People management is evolving – and quickly.
From the hybrid worker experience to sky-high talent mobility, the hand of HR leaders is being forced to find new ways to structure their workforce and retain top talent. Departments have more responsibility than ever to deliver sustainable growth and resilience, which is driving the need to design a solid people strategy that aligns with core business goals.
We find ourselves at a key inflection point in the first quarter of 2023. Strategic decisions made now will have a direct impact on how well businesses will navigate fresh challenges, changing expectations and ongoing uncertainty.
UNLEASH caught up with Caitlin Duffy, Research Director of Gartner’s HR practice, to discuss the year ahead and dig into three recurring trends that are cropping up across various industries.
Creating a consistent employee experience
Employee experience has become a focal point for HR in recent years; but now that focus is being spread further to cover the experience of employees outside the typical office setting. More attention is being paid to remote, hybrid and frontline workers than ever before. The problem is how do you deliver a consistent experience that engages all departments at all organizational levels?
“Businesses suddenly have employees who are dispersed across different locations and have uneven experiences in their day-to-day roles,” explains Duffy. “The workplace has always faced a phenomenon called ‘proximity bias’, where people who are seen and heard most often are favored for promotion and development.
“This is particularly problematic in the hybrid workplace, and we often see companies end up with two classes of employees – those who benefit from visibility and those who don’t. The unevenness is being exacerbated by political, economic, and societal challenges and so HR leaders face an urgent need to address it in 2023.
“Our research shows that a fairer employee experience can improve employee performance by 26% and employee retention by 27%. Businesses should be looking to develop a more nuanced understanding of the different groups of people within the organization and how they are impacted by different scenarios. From there they can look to adapt benefits, train managers, and ensure equal access to opportunities.”
Is the battle for talent still worth fighting?
Gartner’s research also found that 50% of HR leaders expect increased talent competition over the next six months. For HR, the question is whether they should prioritize upskilling and internal development, or continue fighting the battle for talent in adverse conditions. According to Duffy, the early indications are that organizations are favoring the former:
“Many HR leaders expect increased competition for talent this year, but hiring is also expected to slow and organizations will continue to face a skills crisis. Business leaders will become more reliant on the development of their existing workforce, and we expect to see them find new and innovative ways of acquiring the necessary skills and capabilities.
“Progressive HR leaders will leverage skills adjacencies and look at ways to drive talent mobility within the organization, such as deploying existing employees in business-critical areas of the company.
“Another important shift is the need for organizations to expand and diversify their traditional talent pools. Organizations are struggling to meet their talent needs through standard recruitment methods, and employees are increasingly pursuing non-linear career paths – both of which are forcing leaders to look for candidates with non-traditional educational and professional backgrounds.”
Measuring outcomes is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’
Nearly half (44%) of HR leaders report driving better business outcomes as their top strategic priority for HR technology transformation in the next three years, ranking far ahead of growth in headcount and skills (26%) in second place.
“HR must anticipate higher demand for tools to track measurable outcomes that justify investment in key areas of the business,” says Duffy. “The most important HR technologies will likely be those relating to skills management, learning experience platforms and internal talent marketplaces.
“Although some leaders might hope to implement new technologies, many will focus on the deployment and optimization of existing technologies within the business. For example, most cloud applications have between two and four updates per year, so HR leaders must effectively communicate this in a timely fashion to ensure employees can benefit from existing technologies”.
As the rise of analytics and intuitive reporting continues, more and more businesses are coming to rely on people data insights to inform crucial strategic decisions. This presents a big opportunity for HR leaders to direct the future of their organization and fully justify their seat in the boardroom for years to come.
Want more exclusive insights to help shape your people strategy? Join the experts on March 16 for a free webinar – Economists Corner: How the BIG Picture Impacts People Strategy – to learn how a shifting labor market and other macroeconomic factors could affect your people management plans for 2023. Attendance is limited so don’t forget to secure your spot!
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