What’s on the Horizon for HR?
There are four things that I believe will have significant impact on our future workplaces. These issues may be the catalyst for imminent, widespread change among the HR profession.
Our employees are going to have expectations regarding work/life integration. According to a National Study of the Changing Workforce 87 percent of employees report that having the flexibility they need to manage their personal and work lives is extremely or very important. However, only 20 percent report that they currently have that flexibility. Many workers now consider workplace flexibility to be one of the most important factors in considering job offers.
Not only will the HR Professional have to be an advocate for the employees to ensure workplaces meet the needs of their workforce in order to have a recruiting advantage, they will also have to develop job descriptions and work flow processes that are adaptive to a flexible work environment. Things like “attendance” and “punctuality” may have little significance in a workplace where employees telecommute. Rather, behaviors that drive business results will need to be measured.
We are going to increasingly see more diverse cultures within every workplace. Businesses that recruit from a diverse workforce are better able to find the best and the brightest talent needed to compete in an increasingly competitive economy. It’s the different backgrounds, skills, and experiences that generate innovative and creative solutions. According to the Center for American Progress, 36 percent of the workforce is currently made up of those currently classified as “minorities.” Current research shows that by 2050 (just 36 years from now) there will be no racial majority in our workplaces.
HR Professionals are going to have to personally embrace cultural diversity before they can expect that the workplace they serve will embrace it. Further, they will have to make inclusion a priority in their organizational initiatives—not because it’s required due to a federal or state mandate, but because it’s the key to a strong viable organization.
Gone are the days when an organization’s health benefit package could be used as a recruiting tool. Over time, we will see that health benefits will level off so that all organizations are offering the same thing. Then, what’s next?
HR Professionals are going to have to be creative to uncover something else to attract the top talent. Maybe it’s an inviting culture, maybe it’s providing what are currently considered “optional” benefits, but I suspect it will preclude excessive additional organizational spend.
Public Awareness of Internal Issues: What happens in the workplace no longer stays in the workplace. Employees are sharing openly on their Facebook pages about events and happenings at work—both good and bad. Organizational reputations can be sullied in 140 characters with one well-timed Tweet and a trending hashtag.
This is where I believe culture plays a very strong role. Organizations that are communicative with their employees, even in hard times, are more likely to have contented employees. HR professionals will have to stay focused on a supportive work culture where there is emphasis on common goals and all employees understand the mission of the organization and their role within it.
Whatever specific issues we face as HR professionals we must guide the business decisions of our organizations to position them for success. We’ve spent the last 25 years developing procedures to respond to regulatory requirements. Let’s spend the future focused on organizational growth and employee engagement.
Joyce Chastain, SPHR | President