Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 22/2/2020 (210 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
We often hear the only thing that is constant in the world is change and this is very true when it comes to our workplaces. Organizations have changed dramatically over the past 10 years and will continue to change at a fast pace, and human resources management is no exception.
The following are several areas of change in the area of human resources that are impacting organizations and professionals right now.
Digital Human Resources — In particular, the use of advanced technologies and automation in the field has grown by leaps and bounds. Human resource professionals now use software to manage their candidate searches, read through resumés and pick out key words, track and measure attendance, monitor employee entry/exit tracking through eye or handprint recognition as well as tracking computer use and employee productivity. Even performance reviews are now typically all ‘online."
In other words, technology has moved from "nice to have" to being a major human resource tool and a necessary requirement in the workforce. Yet, at the same time technology and automation will continue to change and even eliminate many of today’s jobs. Human resource professionals need to be prepared to deal with this.
Employee Benefits — Earlier thoughts of HR professionals were that the millennial group of employees were looking for much more exotic benefits such as bringing a dog to work, serving popcorn all day long, offering gaming tables and sleep rooms for afternoon naps. Interestingly enough, recent research is suggesting this approach of unique perks is slipping away while requests for traditional benefits such as vacation, sick leave and pension plans are growing. Apparently, the request for flexible work hours remains steady. Whether this turn of the tide remains is one thing but managers need to pay attention to how this potential change of attitude will impact compensation and benefit planning.
Employee wellness — The wellness movement is growing within society and is leading to the rise of more publicly available exercise and gym opportunities, unique new diet strategies as well as more focus on employee wellness within our organizations. Finally, leaders are realizing the value that employees with positive mental health bring to an organization. As a result, there are more training programs for HR professionals and managers on recognizing stress and mental health issues. More internal programming for employees is being offered in the area of stress and conflict management. I was also interested to learn that there’s a new "kindness movement" emerging within organizations. Frankly, it’s hard to believe that we need to teach people to be kind to one another but that is the environment we seem to be currently living in.
Harassment and retaliation in the workplace training — With the #MeToo movement raising the alarm and the ongoing high-profile harassment court cases keeping attention on the issue, more and more organizations are training managers to understand bullying and harassment and how to safeguard against it. As well, corporate owners are finally standing up and saying, "we’re not taking it anymore". Instead, they are taking urgent action to remove people from their organizations that are engaged in this behaviour. On the other hand, training, policy work and action still needs to be done in the area of retaliation as this is becoming a common issue with harassment cases and will continue to place organizations at legal risk.
General soft skills training — Organizations are also realizing they can’t afford to lose the human touch and that communication and interpersonal skills are key to developing positive workplace relationships. As a result, soft skills training is growing once again with an emphasis on teamwork, conflict resolution, assertive communication, emotional intelligence and mindfulness. On the other hand, much more focus is being placed on people skills and soft skills when interviewing and hiring new leadership candidates.
Corporate and employee activism — After years of internal focus, corporations are finally understanding that they can play a role in the social issues found in society. Thus, there is a growth of social responsibility programming where employees are offered the opportunity to "do good" by volunteering in the community. Yes, some organizations have been doing this for some time while others are just getting started. Look around for opportunities to contribute. It is also a growing employee engagement opportunity.
Inclusive leadership — Diversity is all around us. Diversity of markets, diversity of customers and diversity of technology and ideas. Yet, many of our organizations are still not representative of our diverse population. Yes, more women are found in leadership positions but more needs to be done. However, one trend that is growing is recognition that our Indigenous people deserve to be a key part of our organizations and that they have been left out for many years. As a result, corporations of all kinds are training leaders and employees on the historical background on how Indigenous people have been treated in Canada and creating new opportunities for respect and full participation in the workforce. Inclusivity is the new trend.
Employee engagement — Employee engagement has been a growing trend since early in 2017 and it is predicted to grow even more in 2020. Organizations want to know what makes their employees tick. They want to know if they are satisfied with their job, why that is and what can be done to make things better. It is also important to learn what an employee believes is a key driver of their engagement so that employers can assess whether they need to make changes to their compensation, benefits, development opportunities, or the work environment.
Instant work teams — With organizational structure changing in order to respond more quickly to market changes, there is a move to create smaller work teams that can get together quickly and work on projects for a period of time ranging from one to two years. These are often developmental opportunities for selected employees as continuous learning is now becoming a must. This creates employees with stronger skills that can be moved around the organization for greater flexibility. Often as well, these instant work teams include employees from different locations all connected through technology. This approach of course will require more HR tracking of where employees are in the organization, what skills they are learning and identifying what project they can move to next.
Smaller HR departments — With the advent of increased technology and increased employee self-management through the use of technology, it is predicted that the human resource department will shrink and that specialist job roles will be outsourced to specialized human resource consultants. This also means that entry level HR jobs will decline and the skill level for senior human resource professionals will need to increase. The area of benefits is predicted to be particularly hard hit as it is anticipated that this will be outsourced to a specialty company that can offer "benefits in a box" of cost-effective services.
Yes, life in our organizations is still changing and changing fast. But this means that to be successful in today’s environment, it requires human resource professionals to be fully engaged in continuous learning. If not, then the future will pass you by.
Barbara J. Bowes, FCPHR, CCP, M.Ed., of the consulting firm Legacy Bowes, is the author of eight books, a radio personality, a speaker, an executive coach and workshop leader. She is also chairwoman of the Manitoba Status of Women. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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