Five HR lessons you need to take from 2021 to 2022
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If you want to reduce employee turnover and improve satisfaction, you need to put employee engagement first
What was 2021 like for your organisation? Have you welcomed employees back into the office? Have you introduced a mandatory Covid-19 vaccination policy? For many HR teams, this past year has been another 12 months of change and challenges. We’ve seen that hybrid working is here to stay, with employees wanting the flexibility to work from home and the office as it suits them;, and that growing numbers of employees are leaving jobs that don’t satisfy them – leaving HR teams to face the impact of the ‘great resignation.’ However, with all that’s occurred this past year, what are the five key lessons we’ve learned that HR should take forward into 2022?
1. Employee engagement has to come first
This past year we’ve learnt that employees are no longer willing to stay at a company that doesn’t engage them – they are motivated less by pay and more by appreciation – so HR has to do more to engage its employees.
Showing your employees how much they mean to you by offering them flexible working opportunities and greater autonomy are just two of the ways you can improve intrinsic motivation and, in turn, improve employee engagement.
In 2021, we’ve also learnt more about the significance of listening to employees and how this can engage the workforce.
In a recent Ciphr webinar, David Godden of Thymometrics said “employees simply won’t stick around if they don’t feel that they’re being listened to or if they feel undervalued. It’s not just the pay or the perks that keep people in the company – it’s their daily experience of working in an inclusive and transparent workplace where their views are respected.”
He added: “people go through all sorts of emotional changes on a regular basis, from stress to joy to uncertainty to anger, and never has it been more relevant to open the lines of communication with your people than over the last 18 months.”
Going into 2022, you should make sure employee engagement remains as one of your organisation’s top HR priorities for the foreseeable future.
2. You need to handle recruitment effectively
According to the ONS, the number of job vacancies in August to October 2021 continued to rise to a new record of 1,172,000, an increase of 388,000 from the pre-coronavirus pandemic January to March 2020 level.
This year, HR have had to post more vacancies than usual in response to more employees leaving their jobs, and, according to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC), the growth in job adverts shows “no signs of slowing down in the build up to Christmas”, despite concerns about increases in the cost of living and the continued Covid-19 cases.
As a result, you need to make sure your recruitment processes are as efficient as possible in 2022 if you want to recruit top talent.
Take the time to invest in an applicant tracking system (ATS) like Ciphr iRecruit, which can make it easy for you to publish vacancies to multiple website, job boards, agencies and social media channels; capture CVs; filter applications; and capture a talent pool of potential candidates for future roles.
Any good ATS should also have a positive impact on the candidate experience, by making it quicker and simpler for people to make multiple applications, track the status of their application, and monitor communications – via any internet-enabled device.
3. Keep communication open and transparent
While investing in an ATS can help you improve communications between HR and candidates, it’s also important to remember that you should be as open and honest as possible when communicating with all your people.
This year, employees haven’t been entirely satisfied with the way their company has responded to the pandemic. In a recent poll, 64% said they senior leaders believed staff were more loyal because of their company’s response to the pandemic, but just 45% of employees felt their organisations handled the coronavirus pandemic well and were more loyal as a result.
To reduce employee turnover and improve employee satisfaction, you should make sure that HR’s focus in 2022 also includes better communication.
Let employees know what you are doing in response to rising Covid-19 cases for example, send out company-wide messages once a week or monthly, and arrange calls with managers so that they know what needs to be communicated down to their employees.
Encourage employees to ask their manager about anything they are unsure of, but also make sure you give managers the relevant training they need to communicate effectively – research by Digits found that one in four (26%) people that manage or supervise other people have never received any management training.
4. Recognise that hybrid working is here to stay
When talking to Forbes, author and business leader Brian Fielkow said: “we will never be back in the office five days per week. It will be a blend.” In a recent Ciphr webinar with Charity Digital, 30% of attendees said they allow staff to choose whether they work at home or in the office, and just 20% say that staff are working at home nearly all the time.
It’s clear that hybrid working – also known as blended working – is here to stay, so you need to make sure you have policies in place that allow employees to work flexibly.
If senior leaders want to make hybrid working a free choice, communicate this clearly and formally to all employees by updating your company handbook or uploading relevant policy documents to your HR system for employees to read.
Similarly, if you’re making hybrid working mandatory, set out all the details and processes in a document that all employees can access.
Make sure you tell employees what they need to do to raise a flexible working request and ensure that your HR team knows what to do to handle such requests efficiently.
During the peak of the pandemic, many of us experienced the downsides of working from home, as well as the benefits. In 2022, being clear with your people about when and where they are expected to work, ensuring they have the right equipment and environment to perform at their best, and encouraging managers to check in regularly with their direct reports should help to mitigate some of the negatives associated with blended working.
5. Stay focused on mental health, wellbeing, and diversity
Many people choose the new year to start a health kick, so why not begin 2022 with a renewed focus on mental health, wellbeing, and inclusion in the workplace?
Employees are still having to deal with the impact of the pandemic and need to be supported at work if they are struggling with burnout, anxiety, or stress for example. Make sure you have employee assistance programmes (EAP) in place so that employees can receive the support they need, and make sure all employees know that you value their mental health and wellbeing.
When it comes to improving diversity and inclusion, you should approach 2022 as the year where you take action to make a change – or take bigger and better action if needed. A November 2021 survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), found that just 47% of managers said their organisations were taking active steps to increase the proportion of employees from diverse ethnic groups through their recruitment practices. The same poll found that 43% of managers reported their senior management teams had no staff from diverse ethnic groups.
Take action to build a more diverse and inclusive hiring strategy, start reporting your ethnicity pay gap (and gender pay gap) if you’re not already doing so, and make sure you don’t lose focus of the importance of improving diversity and inclusion.
While we don’t know what 2022 will bring us, you can prepare for it by learning from the lessons of 2021 and reviewing what has worked well – and what can be improved.