The current state of the global workplace is a lot like a combination of Katherine Heigl and Bruce Willis - it’s complicated and intense, but it also has quite a few things going for it despite the fact that it’s pretty hard to deal with.
It also makes for good cinema (lots of drama, you know).
Suffice it to say, it’s been a year.
However, now that most of the initial help-the-world-is-coming-to-an-end-grab-all-the-TP-you-can-find shock has worn off to a certain extent, it’s time to regroup, dust ourselves off and put our noses to the grindstone in an effort to ensure that we adapt to the current state of the global workplace.
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So, which forces will be shaping workforce development and the responsibilities of the HR department throughout 2021 and beyond? Here are five human resources trends* that have emerged as a response to the immense pressures imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, as well as the personal lives of employees around the globe:
1. Placing employee well-being at the core of work design
Instead of supporting the physical and mental health of employees by means of programs adjacent to work as an organisational survival response, thriving companies will be integrating well-being initiatives into work by means of thoughtful work design. By implementing this approach at individual, team and organisational level, businesses can set the stage for sustainable workforce engagement.
For instance, Daimler AG no longer wants their employees to come back from leave only to discover an overflowing email inbox that adds undue pressure and stress. In fact, they stop emails from landing in inboxes that are supposed to be unattended in the first place.
Messages that are sent to employees on leave are automatically deleted, and the sender is alerted that they can either contact a person on a predetermined list of alternative contacts, or get in touch again once the employee in question is back in the office.
2. Finding new ways to reveal employee potential
Skills development is another area that is ripe for a major overhaul. Similarly, static job descriptions are ready to go the way of the dinosaur. Instead, innovative approaches to giving employees the choice to match their interests, capabilities and personal passions with current business needs and future project demands will be the way to go.
One way to do this would be to create platforms where employees are able to view available development experiences and opportunities to get involved with projects within the company. This way, they can choose their own corporate adventure when it comes to training, mentorship, networking, diversity and inclusion, and more.
3. Creating agile teams with AI in the mix
Artificial intelligence is ready to change the way we work, but in order for it to be really effective, it has to be seen as a member of the team rather than a mere tool. The uses of AI are legion - from simple tools that respond coherently to customer chat, to complex machine-learning systems that predict the trajectory of an entire organisation, there are countless applications of this type of tech.
The key lies in taking a broader view of the transformative potential of this type of tech in order to elevate the impact it can have on the way we work.
4. Laying the groundwork for the way ahead
COVID-19 may seem somewhat contained for the moment, but the truth of the matter is that this particular curveball was just one example of something that can derail business completely. As such, companies have to be ready to remain in operations in an uncertain world with fast-changing realities. This calls for smooth and efficient pivoting.
To be ready to adapt when called upon to do so, enterprises have to know their internal talent market inside out. This means understanding how many workers are providing direct and indirect services to the organisation, the scope of capabilities that are accessible within its broader ecosystem, as well as the state of engagement and potential attrition among its workers.
5. Re-engineering work as a concept
One thing is for sure - COVID-19 made the importance of HR practitioners resoundingly clear. Organisations understand now more than ever that the human resources department is an unmissable part of change navigation. A good way to go would be to take this moment in the spotlight to set the wheels in motion to pave the way for a more empowered workforce that yields better business results.
Ideally, this would start with the approach of facilitating 306 workforce development by focusing on human abilities such as analysis and synthesis, problem-solving, and social intelligence.
So in short, while the state of the global workplace may be up in the air, the reality is that it is always in a state of flux. The companies that will emerge stronger from the shake-up of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant economic impacts are those that face new challenges head-on and find innovative ways to adapt.
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*These trends were forecast by Deloitte, based on a survey of 3600 executives in 96 countries.