What organisations should look out for in the new year
Over the last few years organisations have been heavily influenced by external factors on the way they manage their people.
In 2024 these social, political, economic, technological, and legal factors will continue to have an influence. Organisations and its people will be impacted by the upcoming election, inflation, the continued cost of living crisis and international instability, just to name a few,. But a main focus for workplaces is the driving force of employee expectations which seems to have shifted greatly since Covid. As 2024 is getting closer there is a lot for HR to prepare for. So, here are some topics and trends to consider over the next 12 months.
People focused organisations
We can see from the new employment laws changes coming into effect in 2024 (see our latest employment law guide) a lot of which are very people centric. These changes along with skills shortages mean retention is as important as ever, HR within organisations should be considering how to make themselves the ‘employer of choice’. Start with reviewing and updating our existing policies and procedures to ensure they not only comply with the changes in employment law, but align with employee expectations.
Going into the new year we should be looking at giving employees a reason why they should work for you, whilst considering the tightening purse strings. How can we meet these social and environmental expectations of employees and limit costs? You may consider allowing staff time off to volunteer or could you look at using local suppliers?
Due to the influences of Covid, working from home and more socially conscious employees mean there are greater expectations of employers, beyond just a salary. People have started and will continue to look for employers where diversity and inclusion, social responsibility etc are well supported.
Linkedin’s Workplace Learning Report 2023 found that 3 of the top 5 driving forces influencing employees to pursue new jobs are linked to their want to develop and grow. However, it might not be possible to allow people to travel up, as the workforce is continuing to be multigenerational, and people are remaining in posts longer. So, in 2024, organisations should think laterally, you could meet this need by allowing employees to have different experiences in different areas of the business.
Furthermore, with confirmation that the right to request flexible working will become a day one right for employees. As newer generations enter employment, who are used to remote learning from school and university, balanced with those who prefer a more structured work environment, we should continue to look into offering more flexibility in where and how we work to meet all these expectations.
Returning to the office
A significant number of organisations have adopted a hybrid working policy, but there is a lot in the media about many pushing for a return the office in some capacity or another.
There are many benefits to retuning to the office from the social aspect of work to more natural collaborative working but home working made a huge difference to the access of work for so many. If an organisation just starts insisting staff return to the office, is it just going to negatively impact morale, motivation, and could result in staff losses?
So, moving forward rather than just mandating a return we should be asking what makes the office better than working from home? What can the office offer that the home can’t? Does it have to be every day or set days, or can this be fluid? And can we make a more social/collaborative work environment? What do our employees want? Considering all these we are much more likely to get the employees to buy in to return to the office.
Retaining Talent – learning and development and upskilling
All though it has slowed down somewhat, vacancies are still higher than pre-covid according to the Office of National Statistics. Organisations are still struggling to recruit staff with the skills they need especially in hospitality, childcare, health and social care and staff retention is also a big issue.
With organisations finding it difficult to recruit from the external market, they could start looking internally to fill that skills gap.
In 2024, HR should be helping their organisation analyse what work is planned, what skills are required to meet that demand, where the gaps are and how to fill them. Organisations should be looking at the continuous learning, so their workforce is continually evolving their skills to meet demand. One way to do this is matching workers to skills rather than the job they are employed to do and assigning them work that falls outside the work they normally duties. Not only could this improve job satisfaction, (therefore retention) but it makes an organisation more adaptable and helps fill those skill gaps without the expense of recruiting externally.
A final consideration in this area for HR is how people learn as remote working is more commonplace, meaning shadowing a mentor or face to face training is less practical. You may consider a suit of ‘on-demand’ material which staff can assess in their own time if they want to expand their knowledge or more individualised training programs for an employee for example.
Last but not least, the ‘living’ handbook
Policies are not just written once and that’s it, going in to 2024 we will realise more than ever our policies must be continually review and update to ensure they are legally compliant, align with the organisations values, changes in attitude and expectations. They should grow and evolve.
It’s not enough to just have policies in the employee handbook or elsewhere saying that you do all the above, from a legal point of view if you do not follow a policy, you have or you do not enforce a policy this could get you in hot water in tribunal and you could found vicariously liable for actions of an employee. It will also appear disingenuous to your workforce; therefore, it is important to ensure that the leaders are championing the policies, that training is provided on appropriate workplace behaviour and expectations of staff, that policies are followed, and they are regularly assessed.
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