The field of human resources management is an ever-changing one. Professionals in the industry can never stand still because – to put it simply – the workplace never stays the same for long. As such, 2022 and the near future thereafter is going to present some significant new challenges for every organisation that relies on HR managers. What are the key trends to look out for? Read on to find out.

The Legacy of the Pandemic

No one who has worked in HR in recent years will have failed to have heard about the ‘new normal’ that has affected so many workplaces. Of course, this new normal that has followed the pandemic looks very different depending on which sector you happen to be talking about. Nevertheless, the overarching thing to say about the new modes of working that were introduced in such a widespread way during national lockdowns around the world is that they’ve accelerated changes that were already happening anyway. In HR terms, this is not all about allowing people to work from home – although that is a big part of the mix, of course.

The challenge that HR professionals now face is that so many workers don’t just expect the flexibility to work from home but they also want the freedom to come into the office when they feel like it. This can cause a significant problem for businesses with limited desk space and meeting rooms, of course. There again, there is the issue of flexible hours to contend with. Most workers now expect to be able to shift their hours around to suit their lifestyle and companies that don’t offer this sort of adaptability in the post-pandemic world will suffer a recruitment and retention problem.

Greater Emphasis on Diversity and Inclusion

Although numerous organisations say they’re committed to greater diversity and inclusion in the workplace, many see it as a journey they are on. However, slow-paced adoption of a diversity agenda or a failure to be genuinely inclusive will take its toll on employee morale. The bottom line is that diversity and inclusion cannot be window dressing or workers see through it. Therefore, understanding your workforce better is one of the most important things you can do to address what diversity and inclusion mean to them.

According to WorkBuzz, an online employee engagement platform that helps to measure employee engagement in numerous ways, organisations that ask about diversity and inclusion across the board simply tend to perform better. In other words, when the subject is brought up and people can respond anonymously, they’ll say what they really think. This is an important challenge to overcome because more diverse organisations tend to outperform their rivals in a range of HR metrics.

Performance Management Challenges

Understanding how employees are performing has always been something of a challenge in HR and it is likely that it always will be. Why? Because so much of how an employee is performing comes down to qualitative judgements, not quantitative ones. In other words, senior executives are reliant on HR managers gathering information that is based on what middle managers think or feel about those they supervise.

In the modern business world, however, HR professionals need to be presenting information on performance management that goes beyond people’s opinions of one another. Some job roles, like sales executives, have obvious metrics you can use but as more and more jobs have a multi-disciplinary aspect to them, drawing up KPIs that measure different aspects of performance are increasingly tricky. Consequently, HR professionals should be using a range of KPIs to measure performance and not just sticking to tried and tested ones that skew performances sometimes to the detriment of the overall business objective.

The Role of Remote Training

Having already mentioned the so-called new normal with working practices in the UK in 2022, it should also be mentioned that not having people in the same workspace with one another as often as used to be the case presents a challenge for training schedules. All HR managers need to ensure that training is kept up to date among the workforce they’re responsible for, of course. Without the right skills in-house, certain business procedures might be impossible to complete. There again, you might need to ensure sector-specific regulatory compliance is kept up to date among a sufficient number of workers.

To overcome this challenge when workers are so spread out, the adoption of remote training is all but essential nowadays. Remember that both in-person training and web-based training modules can occur online. If you’ve used a third-party trainer to deliver professional education to your teams before, then make sure they have the capacity to host online sessions via a webcam, too. This way, training is still interactive and not a one-way street like so many online training modules can be. In fact, the same goes for your onboarding experience with new employees. If you haven’t already geared up to offer online onboarding and orientation sessions, now is the time to start.

The Importance of Leadership Development

With many developed economies reaching something close to full employment, the costs of hiring talented staff are likely to soar. Inflation is already high and skilled workers and executives are only likely to switch to working for your organisation if you can offer a superior remuneration package. In short, workers know it is a competitive market at the moment and demands are consequently only going to go up. Therefore, developing the potential within your own team becomes increasingly attractive.

HR professionals should be identifying potential leaders all the time. Part of this comes down to measuring employee engagement and working out which workers are the most motivated and have the qualities of self-starters. Remember, too, that looking in-house for leadership development plugs into organisations’ diversity and inclusion agenda. In other words, by seeking talented people – or, at least, those with potential – from among all of your employees, not just some, you can build a stronger and more varied leadership team that is fit for the commercial challenges of the twenty-first century.