Comms In A Nutshell is your go to place to listen to discussions with industry experts, global brands and our hosts Vic McEwan & Scott Ritchie about the most pressing topics surrounding the world of work.
In case you missed episode 3, hosts Vic & Scott’s guest Bryony Solly (Oak Engage’s People Co-Ordinator) discussed how employees can relax and unwind over the festive period and how employers can support this. We explored the top areas of wellbeing that businesses should focus on, and how they can help prevent stress and burnout - tips that you can carry forward with you into the new year.
If you want to listen to this episode, you can catch up right here.
Comms In A Nutshell #4 “HR Trends & Challenges for 2022”
January is upon us and what better time to look ahead to what we might face in the coming year. In this month's podcast episode Vic & Scott chat to Daniel Cave. Daniel, until recently worked as the Head of Content for HR Grapevine (an award winning publication) to be an independent HR journalist covering HR, employment and work.
Daniel was voted HR Journalist of the Year in 2020 at the Willis Tower Watson Virtual Media Awards and in this episode we asked Daniel what his predictions were on the challenges that HR & Comms professionals will be faced with as we enter 2022.
This episode sees us discuss 5 areas and how businesses can prepare for these challenges.
- HR & Comms
- Employer Brand Perception
- Talent Acquisition
- HR’s role within business
You can listen to the episode below, or you can listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or any other major podcast player.
Speaker 1 (00:10):
Welcome to Comms In A Nutshell, your go-to place to listen to discussions with industry experts and global brands about the world of work, internal comms, technology, and how you can get the best out of your workforce. At the end of each episode, we wrap up all the tips and findings in a nutshell so that you can start implementing them right away. We hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year and to kick things off in 2022, myself and Scott are chatting to Daniel cave. In this episode, Daniel is a well established HR journalist. He has just recently left his role as the head of content for HR grapevine, an award-winning HR publication to be an independent HR journalist. Daniel is continuously immersed in and writing features and news on HR, people management, workplace trends, employee wellbeing, and current affairs within the workplace today. Daniel was voted HR journalist of the year in 2020 at the Willis tower Watson virtual media awards. And we're really looking forward to discussing HR trends and challenges for the year ahead and how you can prepare and adapt to them. Enjoy this episode.
Speaker 2 (01:21):
Welcome to Comms In A Nutshell, I'm your co-host Scott and I'm joined today by Vic, our host. Hi everyone. And we're joined with Daniel who was up until recently, uh, the head of content for HR grapevine, but is now an independent freelance journalist for, uh, human resources and internal communications. This episode, we're going to be looking at challenges for 2022, that would be affecting the realm of HR. Um, so really Daniel, how are you to begin with.
Speaker 3 (01:48):
Yeah, I'm, I'm good. Thank you. Um, looking forward to discussing, you know, the ever changing HR, a agenda, um, and kind of hoping maybe to make some connections for those in HR about what, you know, conversations that I've had with HR practitioners that can shed some light on where the function will go in the future.
Speaker 1 (02:09):
Amazing. Thank you, Daniel. So yeah, obviously, as you said, we wanna educate our listeners of the potential challenges, um, that those in HR and comms are kind of gonna be faced with this year. So can you tell the listeners what you think in your opinion are gonna be the top challenges that are gonna be coming in 2022?
Speaker 3 (02:27):
Yeah, sure. Um, I guess up front, I want to say that I'm not, this is my get out jail free guard in case I'm like massively, you know, um, off kilter with some of my suggestions, but I'm not a HR practitioner, but what I feel, um, really, really lucky about is that through my role, as you know, Ex Head of content at HR grapevine, and now as a freelance journalist, that I get a lot of FaceTime with a lot of really senior HR people and some really forward thinking and people that are way more intelligent myself that operate in HR in the business space. And as a result, I kind of get to like create this patchwork of where I think the function, um, might go. So I've made, as you asked me to, before I came, came on this podcast, you know, um, some predictions, but I think before I get into those, I wanna say that I think actually it was a really, really difficult task that you set me because I think HRS less and less siloed.
