The Top 5 Priorities for HR Leaders Today

With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine up to speed, organizational leaders, particularly the HR team, have been plunged into the leadership limelight. Now more than ever, human resource leaders are expected by their companies to streamline the workforce’s alignment with the ‘new post-Covid working normals’ and the organizations’ strategic business. 

What’s more, is that HR is to ensure employees return to a safe and healthy work environment in the face of the ongoing pandemic. The point is, since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, HR leaders have not only played center roles in our organizations but their responsibilities and duties have also evolved considerably. 

Well, this leads us to the question of; what are the current priorities for HR leaders? Fortunately, we’ve got that covered! Here are the top 5 2021 HR priorities: 

1. Building Critical Skills and Competencies

Gartner, a global research and consultative body, recently surveyed more than 800 HR leaders and their top priority now is building critical skills and competencies for their organizations. It’s not a surprise that up to 68 percent of HR leaders cited this as their number one objective for this year, since workplace requirements have continued to evolve with emerging skills and needs of the modern business environment. 

In fact, another study by Gartner found out that 58% of the workforce will need new skills to successfully complete their jobs. We are now seeing massive automation solutions, gigification of work, remote working, revitalized e-commerce, and hybrid work models in our workplaces. Some employees have also moved into new roles as a result of layoffs and virtual work. 

So, looking at the future, HR leaders will need to take on dynamic approaches in reskilling their workforces and recruiting new talent. This will go a long way in meeting the evolving skills needed and ultimately closing the skills gap in your employees. 

2. Working Design and Change Management

One of the lessons we’ve learned from the outbreak of Covid-19 is the need to quickly adapt and respond to any emerging changes. HR leaders must now ensure that their organizations can effectively respond and adapt to the constant business disruptions, like the current scenario of the pandemic. 

Working design and change management as one of the top objectives for HR can be attributed to the fact that organizations have long been reliant on rigid processes, structures, operations, and role designs. However, HR and organizational leaders at large are encouraged to manage a flexible workplace to meet the fast-changing needs and conditions. 

Organizations with agility and flexibility over where, when, and how employees work can significantly prevent change fatigue, unlock workforce responsiveness, and ultimately manage change effectively. And despite most organization managers’ view that in-office workers are more productive than remote workers, studies have shown that full-time remote workers are 5% more likely to be high-performers than their in-office counterparts. 

3. Current and Future Organization Leadership

In the above-mentioned survey by Gartner, HR leaders pointed to current and future leadership bench strength as their third most important priority as only 44 percent of employees stated that they trust their organizations’ leaders and managers to pull through a crisis well. It’s also reported that up to 87% of companies aren’t confident that they have a strong leadership bench for the future. 

With these numbers, it only necessitates the question of how executive coaching may come in handy. In essence, coaching may just be the missing gap for creating strong leadership that’s necessary for organizations to become and remain competitive even in the unforeseeable future. 

Lack of diversity among the leadership has been attributed to be the cause of mistrust in most organizations’ leadership. This comes at a time when diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) have been a concern for the public, employees, and even employers. So to build strong and reliable leadership for tomorrow, HR needs to induce diversity in their culture and also look into coaching. 

4. Future of Work

The concern for critical skills and competencies isn’t a new problem for HR leaders – bridging the skills gap has been a long-standing issue for most organizations. Apart from the digital transformations and tech automation, the Covid-19 pandemic is going to have a long-lasting effect on the future of work. 

And even as organizations continue to embrace remote working and hybrid work models, more complexities are going to arise. For instance, in managing a remote workforce, reskilling a virtual team will generate new demands from HR leaders. 

So the point is, HR needs to look at and measure the impact that Covid-19 and other realignments have had on their strategies and plans, and what actions and adjustments they need to take in response to that. Identifying future work designs and trends that are relevant to the business will be imperative. 

5. Employee Experience and Wellbeing

Closing the list of the top 5 HR priorities is providing a better employee experience. Since the start of the pandemic, HR leaders have realized how essential it is to support employees amid pandemic distresses. From the fear of contracting Covid-19, working reduced hours, layoffs, juggling between homeschooling and work-from-home formulas, the pandemic has brought the need for investing in employees’ wellbeing. 

And despite the challenges presented by remote working and hybrid work models, leaders need to enhance their communication and collaboration with their workforce. It will go a long way to improve their work satisfaction, mental wellness, and overall work-life balance. And that also helps the HR leaders with managing employee retention. 

Looking Ahead

While last year and so far this year have proved to be the most volatile in recent times, as we move into 2022 and beyond, workplace adjustments on how we work, the technologies we use, and where we work will remain supreme. Therefore, it’s going to be the responsibility of the leadership to not only align the workforce with the changes but also ensure that the changes don’t affect their performance. 

At Sounding Board, we take pride in developing through coaching the world’s most effective leaders to manage hybrid and remote workforces, build high-performing teams, and enhance diversity in their workplaces. We provide virtual and scalable enterprise solutions to meet your current and future needs. Contact us to learn more. We’ll be glad to assist!

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