge for HR leaders.

Take our free workplace culture audit, to gain some insight into the pros and cons of your current company culture, and advice on how you can improve it to create a culture you're proud of.

Take our culture audit here

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