Speaker 3 (03:27):
And it's less about here's you, you've got to focus this year on your comp and bends, or you've got to focus this year on your comms or focus this year on your it and your technology provision. It's so difficult to, um, pick those apart. Now I found because they're all affecting each other and HR is a bit more holistic in how it thinks. So I feel that whilst I've made a few predictions, um, actually there's like a, there's like an underlay of all of them that might be well, actually this speaks to the employee experience as well. Well, actually this speaks about what people want from work these days. So it was really, really difficult task is what I'm trying to say in it in a, in a longwinded way. However, my first, um, prediction for what HR should be focusing on this year is communication.
Speaker 3 (04:12):
Now I know that sounds really, really obvious. And in fact, a, a recent study from Sage people that thinks that, yeah, so Sage Sage people data found that, um, HR as a function itself thinks that one of the best ways to get like a really good business outcome this year will be focusing on making your communication better. So I guess end of there, I don't, I don't have to put my neck on the line. It's just HR itself. It has said that, however, I think underneath that, why they think communication is so important is one, um, HR is having to be a bit more strategic and there's so much change at the moment. Um, there's a really good study from PWC every year, which looks at what CEOs are thinking and what they're worried about and what they're saying. Um, so this is a 2021 study looking for forward is that uncertainty and like big shifts and the shifts to the employment landscape and policy and the business landscape and technology are going to happen.
Speaker 3 (05:10):
So of course the following from that is if so much change is happening and there's so much uncertainty, the very least you can do is communicate well. So like communication during a time of change, the pandemic was a really good example of this for HR is really, really crucial because even if you don't know the answers or you have a really, really long term view of something, you can just keep your people in the loop. So organizations that did this well were often the organizations that were able to like survive slash thrive, during the pandemic, and that's gonna be really, really useful going forward as well. Cause we all know the big changes on the, the horizon. The second reason I think that HR people are saying that comms is gonna be super, super important is that there is so much demand on employers now from employees.
Speaker 3 (05:53):
And there's so much tweaks to not just the strategic and the uncertainty and the macro outlook, but also like the day to day and the operational. So it's just good to know in a two-way way as well. It's not just HR telling the business what's happening in employees, but like, um, learning what their employees want. So those surveys and, and things like that. So it's about understanding literally the minutia of where your business is at each day and able to take a temperature and maybe, you know, get some data from that and, and create a bit of view going forward. Um, I think as well, the, the reason that HR is probably focused so much on comms as that Sage study showed is because what we saw at the start of the pandemic is that HR started to own communication a lot more than other functions.
Speaker 3 (06:35):
Um, I spoke to some really senior HR people at the start of the pandemic and they said, well, basically we've become like an ad hoc, um, you know, like call center for like, what does this change mean? Or what does remote work mean? Or how can I get a, a laptop, et cetera? What does this mean for my health and safety, or I I've got a vulnerability? What does this mean? And they've really not let that go. Uh, I, I, I, at least in the conversations that I've, I've been having, so whilst it might not want to have taken that role at the start of the pandemic or might not have had it, you know, traditionally it was super well placed because it has this like really unique view. I feel at least in the conversations that I've had of the business where interacts with so many different departments, and it is kind of like in the loop when it comes to finance or legislation or people, or just like the business structure that it's got a really, or has, has the ability to be able to like, get all that information in, distill it in a way that it people understand because it is the people function mm-hmm <affirmative> and then put that out in a way that it knows is more likely to be accepted, digested and then responded in a really good man by its, by its people as well.
Speaker 3 (07:43):
Um, I, I think that's just gonna be really increasingly important as well. Um, because we know it's not just like big, external changes that HR has to deal with, but lots of smaller things too. So, you know what workers want day to day, how they perceive changes their organization are doing, um, maybe hopes and dreams and fears about their career, et cetera, et cetera. So I mentioned two-way communications at the start of my answer here, and I think that's gonna be a really big, big part of it too. It's not just a HR communicating what's happening to its staff, but literally the staff themselves coming back to HR and being like, actually, this is where I feel, or this is where I feel the commun the, the organization should go, or this is what I'm worried about. And distilling that in a, you know, like either via employee survey or a big data set, and then it can basically create a good strategy or include that in any strategic conversations it's having as well.
