The world of work is rapidly changing, and the HR role must change along with it. HR professionals are becoming health and wellbeing administrators, employee engagement and retention specialists, remote work facilitators, and people data analysts, among other things. There’s no doubt about it: this is a challenging time to be in HR.
Three-fourths of workers depend on their employer for support in preparing for the future of work. Here’s how organizations can support HR professionals to prepare for the skills of the future.
Create a learning culture
Workers say the top two things that would help them learn more effectively are dedicated time at work for training and more personalized learning that’s aligned with their career paths. Take time during employee onboarding to discuss career aspirations, set goals, and create development plans for each HR professional.
Create a learning culture in which everyone—including HR professionals—feels enabled to learn the skills of the future. Everyone learns differently, so offer multiple routes to learn new skills. This might include a learning management system or a stipend to use for conferences, associations, or coaching. HR teams of one, in particular, can benefit from networking with fellow HR professionals so they can bounce ideas off their peers and learn from others’ experiences.
Offer team members time away from their normal duties to learn, actively encourage them to do so, and follow up after the fact to see what they’ve learned. This can encourage ongoing learning and development, benefiting both HR team members and your organization.
Hire a diverse HR team
A diverse HR team is better equipped to find creative solutions that serve internal customers. For instance, a parent on the team can advocate for better family benefits. A Black HR professional can share ways to better engage and retain talent from marginalized groups. And two people with different educational backgrounds and work experiences can come together to look at People data in new ways.
Diversity can mean hiring people from vulnerable communities, such as people with disabilities, the formerly incarcerated, the neurodiverse community, and veterans. It may also mean hiring people from different schools or companies, particularly if the schools or companies you typically hire from aren’t very diverse. You may bond with a candidate over an alma mater or want to hire a former colleague from a past role, but consider how diversifying your team across many planes can create more diversity of thought. A nonbinary veteran with an associates degree may approach challenges and opportunities very differently than an older worker with an MBA—and that’s a good thing. It allows HR professionals to learn from one another and continue to grow professionally.
Keep diversity in mind as you backfill vacated positions or build out your team of internal and external experts. Even if you’re an HR team of one, focusing on diversity in the rest of your organization can provide you with different perspectives, opinions, and feedback to help you adapt for the new world of work.
Engage your team members
The skills you need to excel in the “next normal” can vary by organization and team. It’s important to keep an ear to the ground so you know where to focus your attention and efforts. For example, a company that’s allowing remote work for the first time may need more HR guidance in that area—particularly if team members haven’t worked remotely elsewhere. Learning about remote inclusion, how to measure the remote employee experience, and which tools support remote workforces can smooth the transition for everyone.
Send surveys and hold one-on-ones to actively ask team members what they need and how you can better support them. Learn what the HR teams at their past companies did to support them. For instance, 88 percent of employers are investing more in mental health in the post-pandemic world—though those programs can look very different at each organization. Take the time to learn about ways to promote mental health care. Some companies offer a wellness stipend for team members to use as they wish, while a more recent trend is offering company-wide mental health days (or weeks) for everyone to recharge.
Engaging team members for input can result in valuable feedback for HR professionals, and strengthen the entire organization.
The future of work has come about more quickly than anyone anticipated, and HR professionals have risen to the challenges. Continued development and growth will be important as we continue this transformation and come across new obstacles and opportunities. HR professionals should take the time to learn from a variety of sources, including live events, videos, peers, and non-HR professionals. This well-rounded approach will lead to the most successful outcomes in the new world of work.