HR Trends

9 HR trends as we turn the corner on the pandemic

There are several HR trends we’re seeing as we return to a new normal two years after the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe.

As we’ve discussed before, there were some surprising lessons we learned from working remotely during lockdowns. It makes sense that a common theme we’re hearing from our coaching clients is how their organizations have all had to restructure, change or adapt (so much so that some of us are tired of the term pivot) in some way.

These experiences all contribute to the HR trends folks are encountering right now. Things like:

Accepting that virtual work is here to stay. While this isn’t true for everyone, of course, because many jobs require front-line effort and client-facing work, the reality is that organizations have realized how well working remotely can work for some roles. We witnessed myths about working from home debunked by necessity! We’ve learned that with work from home, productivity sometimes increases, as does job satisfaction – and it can save on workspace and overhead costs. At the same time, many organizations that pronounced early on they would never return to the office are now seeing costs and losses when we lose synergy and corporate culture. So where does it all shake out? The hybrid workplace. Employees are thriving with a hybrid approach to virtual work that allows some employees to work remotely more often (though not always) and some employees to work in the office more often, if that works for them.

Normalizing flexible work options. Now that we’ve had mass uptake of remote working and seen the success, organizations are moving toward a point where employees who can have flexibility in their schedules, do have flexibility in their schedules. While this is one of the longest coming shifts, it is also perhaps one of the most exciting of current HR trends because it will be a major consideration for retention and stemming the tide of resignations and retirements. Even before Covid, we covered the myriad benefits of telecommuting (as it was called before “WFH”).

Building stronger teams is essential. Strong teams have always played an essential role in organizational success, but now more than ever leaders and managers must build trust and cohesion. It’s important to stay intentional about team building when fewer team members are regularly in the office together. Recognizing this is a challenge is one thing, but what do you do about it? How will you train employees, communicate between remote and on-site staff and develop bonds? With experience and the right tools, leaders can learn to help hybrid teams thrive. We’ve shared tips for leading remote teams, and we’ve even shared strategies for handling performance reviews when your workplace shifts to flexible work arrangements.

Bolstering agile emotional intelligence. With hybrid workplaces becoming the norm across various industries, people management and effective leadership becomes even more critical than before. Talented and adaptable managers will have to become the norm, not only to navigate a digitally connected workforce but also conflicting views about safety/comfort in the workplace. That means training and coaching current managers and future managers to build the leadership cadre you need.

Fostering Resilience. One of the biggest things we’ve learned during the pandemic is that our organizations, and thus our employees, need to be resilient. Employees and managers alike need to be equipped with tools to build resilience alongside productivity and to learn how their approach to change can be managed when it is thrust upon them. Leaders who are able to move to resilient leadership will be prepared to deal with adversity and help their team members to manage uncertainty.

Focusing on Mental Health. We’re living in unprecedented times. It should come as no surprise that the stress and uncertainty facing vast amounts of the population have taken a toll. As organizations scrambled to react to a crisis that was beyond their control, it thrust well-being forward as a factor that, finally, couldn’t be ignored. Mental health has become a priority. Figuring out how to lead an exhausted team when you feel the same way is not easy.

Addressing diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging reaches the forefront. We’re at the point that DEI is finally going beyond counting heads for representation graphs. Matters of diversity and inclusion have become part of the conversation as HR professionals seek to address bias, unfair wages, lack of visibility and voice and other problems that matter to team members and build real diversity.

Recognizing that leadership development is a continuous improvement exercise. Rather than a “one and done course on leadership” approach, more and more organizations are rolling out a combined learning experience of leadership programs and live training, on-the-job opportunities and learn-at-your-own-pace management micro-training. While learning at your own pace will never replace live events, it can be used as an on-the-job reference and learning aid as well as a curriculum to develop staff into managers and managers into leaders. As well, we are seeing massive uptake in the power of peer learning with other leaders. Group and team coaching, and peer learning, coupled with mentors, coaches and guides will take the forefront in the months ahead.

Understanding that corporate culture is under scrutiny. As organizations respond to (or don’t) and dive into (or don’t) issues that are both locally and globally significant – such as diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, reconciliation, climate protection and society vs economy to name a few – others are watching and will define your corporate culture for you. Discussing the topics at leadership tables and being deliberate about the issues and the organization’s response to them will be essential for those who want to be seen the way they think they’re showing up.

Coach’s Questions:

Which HR trends resonate for you? Were there any HR trends that were new ideas for you? Which items do you feel your organization needs to get a jump on right away? What have we missed in our forecast?