Speaker 3 (08:44):
This should be really, really simple. I feel like there's lots of studies out there that shows better communication drives better performances, basically as well. Like IBM do some research on this as a, um, super smart guy in HR called David Green, who literally puts out a weekly newsletter about this. That is, that basically goes, look, get better at surveying your staff and understand what they want, get better at communicating to them. And guess what? You'll probably have better resources and organization anyway. And from what I've just said, that seemed to sit with, with HR. I think the last thing that I wanted to say about comms is that essentially it's increasingly with so much change going on HR is, going to have to either tweak the way the organization works or roll out new programs or roll out new ways of working to respond to environmental changes.
Speaker 3 (09:35):
And that will only be successful if your staff buy into it. So, um, there's something called the, I guess it's the marketing mindset. You have to figure out a campaign around everything you're doing. You can't just go, well, we're going back to work from home, or we're rolling out this new platform. Cause people just don't buy into that at all. It's about understanding the way that that will resonate the most with your staff, and then creating some kind of like communication strategy around that. Um, BT did this at the start start of last year. They had to roll out a new way of communicating for all of their staff. And they were, you know, internally, they were really, really nervous about this, but they came up with this really HR and comms teams in tandem Well thought out campaign. And as a result, they're able to change everything super, super quickly. And that was because they focused on making the information around it, consistent, reliable, explaining why it would work to their employees and then linking it back to like the day to day practices that would benefit employees as well. So it's, I guess all of this changes, wraps up in businesses are gonna have to change. So therefore HR has to focus on like really, really getting its comms right. As a result.
Speaker 1 (10:42):
Yeah. I like that idea of having like a marketing mindset and kind of like having a story about why you're going to do things. Definitely. So I just wanna go back. So you said about like the two-way communication, like what actionable thing do you think we can say to people to say, this is how you can do that in 2022? So like your engagement surveys and your pulse surveys, would you recommend them as like the top two things?
Speaker 3 (11:09):
Yes. Yeah, I would. Um, and that's not me recommending them this, um, there's some very successful HR leaders who, you know, own companies that are global now and they say it is about that constant communication with staff. It's not just a temperature check one time a year. It is a full survey, but it can't be superficial. It has to like go a little, little deeper. Now, obviously that will look different depending on what the culture and the structure of your firm is, but understand how your me mechanisms within your firm is what they're saying. And then like dive deep into that. Or if you've recently rolled out a change, ask people how, how they respond to that have some clothes. So you can like have some quantifiables, but also have some opens as well. So you get a bit more anecdote as well. So yeah, I I'd hundred percent agree Victoria.
Speaker 1 (11:53):
Okay, perfect. Thank you.
Speaker 3 (11:56):
So I guess following on from the, um, marketing mindset, um, that I just talked about for comms is for this year HRS, probably going to have to think a little more deeply about how it positions itself as an employee of choice on the talent landscape. Um, there's a, there's a quite, there's a few simple whys around this. I feel so it's a, it's a time of massive change, obviously over the last two years. And I think that's resulted in individuals wanting a little bit more from the brand or the company that they, they work for. So it's no longer just about these simple exchanges. I give you my time and you give me some money as a wage. It say, do you look after me? Do you have a positive impact in the world? Are you a sustainable employer?
Speaker 3 (12:46):
Are you a socially conscious employer? These are some of the big questions that we are hearing get louder and louder, especially over the past two years. And I don't don't think they're gonna go away anytime soon, especially as the employer, employee dynamics change and you know, talent that is, that is sellable or individuals with a lot of skills that are desirable right now, they have a lot of power so they can drive some of this. Um, we've seen as well. And another reason that HR needs to focus on employer brands, uh, talent attraction, is getting a lot more difficult. Um, we all know it's a difficult, uh, jobs market at, at the moment. Uh, some of the, you know, economy wonks and people look at the data of this suggest that actually that's not gonna go away anytime soon that this is like for the long haul.
