Looking Forward: What are the HR Priorities in 2019?
HR priorities and challenges for 2019–How do they align with your organization’s priorities for the coming year?
We’re now well on our way into another year, and as you set your intentions/goals for 2019, it’s also a good time to think about how the HR challenges and priorities for the coming year apply to your organization.
Recruitment & Retention
In many respects, nothing has changed here. Baby Boomers are still retiring at a rapid rate. The experienced talent gap is growing wider. The cost of living in BC continues to rise. And employees are looking for more (more development, opportunity, flexibility, money, etc.). Additionally, in many industries and for many positions, it’s currently a candidate’s market. For these reasons, intentional, clear and culture/business-aligned recruitment practices are increasingly more important, as are capacity building and succession planning. In other words, we need to think about talent acquisition, not just from the perspective of bringing in new external candidates, but also about how we’re going to retain them, as well as existing employees, after they’re hired.
Growth and Development
As the above noted talent gap widens, and organizations focus on training their less experienced employees and addressing their succession plans, the need for intentional (not just ad-hoc) mentoring and development is increasing. Ratings based, backward looking performance reviews and evaluation programs have been under attack for decades, for good reason. Now more than ever, organizations need to look forward and develop their people accordingly.
Stereotypically (and yes, they are stereotypes!), it is said that Boomers want more stability and Millennials want more flexibility. In fact, most employees of all ages and circumstances want some degree of flexibility. While it’s true that many younger employees are looking to freelance and supplement gigs and part-time work, as older employees make the transition towards retirement, they too are seeking the same. Thus, in addition to the need to hire and retain the right people for the right roles, more employers are looking towards alternatives to full-time, permanent, employment agreements (i.e. term placements, independent contracts/freelance, part-time positions, job-shares, remote work, etc.).
Understanding and Addressing Unconscious Bias
Respectful workplace policies and programs have gained steady traction in most industries, particularly since the introduction of bullying and harassment legislation under WorkSafe BC. In the last few years, the focus has increasingly and positively spread to include diversity, equity and inclusion. Additionally, the #metoo movement will undoubtedly continue to have an impact on the workplace. The lens is now turning towards the impact of unconscious bias on all of these areas. Unconscious biases are unintentional perceptions or beliefs formed by stereotypes that are often expressed by automatically categorizing skills and roles based on an employee’s gender, race, sexual orientation, and/or other attributes.
Related to the above is the increasing importance of training employees on their responsibilities and the role they play in helping prevent and mitigate inappropriate behaviour in the workplace. It’s no longer enough to simply be compliant. As organizations focus on a culture of pro-respect (rather than simply anti-harassment), they will also need to spend more time promoting the employee’s role in proactively promoting respect and preventing harassment.
While lessening in some respects, stigma still exists for many who suffer from a mental illness or problem. This is despite the statistic that at least 1 in 5 Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year (CMHA). This, in turn, has a significant impact on the workplace, not just from the perspective of policies around reasonable accommodation, but more importantly, with respect to a culture of acceptance. Increasingly, workplaces not only have a legal obligation to reasonably accommodate those impacted by mental illness, but also from a purely humanistic perspective, a moral and ethical obligation to focus on a culture of mental wellness.
Robust HR tech systems have been historically reserved for the medium to large, highly progressive and/or technology focused industries. Yet, as more and more options become available for all types and sizes of organizations, they are increasingly becoming a smart and cost-effective option for HR. This may be as simple as an easy to use, online, leave-tracking system, or as advanced as the use of Artificial Intelligence to recruit, the latter of which is slowly gaining traction, particularly in larger, multi-national organizations.
Last, but not least… Engagement impacts and is impacted by all of the above and then some, and dare we say, should be a “no-brainer” in the workplace. But what does it really mean to engage employees? This question continues to be on the minds of employers, and the HR challenge is to help them understand what engagement means for their particular organization.
While each new year sees new trends, priorities and challenges, and certain areas will be impacted by changing legislation, population demographics, and the like, ultimately, the most important HR priorities for your organization should be determined by your own unique needs and challenges. Stay tuned in the coming months for more in-depth discussions and these topics and more.