With the UK economy experiencing the lowest economic growth since 2009, Caryl Thomas director of the HR Dept Cardiff, Newport and Monmouth believes that the people aspect of any organisation will matter more than ever in the year ahead. The reason: people are at the core of any successful business and growing or changing the culture fundamentally in challenging times revolves around people and professional relationships. Having worked with several international organisations over the past 15 years, Thomas believes a renewed focus on making HR more “human” goes a long way in keeping people motivated and now is the perfect time to refocus on people matters. With this in mind, she explores the top trends to look out for in 2020.
- Demand for increased productivity
Whilst the service sector expanded by 0.2% over the period August to October, the manufacturing sector contracted by 0.7% and the construction sector by 0.3%. Organisations in these sectors are likely to face increased pressure to improve productivity and embrace a more diverse workforce to help realise real change. At the same time, organisations will have to be more agile as we consider Industry 4.0 and look at different business strategies to innovate and grow with digital at the core. This will mean looking at people development and learning differently with HR playing an increasingly active role in shaping flexible training plans to maintain team satisfaction at all levels of seniority as well as overall team retention levels.
- Online recruitment grows
With people having greater choice than ever on where and how they want to work, organisations need to up their game when it comes to attracting the best candidates, especially online. Constantly evolving technology means that there needs be continued allocation and increased budget for upskilling in areas such as best practice around online recruitment marketing, including voice search recruitment thanks to advancements in this technology. This is already being introduced by international organisations like McDonald’s and it’s likely to grow in 2020. The HR team is well placed in positioning the organisation online based on its thorough understanding of the organisation’s values and culture and should, therefore, look to stay up to date with the opportunities available.
- Focus on embracing diversity
With an evolving economy demanding a diverse range of skills, the HR team of any organisation will also be more likely than ever before to push for a more diverse workforce – after all, this is key to long-term success for businesses of all sizes. This will include the need for robust processes to prevent aspects such as unconscious bias occurring when it comes to recruitment (especially through online channels), as these can lead to additional costs both financially and reputationally. Often calls for diversity simply refer to gender-specific issues, but I’d like to see greater diversity across all sectors regardless of race, gender or disability in 2020.
- Promote a culture of reward
Many organisations already offer an incredible array of staff incentives and rewards with investment in this area growing by 31% in 2018/2019. Yet these are often not fully understood by team members or valued in the way that they should be. The HR function needs to get better at actively promoting how team players are encouraged and rewarded whether that’s through financial incentives, time-off or “sweet-treat” Fridays. Not only do these play an important role in building team morale, but happy employees are far more likely to project a positive representation of your organisation in the wider public sphere – a significant benefit in a world driven by social media.
- Active encouragement of volunteering
There are thousands of volunteers actively helping in all areas from grassroots sport to promoting STEM across Wales and the rest of the UK. Whilst this demonstrates incredible personal commitment and character, organisations can also make use of this to recognise and reward team members. This could include offering paid time off for volunteering as an employee benefit, helping that 53% of under 35s who want to volunteer more than they do to achieve their goals. Aside from making it possible for team members to use their skills or add new ones, volunteering can serve as a powerful incentive for those people looking for more than their wage or salary to join your team or organisation; and boost staff wellbeing and reputation. 43% of under 35s who already volunteer cite volunteer schemes and incentives as playing in a key role in influencing their charitable good deeds, so businesses must recognise the positive impact that they could have in 2020 and beyond.
- Technology and Artificial Intelligence play a greater role
Technology has an important role to play in making many time-consuming tasks easier to perform and although the need for human contact can never be replaced when dealing with people issues, I predict that there will be greater developments in 2020. Technology and Artificial Intelligence come into their own when it comes to areas such as chatbots, application tracking systems and screening software, yet data security remains of paramount importance. For this reason, I believe that training will play a role in understanding and using technology whilst safeguarding data security across the board to protect your team and your clients.