Speaker 3 (13:31):
So businesses are gonna have to think a bit more about how their position to, to, um, to job seekers. In fact, there's some research out there that says that actually the overwhelming, um, majority of job seekers are only likely to apply to a job if an employer is like actively managing its brand. So it is a really significant factor. Um, on the flip side of that is if you've miscalculated, how your brand sits, you can deter the candidates you want from, um, from applying to, um, I think increasingly as well, like consumer and employer brand are seen as one as the same, and this really resonates in the jobs market. So, um, if you have some like supply chain practices, you like, maybe you're not fair trade or something in a specific industry, or, um, you are known to say treat, have historically treated employees badly as well.
Speaker 3 (14:24):
I think that resonates a little bit more now.
Speaker 1 (14:26):
Speaker 3 (14:26):
And you know, if you're a smaller employee, um, employer, you probably can't take that risk right now because there'll be someone willing to shout about it on social media. It's a lot more difficult to just brush things under the carpet these days, like, um, pesky people, such as myself, that work in the media and journalism are probably going to be a bit more on your back about it because, you know, we follow, we follow these tweets and it's what we look out for all these Facebook posts. So it's making sure that, um, you're aware of every aspect of how, how your business works - employee treatment to like the day to day operations, how that forms part of your employer brand. I mentioned, um, as well as part of that, like, people want a lot more from their employers than just a paycheck these days.
Speaker 3 (15:16):
And that, that means that HRS probably gonna have to focus with, with the right people inside the company in evolving that employee brand as well. So, um, McKinsey last year, did some really, um, good work on this, I think, yeah, it was McKinsey and employees now expect their jobs to bring a significant sense of purpose yeah. To their, to their lives. Yeah. And if we put that within the pandemic, I think a lot of people had time to reflect. I know lots of people were burnt out and there was lots of horrible things going on, but maybe the, the change in, you know, working structures, some people suddenly had time to work from home so maybe they had the commute time to think or whatever it was, or it was just the big change that was happening to everybody. They got time to reflect on their purpose.
Speaker 1 (15:59):
Speaker 3 (15:59):
And as a result, I think a lot of people are reconsidering who they work for or, or reevaluating what work means to them. So they're probably going to be looking for a type of work that aligns more with, with their purpose or some of the things they care about in, in their life. So it means, I don't think it means that like HR should go out being like, oh, so we've got these employees that suddenly that care about X, therefore we should change our entire business to meet X. It's probably just being a bit more explicit about what you do stand for outside of making profit. And you'll probably get the right type of employees or attract the right type of person as a result for employers that do get this right. Um, again, there's loads of research on this. So if you are, you get an employee brand that resonates in the market and you get the right type of talent, you get better engagement, you get better retention of staff.
Speaker 3 (16:49):
Um, you get better, um, peer to peer recommended. Well, um, so yeah, it's generally a good thing if you focus the employer brands. I think a key thing to remember though, is that it constantly top down as well, like, as we were saying before Victoria, in comms, it's a two-way street thing. So if you're like, we're trying to create some values or a purpose outside of just existing as a company, um, include staff they're they, they, they do the day to day, they do the underground stuff. They might might be able to see something you can really like, kind of like hear yourself around. Um, there's a really good example of a, of an employer that does this well. So Salesforce who according to Glassdoor are the best employer in the UK right now rated by employees. And they really do focus on their employer brand.
Speaker 3 (17:34):
Um, they have really high pay, so that's really respected as well. So their employees or incoming talent is aware that they're going to be treated well. They're very aware of how the landscape is changing just in general life. So, um, they have changed benefits for transgender employees recently. They're very, very vocal on L G B T plus issues. Um, they actively seek out candidates from underrepresented backgrounds. They're aware of what skills they, they need, not just for this year and next year, but for 2030s as well. And what they do is create like programs for learning and stuff that, and, and they're very aware when they market themselves on the, um, yeah, in the employment marketplace that what they're doing internally resonates externally as well as someone that is very, very, very savvy with their employer brand. So I recommend looking at them if you, if, if you are in HR and looking to, to kind of like up your game a bit, um, for someone who gets it.
