The past three years have thrown several difficult and unique challenges HR’s way.
First, the pandemic forced leaders to double down on employee wellbeing as companies rapidly shifted to remote work.
Since then, we’ve also had the ‘Great Resignation’ and ‘quiet quitting’ to carefully navigate.
Now, as we approach the last few months of 2023, it’s the world’s uncertain economic environment that continues to impact daily life.
However, this turbulence is also swinging the market back in the favor of employers.
Visier found that despite 46% of employees admitting they’d like to change jobs, 81% say they plan to ride out the downturn with their current employer.
So, it seems employees are now starting to prioritize stability in the workplace. But does that mean HR professionals can afford to rest on their laurels? Certainly not!
Relying on a downturn to retain employees is a very poor, short-term strategy. And even if employees aren’t looking to move jobs imminently, that doesn’t mean they don’t still want to think big or strive for more in their day-to-day work.
Now more than ever, business and HR leaders need to be more intentional in their approach to building productive and engaged teams.
Because it’s during difficult times that it’s most important to make sure people remain invested in their work – and for the right reasons.
So, what are the key elements underpinning the strong people strategies of HR leaders fostering and driving high-performing teams?
1. Purpose integrated into the company’s ethos
The traditional nine-to-five job simply doesn’t suffice anymore, as individuals are in search of more than just a paycheck from their employers.
In this purpose-driven era, we all desire some sense of meaning and purpose in our professional lives.
We want to genuinely believe in our work, feel a personal connection to what we do, and see it make a positive difference in the industry, community, and world.
This means HR leaders need to develop a well-defined mission that’s aligned with the objectives and talent strategy of the business.
For instance, our mission at Dropbox is to shape the future of work through the creation of tools for distributed teams – a mission that perfectly aligns with our virtual-first strategy.
As such, our teams don’t just build these new products – they live by them, and embody the hybrid/remote work model we’re working to make more accessible and efficient.
Achieving alignment between our purpose and business strategy requires clear communication and adept leadership, both from HR and the wider business.
So, it falls to HR leaders to bridge any gaps that may be preventing employees from seeing themselves as part of the company’s future.
2. Clear paths and equal opportunities
Another key element of a successful people strategy today is a culture of enablement – an environment that fosters high performance in individuals.
People are often motivated by the successes of those around them.
So, by structuring teams in ways that enable everyone to see the accomplishments of top talent across the company, businesses raise the bar for others by exemplifying the right types of behavior.
But for this to work, it needs to come from the top-down, with leaders walking the walk and talking the talk.
It’s also crucial to recognize the many facets talent can take. HR leaders need to explore different ways to uncover champions at all levels and across all divisions to truly inspire and motivate individuals company-wide.
It’s key employees feel they have equal opportunities to succeed if this strategy to work.
So, HR leaders need to clearly explain the rules of the game by sharing as many different examples as possible of excellence, as this will help employees visualize their own potential path to success and recognition.
To this end, having dedicated top talent programs that provide learning and development support, access to stretch projects and new meaningful work, is vital.
3. Technology enabling high performance
The third element of a strong, modern, people strategy is a well thought-through tech stack that’s both aligned with office policies and individual ways of working.
Hybrid work models are hard to deliver successfully long term, evident in the numerous companies that recently announced their intention to have employees return to the office full-time.
However, despite these pushes to get people back into the office, research shows most employees see the future of work somewhat differently.
One 2022 survey found that 97% of employees would like to work remotely – at least some of the time – for the rest of their careers.
To strike the right balance between hybrid work and employee satisfaction, businesses need to combine a flexible strategy with an effective technology stack.
During the pandemic, companies deployed multiple tech tools – sometimes to the detriment of operations.
Too many tools can decrease productivity, as employees find themselves having to navigate a cumbersome number of applications, while also trying to stay on top of the influx of notifications they can result in.
However, the good news for employers is that productivity and remote work are not mutually exclusive – at Dropbox, we’re exceeding industry benchmarks and almost all (93%) of our employees feel they can be effective working remotely.
So, to prevent or escape a work cycle that drains employees’ time, energy, and motivation, companies should strive for a single, AI-powered platform capable of seamlessly integrating all enterprise apps and organizing all work content – enabling employees to focus on what really matters.
Whether they’re recording an update or signing a contract, having one centralized dashboard screen for all files and workflows will enable employees to easily access necessary the content and data they need wherever they are.
The future of work must prioritize connecting people, regardless of their location, so employees can collaborate at a global level with ease.
And companies that fail to equip their team with the right tools will risk significantly missing out on improved productivity levels and job satisfaction.
As HR leaders, we’ve been pushed to rise to the occasion many times over the past few years, evolving to meet the changing needs of our teams and organizations.
And while market dynamics remain in employers’ favor, it’s time to hone in on fostering genuine engagement and ensuring employees remain committed – not merely out of necessity, but out of a genuine connection to their roles and the company’s ethos.
HR’s strategic role in driving value, purpose, and motivation within teams is paramount to achieving this.
And those who keep in mind purpose and equal opportunities, while working to provide the right supportive tech stack, will be well-placed to reaffirm the essence of workplace culture for their organizations.
Sign up to the UNLEASH Newsletter
Get the Editor’s picks of the week delivered straight to your inbox!