During the pandemic, there has been plenty of talk about how companies can successfully pivot to remote and hybrid working, but what is the reality that employees are facing?
HR industry analyst Fosway, in partnership with UNLEASH, has investigated the current situation in Europe. To do this, Fosway and UNLEASH have spoken to 313 HR professionals.
60% of the respondents belonged to companies that employ more than 1,000 workers, 77% were European, and 60% have a global role.
Speaking about the research, Marc Coleman, founder and CEO at UNLEASH, commented: “After a year in which HR stepped up and became real heroes in organizations around the world, it is so important we check in with what’s changed, what’s serving us well – and what’s not.”
The findings are eye-opening and showcase the difficulties of the last 18 months.
Current HR challenges
In the survey, 93% of HR professionals reported making changes to their people strategy in response to the pandemic. On top of that, 38% noted that they were making significant changes to what they do and how they do it.
Evidently, teams are adapting, but this has proved to be a painful experience.
Only 20% found it easy for their HR operations to cope with the changes COVID-19 brought to their organization.
Despite this struggle, companies still need to become accustomed to a new world and the challenges the pandemic has introduced. This is particularly as it was found that 81% believe that the pandemic has changed work forever.
The main adaptations are around flexible working and how companies and employees expect to work.
This is unsurprising given 28% of employees and 35% of companies would prefer to be on-site one to two days a week.
In response to this climate, 83% of respondents have brought forward a progressive approach to flexible working, 64% have accelerated their strategy for personal wellbeing, and 59% have quickened their policies on employee work-life balance.
Many will see this as a wise area of investment, as the ‘Great Resignation’ sees people leave work for greater flexibility and work-life balance.
Technology and investment
The technology behind HR looks set to shift dramatically going forward. Investments in analytics, recruiting, onboarding, talent mobility, and learning are set to grow over the next year.
In fact, over 50% intend to increase analytics and intelligence funding, while over 40% of respondents will put more money into recruiting and talent acquisition as well as learning and development.
There were also responses that claimed that wellbeing would be invested in, despite concerns raised by Modern Health, a leading workplace mental health platform, that companies may cut this funding as more people return to the office.
In terms of what is driving change for companies, 77% of respondents noted that it was employee experience, while said 68% user interface, and 64% pointed to enhanced analytics.
Discussing these findings, Marc Coleman stated: “The emphasis on the employee experience and the additional planned investment in people analytics show that HR has moved beyond the transactional to the transformational.
“We have to know and understand what our people want and respond to that, especially in such a tough talent market where attraction and retention is more challenging than ever.”
Looking ahead, David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group, noted that one of the biggest changes in investment areas will be talent mobility.
Wilson noted: “Talent mobility, which was a bit further down on the list in terms of the investment areas [in previous studies], has become a huge thing.
“So in many of the corporates that we are talking to, they’re looking at talent marketplaces and talent mobility is a key focus area for them.
“Often [companies are using] using things outside their main HR stack, but also looking at our HR suite provider potentially is also now looking at doing that that’s a huge area for activity.”
If you would like to hear more of David Wilson’s analysis of the HR market, be sure to catch up on our webinar where he is joined by David Perring, director of research at Fosway, and our very own Kate Graham or find out more on the Fosway website.