Speaker 1 (18:29):
I think, like you said, all of these things are very fluid because everything you're saying at the moment I'm like this definitely it's like this could be viewed as employee experience as well, right? Yeah,
Speaker 3 (18:40):
Yeah. 100%, 100%. And it's, I almost, I almost worry when I was, when I was thinking about this was like, actually everything that I'm saying for each of these sections, even though I don't think I've picked to employee experience is one of them it's all just underpinned by employee experience. Yeah. Like, so,
Speaker 1 (18:54):
Yeah. And it's interesting with Glassdoor now, cuz I know if you go to apply to any job, I think now it's like an underwritten rule you'll look on Glassdoor immediately first. So it's just completely transparent in that sense.
Speaker 3 (19:08):
Yeah. And this is what I was saying. And, and this, you know, actually dovetails are really, really nice with the, with the third thing that I, I was thinking actually is gonna be a big thing for HR this year, which is talent acquisition. Um, so actually many, much, much, much crossover with what I've just said for employer brand, because for me, and I think for many in HR, they see employer brand clear as a talent acquisition tool. Um, even though it reflects, you know, the employee experience inside the company you're working at, but obviously there's been countless headlines in the past six months about how hard it is to acquire the talent that you need or keep the talent that you need or supply demand difficulties as well. Um, but I think those are some of the top lines and lots of interesting details that are happening underneath that.
Speaker 3 (19:53):
I think HR and I know many in HR already are, um, earnestly aware of and trying to figure out some fixes too as well. So, um, you know, within increasing numbers of people doing remote and hybrid work, I think the fact that like everything from applying for a job to even on to onboarding or to interviewing then onboarding, then taking the role, you might never actually meet an employer face to face for a lot of people now. And that's a massive change to the talent acquisition process. Um, I think the characteristics of what people of talent acquisition process as well are changing. So it's not just a supply demand issue any more with there are literally more vacancies open than there are people to fill the more people willing to fill them right now mm-hmm <affirmative> but a what employers, employees are demanding as we just spoke about before Victoria.
Speaker 3 (20:44):
So, um, they want purpose, they want an empathetic employer. They want a, um, you know, an employer that puts wellbeing of social issues at the top of the agenda. So it's no longer just looking for a role of thinking, oh, that's a step up or that pays slightly more than my last role I'll apply because I've done X number of years and I need, I need a change. Um, so I think it is, is a massively changing L obviously that top line is, as, as I said, is that, um, you know, hiring because of the, you know, quote the great resignation, um, and also the difficulty in getting talent, um, is, is top of the agenda. I think the CEOs at the moment is the number one concern, despite all these other things going on. The, um, so as a result, I think that's, that's created a few interesting changes in, in the, in the hiring landscape that I think many in HR probably are aware of already.
Speaker 3 (21:37):
Um, I think part of that driving of change is, as we said, um, increasingly people want their employees to have a purpose, um, I don't want to group whole demographics together, but millennial it's, it's quite useful to sometimes millennials, um, overwhelmingly now that they're a big cohort in the, in the working age population, they want their employers to be making a positive difference in the, in the world. And they're saying it's vital that the values of the business, they work for match their own. So for me, that's say pretty much nailed on, you got to have some sense of, we exist for more than just, you know, giving shareholders lots of cash at the end, end of the year. It seems like
Speaker 2 (22:16):
It seems like that obviously COVID has been quite a catalyst for this whole change in the working environment. But do you think that, you know, it would've come about anyway with this kind of change in the generations that are coming through and COVIDs kind of been a support with the change that's kind of had to be put in place?
