We can all agree that it’s been a tough few years. Businesses and their people have borne the brunt of a succession of seismic challenges, and for HR professionals, it has been nothing less than relentless.

Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) and Chief People Officers (CPOs) all over the world have faced the unenviable task of guiding their companies through thick and thin, fighting to keep their people happy and the business afloat.

As we approach yet another economic downturn, the challenges just keep on coming. As CPOs look to build successful strategies for this year, focusing on these three key areas can help you achieve your biggest HR goals and navigate the biggest challenges.

Challenge #1: Aligning people and business needs

CHROs and CPOs are often caught in the middle of competing priorities at work. On the one hand, the rest of the C-suite understandably focuses on how the wider business strategy will drive revenues and help the company thrive during difficult economic times. 

On the other hand, CPOs must find ways of mitigating employee burnout, managing increased workloads in the case of layoffs or hiring freezes, and retaining top talent despite pay freezes and a dramatic increase in the cost of living.

The solution: Think bigger

Instead of seeing the competition between these priorities, one option is to view them as two elements of the same people-driven business strategy. Naturally, any plan needs to begin with what the business needs, whether that’s cutting costs or boosting productivity, but those goals can often seamlessly integrate with creating a supportive, people-focused culture.

Think about:

  • Reducing how much office space you need. Sixty-nine percent of businesses in the United States have permanently closed office space in the last few years in order to support remote working and save money. Consider how the design of your space impacts employee wellbeing, and the budget you’ve saved can be reallocated to improve compensation and benefits that keep people happy. The likely result? Higher levels of engagement and productivity, and a more agile business.
  • Going global and increasing the reach of your recruitment. Expanding internationally into less expensive countries and regions can help your company weather the economic storm. It can also help diversify your workforce. It can be an effective strategy for keeping your business lean, supporting greater flexibility, and reducing your spend—without losing essential business functions.
  • Investing in team development with superior DE&I programs. Investing in internal mobility can be one of the best ways of saving on recruitment costs and simultaneously supporting the development of your people. Helping professionals reskill and upskill increases retention, improves productivity, and can be an important part of succession planning.

Challenge #2: To go hybrid, or not to go hybrid

After 2020’s explosion in remote working, it’s no surprise that many businesses continue to seek an ideal balance when it comes to their hybrid working practices.

But what structure is best for your people and business? As you unpack the challenges around hybrid, consider:

  • How many days a week you will expect people to work from the office
  • If you will offer your people a number of office sites to choose from
  • Whether teams need to be together in person on a regular basis
  • How arrangements may differ between teams in different business regions
  • What tools you will employ to facilitate effective hybrid working

CPOs can also face a newfound resistance to office working: When high-performing employees resist coming in, against company policy, how will you respond?

The solution: Set expectations, enhance communication

  • Set fair and realistic expectations that allow team members and managers to engage. Drawing clear lines around who should come in to the office when, and what activities you expect to be carried out where, helps make your policy straightforward. And it will make navigating these expectations easier for everyone.
  • Optimize communication between dispersed teams. In the world of global workforce management, effective communication tools are key. Think about what kind of tech your teams need, and create a strategy for how often individuals and managers meet, and what information should be available for everyone.
  • Get your office layout just right. Reinventing or redesigning your office space and the facilities offered can make all the difference, improving productivity and increasing enthusiasm for coming in.

Challenge #3: Navigating pay transparency laws

Pay transparency is a hot topic globally, and senior HR leaders are often tasked with finding ways of accommodating new legislation in this area. Australia; the EU; and Colorado, Washington, and New York City in the US have all recently introduced new pay transparency laws.

These changes present a number of challenges: individuals and organizations finding disclosure uncomfortable, existing team members resenting the salaries of new joiners, and tensions between stretched budgets and the risk of losing out on top talent.

The solution: Clarity and benefits

  • Hold open and transparent conversations at all levels around pay. Breaking the pay taboo is an important step for everyone: Encourage managers to discuss pay justifications, and consider adopting flexible benefits or even adding perks where possible.
  • Remember the benefits of pay parity, and champion your support for gender equality and fair treatment of everyone at work.

It’s time to have the big conversations

As HR leaders it’s important to keep an eye on the big picture as you plan your strategy and as your organization tackles challenges old and new.

By looking at the main challenges of today, and deciding how you will respond to them, you can set the right course. And with the right tools, and a clear sense of direction, you can help your business build for a brighter future.

Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.