The norms and expectations for what a workplace looks and feels like are changing, and the role of HR professionals needs to evolve to change with it.
AI technology, the shift to remote work, and increasingly diverse and inclusive teams have all created major shifts in the modern workforce. The onus is on HR professionals to create policies that support the success and well-being of their teams to account for a continuously-evolving workforce.
This kind of change can be disruptive, but it can also be exciting and present unique opportunities. This post will make some predictions for how HR best practices will have to change and adapt to meet the needs of a continuously-evolving workplace.
1. Invest in Skill-Building and Employee Development
The creation of new technologies like AI will create new needs in the workforce. The adoption of those technologies, in turn, will create new sets of skills – and even entire industries and fields – to meet them.
You can’t predict what those new skills and careers will be, but as an HR professional, you can create a culture of learning so that your team can upskill, adapt to the future, and remain relevant in the modern workforce.
HR professionals can create new opportunities for employees to develop their skills through training programs, conferences, workshops, and mentorship programs. They can encourage employees to pursue continuous learning by investing in e-learning platforms like Coursera and LinkedIn Academy.
As needs and technologies change, HR professionals should identify skill gaps in their organization and create training programs and development pathways to address those gaps.
2. Offer Flexible Working Options
If COVID has taught us anything, it’s that not everyone does their best work from within a traditional 9-to-5 working schedule. While it works for some people, not everyone is wired that way.
Many businesses shifted to remote work out of necessity to comply with social distancing measures. While not suitable, desirable, or realistic for all business models, many people prefer to work from home, or even thrive from it.
You can embrace the future of remote work as an HR professional by offering flexible work arrangements like fully-remote or hybrid options. Keep workloads and deadlines flexible to adjust to employees’ schedules and needs so they can do their best work when they’re most motivated, creative, and engaged.
3. Embrace AI Tools to Automate Your Processes
The way people communicate changes drastically every 5 years or so. In much of the same way social media and the rise of the internet replaced the need for print media, so too will AI tools automate many routine tasks that could previously only be done by a human.
Those that embrace AI technology will quickly eclipse those that bury their head in the sand in the modern workforce. Use them to your advantage to find the best talent and get them to stick around.
Some ways HR professionals can use AI include:
- Recruitment and Selection: AI can be used to screen and identify the most qualified job candidates and make more objective hiring decisions
- Performance Management: Track employee performance and give real-time feedback, develop target interventions that address employee needs, and improve employee retention
4. Offer Employee Wellness Resources
A modern workplace mired by toxic “hustle culture,” a lack of work boundaries, and a lack of opportunities for growth have led employees to mentally check out and do the bare minimum in a trend known as “quiet quitting.”
You can find a better alternative by creating a space where employees are recognized for going above and beyond the call of duty. HR professionals can implement initiatives to prevent employee burnout like:
- Mental health resources: Offer access to counseling support and mental health hotlines so your employees have a resource when they need someone to talk to
- Promoting work-life balance: Providing flexible work arrangements like working-from-home, and encouraging employees to take time off to recharge and replenish themselves
- Provide Stress Management Resources: Help employees maintain their mental health with initiatives like mindfulness training and stress reduction workshops
5. Create an Inclusive and Diverse Team
You’re in a unique position as an HR professional to create a diverse and inclusive team that draws on the range of the human experience and helps all your employees feel seen and valued, regardless of their ethnicity, background, or orientation.
For one thing, HR professionals can review their existing policies and identify any that may be potentially exclusionary. They can also promote unconscious bias training to make your hiring managers aware of harmful unconscious biases and make their hiring process more inclusive.
6. Foster a Culture of Transparency and Communication
The shift to remote work has made communication more important than ever. As teams have become more reliant on tools like Slack to communicate with each other about projects, HR professionals should implement these new communications technologies to account for the missing face-to-face interactions you get in an office setting.
Set guidelines for communication, such as preferred channels of communication and how soon employees should respond to emails and Slack messages. Remember that communication is a two-way street, so you should also show transparency in your decision-making, and share information about the rationale behind business decisions.
7. Use Data-Driven Decision Making
As the modern workforce evolves, numbers are your friend. HR best practices will become more reliant on data and analytics to inform their decision-making for their employee engagement and hiring processes.
HR professionals can use analytics data to objectively measure employees’ engagement and satisfaction, and find areas in which they may be struggling so they can step in to help them.
Data-driven HR processes can also help source and retain the best talent. Using data-driven decision-making can help you identify the most effective recruitment channels and optimize them, study candidate profiles, and keep track of your recruitment metrics to make your talent acquisition process smoother and more effective.
Embrace the Future of the Evolving Workforce
To thrive in this new era and set your team up for success, HR professionals should embrace AI technology to improve their processes, prioritize employee mental health and wellbeing, invest in their skill training and development, and make their hiring processes more diverse and inclusive. That way, HR professionals can build a better workplace – and a better world – for everyone.
About Tania Galindo
Tania Galindo is the VP of Sales at DOCUdavit, a document scanning and storage service based in Toronto, Canada.