2020 – where to begin? It’s been one heck of a year, and I think it’s safe to say one that we are all looking forward to seeing the back of. That big COVID shaped elephant in the room has caused many headaches over the last 12 months, especially where Human Resources are concerned. 

Businesses leaders and HR professionals have faced an abundance of challenges this year, from having to make tough staffing decisions and furlough schemes to working from home and navigating remote communication, it’s certainly not been an easy road.  

Many of these challenges have shaped the HR trends that we have seen this year. 

Remote Working 

Every business in the UK has been impacted in some way throughout COVID-19. It has forced many employers to rapidly adapt to new, flexible ways of working. Many employees who have had a taste of working remotely have found that it has transformed their lives for the better. It has allowed us to look at how we can work more efficiently and effectively. But also appreciate our work-life balance. 

There has been a tremendous increase in employees working from home due to COVID-19, and many employers are starting to recognise the time and money that can be saved by keeping remote working an option as businesses begin to get back to a sense of normality.  

Remote working allows for more workday flexibility as it throws the typical 9-to-5 working day out the window, causing employees to be more productive during the hours that work best for them – especially when they’re not worried about travelling to and from work.

Working from home also allows for companies to naturally expand their talent pool by hiring candidates on a remote basis. The virtual elements of technology that go hand in hand with remote working offer employers the luxury of hiring top talent that otherwise might not be attainable due to commuting issues.   

Virtual Team Building 

With remote working becoming somewhat of the norm, it’s been difficult for employees to effectively bond – especially if, like us, you have hired new staff members throughout the pandemic, and they haven’t had a chance to get acquainted with their colleagues in person.  

The relationships staff have with their co-workers are an important component to any efficient working team. However, employers are starting to come up with creative ways for employees to work on their team-building skills – even if that means doing so virtually.

If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that regular human interaction is a key factor in creating a positive working environment – whether that be a simple group chat away from the work talk or regular online gaming session (may I recommend D&D? One of our developers set up a weekly session for us and it was just so fun and made lockdown much more bearable on a Friday night!)  

Focus on Employee Experience 

In recent years, shifting more focus on employee experience has been an increasing trend for successful businesses. From recruitment and onboarding right up until the time an employee leaves the company, employers are concentrating on how to continually improve the employee experience, including their level of engagement within the company.

To give employee’s the workplace experience they want, leaders need to put themselves in the shoes of their employees to gain a better understanding of their experiences, to learn from them and implement any necessary changes.

For a great employee experience, companies should consider things like: 

  • Improving internal communications where it’s needed 
  • Investing in a better onboarding experience 
  • Conducting exit interviews 
  • Offering training and development opportunities 
  • Acting on employee feedback 
  • Investing in employee health and wellness 

Policies, Processes and Procedures 

If we’ve learned anything from the upheaval of 2020, it’s that having solid policies, processes and procedures in place, and readily available to all employees is so important.  

Having the three Ps in place: 

  • Determines the most efficient way to complete a task.  
  • Provides your employees with guidance. 
  • Helps to ensure quality control on your compliance, products and services.  
  • Streamlines workflows. 

Artificial Intelligence 

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t exactly a new trend, yet an increasing number of companies are beginning to embrace and rely on AI to streamline and simplify their business processes – especially in the current climate! 

As a resultbusinesses are also seeing significant and measurable improvement in the candidate and employee experience by making data-driven decisions as a result of people and workplace analytics, creating a more holistic HR approach.

AI can help HR professionals to do many things, including: 

  • Automate tasks and processes.   
  • Analyse and manage employee productivity and performance. 
  • Recognise issues and behaviours related to employee turnover. 
  • Customise training and development for individual employees. 
  • Notice irregularities that could indicate workplace misconduct. 

Recruitment Marketing 

Rather than aiming to attract customers, like traditional marketing practicesrecruitment marketing is used to proactively attract candidates on an ongoing basis, and businesses are starting to understand the value of effectively marketing themselves so that they can attract the right people from the get-go.
Making the right hires requires an in-depth look at what your company stands for and what it hopes to represent to potential employees. To this end, HR departments are now thinking strategically about their employer brand, and they’re using recruitment marketing to acquire their best talent.