Industry Outlook: My thoughts on the Future of HR
Future of HR is Based on Current Trends
As with any industry, the human resources (HR) industry has seen a variety of trends come and go over time. However, certain trends tend to stick or reemerge. Four trends that we believe will continue to shape HR include placing an emphasis on company culture, cultivating workplace efficiency, managing talent and understanding and dealing with generational differences. By developing an HR strategy that takes these four areas into consideration, companies can more effectively manage their employees now and into the future.
Emphasizing Company Culture
We’re seeing an increased need for organizations to not only define what their workplace culture is, but also show what is being done to support it. Managers and senior-level employees should lead by example and practice the culture they preach. For instance, when it comes to work-life balance, many organizations claim their workplace embraces an equal balance. However, this balance might not be practiced or even encouraged and is instead just claimed because it sounds good. Some employees may want to work nine to five and unplug once they get home. Others may be fine with constantly being connected and working from home. Managers need to be upfront about what type of employee they expect to join the organization and the type of work-life balance that should be practiced. Company culture is also an important consideration for organizations going through a merger. The cultural fit between the two organizations coming together can determine how successful the company merger will be. A clearly defined culture for the new combined organization can be the first step to a smooth transition.
Cultivating Workplace Efficiency
With the economy still struggling in many areas, organizations and senior leaders need to help individuals work smarter – not just harder. Many organizations are downsizing and finding that they need to do more with less staff and less support. Because of this, managers should encourage a more efficient approach to how time is being spent in the office. Team meetings should veer away from being one big data dump and instead follow a more streamlined and specific agenda. Managers should remember to ask themselves how they can be more proactive and make these meetings more productive.
While employee retention is vital to the success of any company, it’s also important to manage talent for the entire employee lifecycle. We’re currently seeing a multitude of individuals hop around from job to job because after accepting a position they find an organization or a role isn’t a good fit. From day one, job descriptions should be clear and concise so potential employees know exactly what is expected of them. Managers should know what they are working towards as a team and work with each individual to determine if they are a good fit. If it doesn’t seem like an individual is a good fit, managers then need to work with the employee to determine what can be done to make it work or if it’s time to move on. To ensure everyone is on the same page, schedule regular discussions focused on an employee’s performance as opposed to only meeting maybe once or twice a year. Share a metric system or scale with employees to show where they currently stand in regards to their development and what can be done to help them improve.
Many managers also find they have a hard time being objective with their feedback. This often results in a team of people that are just okay and have potential, but don’t have a manager to give them the push they need to be great. Managers need to remember to be constructive and supportive with feedback and to not let emotions or personal feelings get in the way.
Generational differences always have and always will affect the workplace. Currently, four different generations exist in the workforce: Seniors, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, or better known as Millennials. This makes for a potentially challenging and difficult work environment. Individuals from different generations might not understand each other and find they have a hard time adapting to each other’s management style. Organizations find it difficult to define their workplace culture, and keep it consistent, while trying to address the needs of these four different generations. At the same time, individuals from each generation don’t always have realistic expectations of companies they work for. These individuals need to clearly define and express their expectations and acknowledge early on that these expectations might not become a reality. And organizations need to be cognizant of the fact that each generation likes to be managed differently and remain flexible to different approaches.
As the Seniors and Baby Boomers phase out into retirement over the next several years, tensions should lessen around the workplace. But with Generation Z entering the workforce, new potential issues between the generations may arise and organizations will have to once again determine how to address these challenges.
Organizations will need to foster and encourage a more engaged, efficient and realistic workforce if they want to be successful. By being aware of potential challenges with workplace culture, efficiency, talent management and generational differences, organizations can set their employees up for success and maintain a driven workplace.