Speaker 3 (22:34):
Yeah, it's really interesting. So the sta well, like the study that I'm I'm referencing there was from American express and that was in 2019. So they were saying it's, it was important just before the pandemic. But what I think the pandemic has done is like either reinforce or sped up everything that was happening. So maybe those millennials or just any employee, cause I think it can happen for whatever age group you are, who might have thought, I really want my employer to be purposeful, or I really want to do some work that makes like a really positive difference in the world. They might've thought, ah, there's not that much opportunity or I, I don't really know. And maybe they've had time to reflect over the pandemic cause everything changed. And they were like, actually I really want to take that move or make the jump or, or whatever it is. And maybe employers, because of, because of this, they're then having to react to that and go, actually we do now exist for this or we do have some purpose and values. So I think, yeah, you're right in saying Scott, that it might not have happened, but it's, or it might not have happened to such an extent or be so obvious now. And it, it seems that we're in agreement that you're just so obvious that this is now the state of play for a lot of people. Definitely
Speaker 1 (23:43):
I'm interested for the next section technology.
Speaker 3 (23:46):
Uh, so yeah, technology as, as another thing that I think HR will have to focus on, um, there's so much to say here as well. Cause I guess technology's been a refrain from the past couple of years where like obviously tech came the way of working for a lot of people. Cause they suddenly there was like a work from home mandate if you could. So it changed everything. I think it's a bit wider than just say, how do I do my job from a remote setting though? Or what kind of tools do we need for hybrid, even though that's gonna be really important. I think we're gonna talk more and more about, um, automation and AI again and how that might get rid of some of the traditional jobs and like change the type of talent you might need to get, need to get into your business.
Speaker 3 (24:26):
I do you employ the admin assistant that you've had for years because actually that job could free up free up some time and space. If it could be just be done by a platform or something like that. And then what does that mean? Does that mean actually you can give everyone like a four day week in your, in your business because you know, some of the, some, some of the jobs can be automated or does it there will mean, does it mean is gonna be loads of people outta work? Cause they no longer have the skills to like do the jobs that exist now. So I think that's a really, really interesting question. I think there's also a really big question around the pandemic, forced people to go digital, even if they didn't want to or sped up loads of digital transformation. I think it was one of the big consultancies.
Speaker 3 (25:02):
One of the CEOs there was saying like what would've taken like 10 years was done in a week.
Speaker 1 (25:07):
Speaker 3 (25:07):
When it comes to digital transformation and that's not gonna slow down like loads of loads of like clever people in the tech space are just saying the Tech's getting faster and faster. The, the world's work is changing quicker and quicker and quicker and same for business. So what skills do businesses need to get in to adapt to this world, which is changing all the time and, and increasingly digital. Um, and it can be really difficult to figure that out, right? Because like again, some really smart people, they say like technology is a tool to get you where you want to go. It's not the endgame in itself. So there's loads of noise around like blockchain and crypto and NFTs in the cloud and all these things at the moment.
Speaker 3 (25:47):
And it can be really exciting or tempting for a business to be like, Ooh, I'll, I'll, I'll get, or start, I'll start doing some stuff in that space, but it, it really doesn't help you or your business itself. Um, and what I think HR needs to do there is actually become an advocate for both the business and the people and say, okay, so with all this change that's going, which is just noise that we need to cut out. And then the technology that we do use what's the impact on the people and the structures of work that we, that we do have. So, um, does the technology improve work? Does it improve things that work is really want such as trust, engagement, communication, collaboration? So these are like the B HR questions that it's and HRS gonna have to get involved with, um, when they're looking at what technology they're using or where they're going on that digital journey.
Speaker 3 (26:37):
Um, I think, you know, we, we talked about it as well earlier, Victoria, the employee experience. So how does the technology impact your employee experience? So 2020 lots of people forced to go digital. It was like, you know, sticking plasters in lots of places and that the tech might have been used. But now we know remote hybrid cloud based working is here for the long term. So it's about making more strategic decisions and maybe reflecting on some of the tech decisions that have been made thinking through the people lens through the business lens. And how does it all work together? Mm-hmm <affirmative> and maybe holding leaders a bit to account as well. Like this is what really surprised me when I was doing some research around this subject that leaders overwhelmingly think that the technology they use is creating a really good business and employee experience, but workers don't think that's the case as well.
