As organizations worldwide carve a path for a post-pandemic future, HR leaders are considering priorities for the next several years. In addition to providing direction and focus, the trends in priorities that HR leaders identified in a recent Gartner survey also reveal some unique opportunities to shape their companies into productive and satisfying places to work.Here are six ways that HR leaders can help shape their companies in 2022 and beyond:
Connect organizational design and transformation to company identity
“In a lot of the HR roundtable discussions I’ve had recently, I’ve heard a lot of ‘Who are we anymore?’” says Tyra Bremer, Director, Business Development and Executive Consultant. “What does our organizational design look like? What does our future culture look like? How do we manage change?’” As companies adapt to new models of working and work through changes, HR has a chance to connect those initiatives to corporate identity and perhaps make a shift toward a more positive culture that emphasizes new or revised values.
Look for ways to keep your institutional knowledge
As companies grapple with the Great Resignation and ongoing talent shortages, HR leaders can drive efforts to hold onto institutional knowledge. “I see companies really need to figure out ways to quickly share knowledge with the next generation of leaders,” says Edward Keyes who leads Stewart Leadership’s West Coast office. “There’s a focus on doing more with less and being really efficient, and part of that is sharing institutional knowledge.”
Focus on developing the leadership bench
HR leaders can help expand leadership training and development to everyone within the company. “A lot of programs are preparing that next level of leader, whether they are high potential or not,” says Erin Ellis, Executive Consultant and Coach. “But a lot of companies are also saying, ‘hey, we may need this for everybody.’”
Upskill your internal people
More than just developing your leadership bench, companies should be upskilling their current teams as well, especially on the technical side. “I was familiar with a company who basically said they didn’t help their IT people stay current, so they had to let them all go and hire new people who had the right skills,” says Taura Prosek, Director, Business Development and Executive Coach. “They didn’t like it, but it was too little, too late.” Make sure your technical teams get the training and education they need to stay current on necessary skills.
Help the company become comfortable with dynamic reality
The last two years have taught us that “normal” is constantly in flux and that what works one day may need to be adapted the next. “Keep in mind that you’re never going to get to a place that’s static, and you need to accept the dynamic reality of who we are,” says Daniel Stewart, President.
After two years of functioning around a pandemic, almost everyone is dealing with some level of exhaustion. HR teams can help teams avoid burnout and encourage recovery by emphasizing both self-care and empathetic leadership. “We’ve had pressure and stress on organizations that I don’t think we’ve seen for a long time in such a broad way,” says Nolan Godfrey, Regional Director and Executive Consultant. “I think this is why we’re seeing a resurgence of this concept of resilience. And a lot of the things we’re talking about are both individual and organizational.”
“Our brains operate exactly like a battery, and if you are not charging your brain, you end up in fatigue and burnout,” says Tyra Bremer. “Our brains recharge by letting our minds wander.” Many people have not had the time or space to simply rest and let their minds wander in these past two years, and they may need that.
“The thought is, ‘well, we need to invest in leaders because the leaders are the ones who are going to build the culture and retain people,’” says David Thurston, Director, Business Development and Executive Consultant. “And I see a lot of people come out of the roundtables with a kind of exhaustion around COVID. They want to put something in place, but everyone is tired.”
As companies face this unique time of rebuilding, setting priorities and pursuing initiatives is necessary. Strong HR leaders shouldn’t miss the opportunities within those priorities to shape a robust and human-centric company that’s well-equipped with the knowledge and skills to grow for the long term.