5 Burning Questions for HR Leaders in 2023 and Beyond

Stressed, pressured, overworked, and under-loved. 

This is the prevailing mood and outlook shared by many human resources professionals (HR) in the U.S. and the U.K., according to a recent study conducted by a U.S. app developer. 

Of the more than 520 HR professionals surveyed in the U.S. and U.K., 98% said they were “burnt out” due to workplace transformations during the pandemic and the need to urgently address many challenges from the ongoing impact of the great resignation trend. 

Challenges such as how to move large employee teams online smoothly and quickly, helping colleagues adjust to hybrid or remote working demands, or overseeing large-scale job cuts added to the collective stress felt by HR teams around the world.

Other standout findings from the survey included:

  • 88% of respondents said they dreaded work
  • 97% said they felt emotionally fatigued from work over the past year
  • 78% said they are open to leaving their job for new opportunities
  • 73% said they don’t have the tools and resources to do their job well

These outcomes confirm that the HR sector – as we knew it – is at a crossroads and poised for a significant reset to better engage, empower, and inspire HR professionals in the ongoing and post-pandemic environment. 

What are the areas in urgent need of change? To get the HR reset conversation started, here are five burning questions for business leaders and HR managers.  

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1. Are our staff welfare programs fit for purpose in 2023 and beyond? 

Based on the survey findings, it’s clear that whether you are a small company/startup about to set up your first HR team or a medium or large-sized corporate eager to revamp your department and operations, revitalizing staff welfare programs should be a number one priority. 

Progressive companies such as Hewlett Packard have addressed well-being head-on. The company’s lauded HP Spirit program, for example, adopts a holistic approach with initiatives targeting HP employees and families covering health benefits, workplace flexibility, job sharing, expanded childcare and educational assistance, virtual volunteering events, and home-schooling.

2. Is HR a key driver of purpose, value, and culture in your company?

Larger-than-life business leaders like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Richard Branson, and Jack Ma are CEOs who have single handedly set the values, culture, and purpose of their respective companies.

Superstar CEOs are a rare breed, however, and rather than business leaders shaping company culture on their own, a recent HR survey from McKinsey, “The new possible: How HR can help build the organization of the future” makes a case for Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) and HR teams to play a bigger role in driving and reinforcing the company purpose and values. 

The report calls on HR teams to extend their role to include articulating mindsets and behaviors linked to the company’s purpose to inculcate them as employee norms and behaviors.

The report highlights how vehicle manufacturer Scania holds an annual “Climate Day” event where the company stops operations for an hour to hold sustainability training to reinforce its “drive the shift toward a sustainable transport system” purpose. 

Recruitment processes and guidelines should also be redrawn to include the characteristics of a “purpose-driven” employee – these can be embedded within recruitment, development, and succession planning.

Purpose-driven metrics can also shape compensation and performance decisions. Shell, for instance, plans to set carbon emissions targets and link executive compensation to performance against them.

3. Do you need to invest more to train and upskill your HR teams?

A recent Forbes article covering the anticipated top 10 Trends for the 2022 Workplace highlighted an urgent need to upskill HR teams to enable them to:

  1. Stay on top of workplace transformation trends 
  2. Equipped and empowered to lead transformation initiatives    

The writer cited a recent report, The Evolving Role of Learning in Workforce Transformation, Future Workplace, that surveyed 549 global HR and Business leaders on their future learning programs and priorities. 

Many of the HR leaders said when it comes to training – and allocated budgets – HR is prioritized below business teams, and they are often left to their own devices to upskill themselves.

Bridging this knowledge gap, and creating a lifelong learning culture, was identified as an important near-term goal with an emphasis on upskilling HR employees in developing commercial and business acumen, people analytics, and digital marketing.

Digital skills and adopting new technologies, and outlooks, are critical as traditional HR practices, such as annual reviews and maintaining standardized hiring practices are becoming less relevant in sectors that are largely project-based involving highly-skilled temporary experts and consultants.

4. Are your hiring practices too rigid or inelastic for today’s business environment and job seekers? 

Many employees forced into working from home over the past two years do not want to return to the office every day – they want hybrid and remote work options to be permanent. 

While flexibility is a top employee priority today, employers can also “unlock” themselves from traditional hiring approaches to trial new ones like a flexible or open talent model.

Flexible and open talent allows employers to hire specialist teams to do specialist jobs as and when required – this could involve local freelancers working in-house for a set period or engaging online contractors from anywhere around the world. 

The benefits of engaging “gun for hire” experts for contracted periods include:

  • Organizations can scale staffing up and down quickly 
  • Enables small-task outsourcing for projects where hiring a full-time team is not viable 
  • Access to diverse skill sets and fresh mindsets beyond traditional recruiting pipelines 

Casting a wider talent net opens up many new possibilities for companies and while it offers exciting development pathways, companies must have the right structures and policies in place to make the most of it – traditional hiring processes and mindsets are no longer relevant. 

Redesigning workflows, as well as adopting revitalized talent strategies and infrastructures such as new recruitment management systems and productivity and cost-benefit KPIs will enable a more agile and impactful talent strategy for the future.

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5. Recruiting software and HR analytics – are they powering your HR processes and strategy?

Does your company’s digital transformation plan extend to key support functions like HR?

If not, they should, and key focus areas should be new platforms to enhance employee engagement, customized training, and more automated functions and analytics for deeper insights and efficiency.

Providing a great user experience across digital recruitment channels is especially important. Job seekers will very likely bypass your advertised roles if your hiring platforms are clunky, unattractive, and difficult to use. 

Engaging recruitment technology and artificial intelligence solutions to automate manual processes such as resume screening, background checks, and onboarding will also speed up processes and free up HR staff to spend time on added-value tasks such as building talent pools. Analytics software will also allow managers to identify where processes can be improved.  

Of the five burning questions and issues identified in this blog, the adoption of hiring and resume data software and analytics can bring change and make a positive difference the quickest. 

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