Speaker 3 (27:24):
So maybe it's a bit of that comms thing as, as well and leading in with here and asking them workers, what their frustrations are, what the tech that they've got on offer is like, how does it impact their ability to do their job or grow their career or learn new skills, um, because that's gonna be super, super important if you want to be a successful business and employer of choice. Um, and I think there's a, there's a, a, a third piece here around what is going to increase digital uptake and digital skills uptake in, in your company as well. So again, it's probably around the messaging thing. So employees are more likely to want to digitally upscale or become a early tech adopters in your company, or just adopt the tech that you want 'em to, if you sell it to in term, sell it to them in terms that they care about.
Speaker 3 (28:11):
So it will make their work life more efficient. It will free up some of the more, more of their time for better work. It will offer them long term security. It will give them, you know, better status. I E a better job role if they get ahead of this and they can get promoted. So you can't just say it's because the business needs or because of another change that just won't cut it anymore. So I think HRs messaging around tech is gonna have to get a lot, lot better too. And then, you know, like all the other standard things around that as well, um, cyber security, data practice, all the things that have become a bit more difficult over the past two years.
Speaker 1 (28:42):
Speaker 3 (28:42):
You know, cause it was rushed through being a bit more okay lets neaten up the edges and make that a bit better because it can be quite scary, especially for some legal areas that crosses into, uh, some of the fines that you can get there if you mess it up.
Speaker 1 (28:55):
Yeah. Thank you for that. And the final trend.
Speaker 3 (28:59):
Um, I guess this is a, uh, a more, uh, existential one for HR. I think HR after really, really hectic two years, um, where it went above and beyond time and time again, and really showed itself to be such a crucial and central business function is now probably going to ha have, um, have a bit of time to reflect on what is my role in the, in the business going forward? What is my strategic, um, position? So HR traditionally, I think many people listened to podcast will know has always been like a support function. It did admin tasks. It did a bit bit of like, yeah, you are, you are onboarding your recruitment, your payroll, um, really crucial things. You have to get those things right. But over, over the years, it's taken on more and more and more, and it it's become a lot more than that recently.
Speaker 3 (29:49):
So, um, in the last 10 years, people have talked about splitting the function out. So one is a bit more like strategic and thinks of like the big picture. Like what does the purpose of work mean for my employees? Or like, how can I provide really good data to the board so they can make really good people and business decisions and then something which is a bit more historical, a bit more we'll do the admin. We'll do the day to day operations. We'll take on board the complaints and do, you know, put up the job ads again, stuff that's really, really important, but is a bit different to some of those like big ticket strategically abstract issues. What I think we've seen during the pandemic is HR get a lot more respected for the former because everything became about people at the start of the pandemic.
Speaker 3 (30:34):
And it was, you know, guess what HR that looks after people. So it's probably sped at that process where HR was being thought of as a bit more than just say, oh, you guys do the payroll and put up the job ads and take complaints if we've got one. So, um, we did a well at HR grapevine at the end of 2020. We did long read called Why HR? We basically looked at why was everyone turning to HR during the pandemic and not the other, um, not the other functions and a thing as a lot of HR commentators at the time. Um, Josh Bersin amongst them were saying it's because the pandemic was a, um, a people crisis, not, not an economics crisis. Yeah. So you had to look after your people first because that would actually ensure that your business kept on functioning as a, as a result.
Speaker 3 (31:20):
So it was a about making sure they had the tech to work from home, making sure they were safe, checking in on their wellbeing and their mental wellbeing a little bit more. And it was HR that was often, you know, at the center of this and as everything changed about work, I think a lot of people that outside of HR realized how important and how central everything might have been a bit invisible and structural it and, but was looked after by HR was so it was like, okay, so what do the structure works mean? Should I be more flexible? Should I be less flexible? How do I make sure that my working parents are okay? Are we forgetting this type of person? So I think actually that's put HR bit more at the front and center. And if we couple that with what employee are like expecting from their employers these days, so they want more, more psychological support.
