“A team is not a group of people that work together. A team is a group of people that trust each other.”
Over the past several months, the leadership team at EANE has been talking with some of our senior human resource managers at our member companies about the future. In these strange and turbulent times, it’s not always easy to look forward. We’re deep into the daily grind of our COVID lives, working either onsite at our facilities with stringent safety protocols in place or maybe even fully remote, where dust is gathering in our office spaces as we fight for air (and counter space) in our home offices with our spouses and kids. We’ve been dialing up our Chief HR Officers to check in and see how they are doing today and also polling them about the future. What’s on their minds for 2020 and beyond? What will their priorities be in the next 2, 5 even 10 years down the road? The conversations have been interesting, to say the least.
First and foremost, they are exhausted. I mean REALLY beat. The past six months have necessitated a warrior-like mentality from HR professionals and you have risen to the challenge. We’re guessing many of you were functioning on pure adrenaline for weeks in March and April when you were forced to make major shifts in your workforces and adopt the most insane set of new policies and procedures for not only your employee compliance but also your entire business operations. Here we are, six months later, and the battle forges on. It’s more familiar now, with mask requirements, social distancing measures, travel restrictions and home school challenges. But it’s still exhausting and it’s difficult to reflect too far forward when we have constant chaos in our present lives. But our senior HR leaders are looking forward and here is what they have to say.
Holistic Employee Wellness is KEY
Remember when companies focused almost exclusively on Fitbits and healthy snacks for their wellness programs? It seemed so simple back then. The wellness challenge of today is more complex with the focus shifting towards mental wellness and work/life balance. Companies are finding ways to promote healthy living across the spectrum, offering a range of support and services through EAP’s, meditation apps, enhanced medical benefit programs and creative work scheduling on top of the traditional benefits of fitness reimbursements. These plans include access to mental health professionals and assistance in dealing with stress and depression. What’s coming down the road? The concept of workplace wellness will encompass the physical, mental, socio-emotional, and financial well-being of the employee.
It Takes a Village…But a streamlined village!
You might outsource some of your HR functions today and that trend is likely to continue into the next 5 to 10 years. With HR taking a deeper role in the operations within their organization, the need to have external support from partners that really understand the business and company culture is expected to grow exponentially. You need deliverable results quickly in areas such as compliance support, recruitment, technology enhancements, workforce assessments and training. COVID may have changed your work dynamic for the short or long term but either way, you’re likely to form some new alliances with partners that can support you and keep you moving forward.
Focus on Creating the Workforce of the Future
The harsh reality of the past six months has created major changes to our employment landscape. There are some positions within our organizations that are completely gone or have morphed into something entirely different. The WAY we work (remote, onsite or hybrid) and WHO is working are the big questions we will need to answer over the next few years. Can you keep part or all of your workforce remote? Give up your brick and mortar space, or reduce it, saving real estate costs? And if you do this, how does it impact productivity and customer relations? Also on the HOT list is the WHO. Do you have the right mix of employees to fit these new roles? If not, do you upskill your current workers or seek to find new candidates with different skill sets? The senior HR leaders that we spoke to are deep in this analysis and working with their senior leadership teams to plot the course forward. One of the resounding themes they all agree on? They need strong managers and supervisors to be successful. We echo that sentiment and so does Gallup.
Training alone won’t prepare you workforce for the future, but creating great managers will . . . and that’s where training should focus.
A final note of reflection from many of our conversations is around change and agility in general. Most of the people we spoke with agree that we’re not out of the woods yet with this pandemic. 2021 will be a year of continued turmoil on some level with vaccine distribution, political ramifications and the rebuilding of our economic infrastructures at the state and federal levels. The advice from our senior HR group? Keep your cool, stay focused and align with an HR community of friends that help you stay up to date and sane! And take care of yourself. Remember, put YOUR mask on first. You’re taking care of everyone else!