A lot of things have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the way we work and hire. Thousands have switched jobs, and remote workng has been normalized in the past few months. Consequently, the way people communicate and collaborate has also changed. Most companies are looking for individuals that are conversant with emerging technologies in addition to the core skills required for various roles. Employee expectations have also changed.
McKinsey found the flexibility that comes with remote working has increased engagement and well-being levels among US-based employees. This means HR departments will need clarity on the pandemic’s impact on workforce motivation and engagement to redefine organizations’ employee experience.
If you are an HR professional, here are five trends you must watch out for in 2021:
In the past, some companies allowed their employees to work remotely for a few days every month to improve their work-life balance. However, remote working has emerged as a norm during the pandemic. Yet, it remains a debatable issue for most organizations - in terms of employee productivity and focus.
In a survey by the World Economic Forum, 98% of respondents said that they would like the option of working remotely for the rest of their careers. A flexible schedule, the ability to work from anywhere, and freedom from the hassle of commuting daily were reported as the top benefits. On the flip side, some challenges to remote working were also identified by the respondents. The list was topped by the inability to define a cut-off time between work and personal life.
Lack of in-office contact, distractions at home, and poor connectivity were also cited as challenges. For HR, this is a confusing mix. There are employees on the one hand who prefer working from home but may face productivity issues. On the other hand, there are managers struggling to improve employee engagement and productivity. Balancing the expectations of both could be challenging, but collaborative technology can make things easier.
For example, considering that people can no longer communicate in person when working from home, developing an internal knowledge base for all your company resources is a good idea. You may also give employees the flexibility of adding their insights to this database on a continual basis to create a cohesive and collaborative work environment.
It is only a matter of time before Generation Z joins the workforce, increasing the percentage of younger employees over a period of time. This is a good thing because Gen Z is more likely to seek out self-development schemes to fit the evolving needs of the organizations they work with. However, they do have different expectations than the older generations, including a preference for flexible schedules and remote working options. They also value regular feedback from their supervisors, stressing the need for deeper collaboration between employees and employers at all levels.
HR personnel must learn about this generation’s working styles and career values to build corporate policies to keep them engaged. With flexible working and remote technology for collaboration already the norm, Gen Z workers can bring in a lot of value to their roles if engaged well with tools that match their working style.
Artificial Intelligence or AI is dramatically transforming HR practices with new-age technologies. For example, AI algorithms can be employed to automate repetitive tasks and draw strategic, data-based insights, leaving your HR with more time to focus on high-impact tasks. AI-driven tools can also offer employees customized learning paths and performance-driven progression schemes that will keep them motivated.
For instance, a streamlined and automated coding test is an effective way to screen developers for on-the-job skills rather than gauging their abilities with tricky algorithmic questions.
Similarly, one of the most uncomplicated use cases for AI in HR is employing chatbots for recruitment. It often gets difficult for HR to sieve through thousands of applications and respond to each one of them. A chatbot can automate most top-of-the-funnel activities in the recruitment process, reducing the time and cost of hiring considerably.
Here are the top benefits of chatbots in recruitment:
Cloud-based HR software will be on the rise to manage the large majority of remotely working employees. Cloud-based HR allows HR personnel to access employee data in real-time. This enables better decision-making. Besides, such software gives employees better control over their data, leading to increased engagement and higher productivity.
Yearly appraisals will soon be out of the window. Rather, upcoming work models would be about ongoing performance management. This would include regular feedback sessions, automated performance evaluations, AI-integration for personalized learning paths, etc. The aim would be to keep employees engaged in real-time by giving them constant feedback about their performance while learning about their expectations and striving to meet them simultaneously. The latter also entails an increased focus on ongoing wellness activities for employees. This could include more frequent breaks, wearable tech to monitor employees’ physical and mental wellness, introducing meditation sessions, etc.
To conclude, we’d like to reiterate that the world has changed rapidly over the past few months. The emerging conditions are going to affect even more changes, some of which may be temporary and others long-lasting. In such a scenario, it is pertinent to adopt HR tech that is agile enough to match the ongoing changes.
Whether it is flexible work models or remote hiring and performance management, HR needs to understand employee behavior and expectations and balance them with organizational goals by adopting the latest tools to navigate the new conditions.
Cover Image - Business vector created by katemangosta.