Speaker 3 (32:11):
They, that they want, uh, more purpose. They want to work for an employee that's empathetic and looks after their wellbeing. Again, things that HR might be best place to look after you could, in my eyes, it makes sense that boards might be looking at HR and being like, actually you're really central to the directors, like the future of this business and helping shape where we go and for HR, the savvier, um, more business minded people in the function or those at the top of the function might be thinking, there's a really great opportunity to kind of like reframe what we do here. Or even if we don't reframe what we do. Cause we were saying this stuff anyway, put ourselves a bit more front and center and take heart from the fact that we were really relied on in the pandemic. And actually none of that stuff is going away.
Speaker 3 (32:56):
Like there are gonna be big crises going up, you know, that that's the CEO survey that I referenced earlier. Mm-hmm, <affirmative> lots of uncertainty, lots of change. Maybe not as like acutely dangerous as the pandemic, but like big in terms of what it will do to businesses. So there's an opportunity for HR to be, to be front and center, um, and to probably be a bit more leading within the business. Um, we've got the CEO of the C I P D who told, told HR Grapevine a couple of years ago that he thinks HR can become the leading function in the business. Um, Chanel have just, um, promote, not promoted, hired. So that's the right wored hired the, um, the, the head of HR at Unilever to be the next CEO, which I think reflects this change in the jobs market where it's actually everything that HR does is now what we need to focus on as businesses to be successful. So it's like all these little indications to me that actually HR has this opportunity to become the leading function in the business or to be a bit louder and a bit more, um, confident in its own voice in the business environment.
Speaker 2 (33:58):
This is like the HR kind of going from that project mindset to more of a product focus mindset, almost with it kind of delivering value and being an ongoing kind of, you know, um, target. But you, well not target an ongoing product that you need to monitor and check in on like, you know, us with your people with, through these pulse surveys and it's yeah, it seems like there are big strides for that to happen kind of across the board in all industries.
Speaker 3 (34:26):
Yeah. 100%. Um, and I think, I think that product focus as well is, is gonna be really, really crucial. And maybe as a result, you know, like I've just been very, very nice about HR, but I, I, I do believe Scott, the, there are some improvements to be made there. So showing how it delivers that value, getting better data. Um, I read a really good description. I can't remember what it was a couple of weeks ago that basically said, um, you can't just go get away anymore with saying, you know, in HR that, oh, we, we partnered with this TA function and we put some job ads up, but we don't really know how it did or like we did this scheme, but we think it made people a bit happier at work. Like if you worked in marketing and went to your CEO and we're like, oh, we did this ad campaign, but we don't really know if it resulted an uptick in sales. Yeah. You'd probably be fired or laughed out the room. So I think it's maybe speaking in a little bit more businessy terms and, and showing the value that it adds that it's gonna really show the rest of the business or like those are the top that HR does get what it's talking about and everything it does do has an impact that is positive.
Speaker 2 (35:30):
I guess that also kinda ties back into the technology from what HR needs, my kind of more of a scientific approach for, you know, being able to gather that data and then approach people and say, well, actually we've done this on a small scale. We can now do it on a larger scale and that type.
Speaker 3 (35:45):
Yeah, yeah, definitely like, um, being iterative and experi, you know, having the conference do experiment a little bit more is definitely refrains that I've, that I've heard time and time again in conversation over the past couple of years. So yeah.
Speaker 1 (35:58):
So in a nutshell, how can we encompass all of these trends and how can businesses try to get into the mindset of thinking about these trends and how they can overcome them as we go into the new year? So
Speaker 3 (36:13):
I think one use way of doing that is maybe to not focus a on just one area, but maybe ask the question whenever you are looking at changing something, whether it's, you know, finding a new technology partner, changing your digital processes, uh, creating a new, uh, campaign because you are, you're creating a new program, whether it's learning or different structure of work thinking, how does this affect my people in the business and what does it mean for their employee experience? Because I think what's been shown time and time again, especially over the past two years, is that whatever happens to your employees, correlates with what happens to your business. And that's what HR ultimately is gonna be judged on.
Speaker 1 (36:55):
Amazing. Thank you, Daniel. And thank you joining us today on Comms In A Nutshell, and thank you to all the listeners at home.