Between the COVID pandemic, global inflation, and a looming recession, the last three years have brought more than their share of challenges to the workplace. HR has grappled with shifts in work trends driven by responses to the pandemic and an increasingly dispersed, global workforce as businesses expand internationally. With the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work for the long term, HR sits at the crux of logistical challenges as organizations transition to managing dispersed teams online.
HR teams everywhere are looking for ways to gather input from people, manage onboarding and offboarding from a distance, and support managers tasked with keeping their dispersed teams satisfied and engaged—all while trying to maintain a positive organizational culture.
According to research from Gartner, leader and manager effectiveness is the top priority of HR leaders going into 2023. While many companies today are pushing a return to office work for local employees, remote and hybrid work structures are here to stay.
In addition, global expansion means businesses must continue communicating digitally with international teams no matter what their back-to-office or remote policies require. To meet the needs of today’s workforce, employers need to determine what to focus on for the coming year and plan accordingly.
What are HR goals?
Modern HR professionals sit at the table as leadership team members, and their ultimate goal is building the people strategies that propel organizations to success. When planning your people strategy, consider using the HR SMART goal framework.
SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals can help you structure solid strategies designed to improve various areas of the business, including company culture, workforce planning and development, employee wellbeing, and productivity.
How do HR goals support organizational goals?
People are the fuel and engines of every business. Modern businesses that view people and business strategies as two parts of one whole see the greatest rates of success: Great people strategy lowers attrition, increases retention, promotes productivity, and ultimately boosts the bottom line.
Putting your HR goals into action
HR leaders can leverage the SMART goal framework to structure meaningful people strategies designed to help organizations adapt to an ever-evolving reality.
As the world heads into even more uncharted waters, these five goals should be at the top of every HR professional’s list for 2023:
- Build a global change management strategy
- Develop effective and future-ready leaders
- Improve remote and hybrid workplace culture
- Invest in competitive compensation and benefits
- Leverage HR tech and automation to increase HR efficiency
Goal #1: Build a global change management strategy
By nature, people are averse to change. This is especially true in today’s economic climate, with inflation at record heights, layoffs making headlines every week, and a global recession. The key to surviving and thriving is having a change management strategy that keeps people confident in their roles, value to the company, and personal financial stability.
In other words, business stability in the modern world of work requires agility and the ability to recognize, anticipate, and adapt to constant and unpredictable global change—and keep your talent happy, engaged, and motivated to change with you.
Successful change management strategies put people front and center. That means building a strategy that incorporates elements that enable fast adaptation and strong communication across all your teams. When creating your strategy, consider starting with these best practices.
Reinforce your business with an agile workforce planning strategy
Depending on the state of your business and the macroeconomy, you may need to shrink or grow your workforce at the drop of a hat. One of the best ways to enable this kind of agility is to practice ongoing workforce planning. Ongoing workforce planning can provide you with an accurate picture of the talent you have and the talent you need.
Building a versatile workforce is also key to surviving and thriving. Consider investing in liquid teams, freelancers, and consultants to reinforce your business agility and prevent burnout. Prepare your people for change with a strong and ongoing reskilling and upskilling program to ensure they have the knowledge and practical skills to leverage the critical and emerging technologies modern businesses rely on.
Investment in career development for your people also provides you with the kind of cutting-edge workforce that can pivot quickly to meet the demands of an ever-evolving customer base and business climate.
Build a global comms and tech infrastructure
No matter how much you invest in your workforce’s skills, if your globally dispersed teams can’t talk to each other, you’ll run into larger-scale problems. Top-notch collaboration depends on building a tech stack that enables easy, fast, and secure communication.
Tools like email, Zoom, Teams, Slack, and others (e.g., project management systems like Jira, Asana, Monday, etc.) are essential to maintaining global workflows, building relationships, and nurturing your company culture across multi-national sites.
Implementing a stable, fast, and secure global tech infrastructure is critical to guarantee a continuous and secure flow of work. Work with cybersecurity professionals to build a company-wide cybersecurity policy and awareness program to safeguard your people info, IP, and customer data from data breaches.
Be patient and transparent with your people
Adjusting to change isn’t easy and always takes time. When it comes to building a change management strategy and guiding your people successfully through change, small or large, it’s imperative to practice patience and transparency.
Make one-on-one meetings a regular practice and weave them into the fabric of your company culture. One of the easiest and most effective ways to gain trust and increase your people’s confidence in their roles is to listen to their concerns.
It’s also imperative to be transparent: It’s not just enough to act on your people’s feedback. Communicate to them how you’re building new programs and policies in response. Additionally, let your people know how your business is doing—and don’t hold back. This is especially important in economically uncertain times. Communicate the good and bad, what plans you have in place to continue driving the business forward to success, and the roles each person plays in achieving your goals.
Goal #2: Develop effective and future-ready leaders
Effectively leading your people through change takes effective and future-ready leadership. And while “leader and manager effectiveness … is a priority for 60% of HR leaders, 24% say their leadership development approach does not prepare leaders for the future of work,” says research by Gartner.
So, what does it take to develop great, future-ready leaders?
- Training. Professional development and leadership training must be a continuous and ongoing practice for everyone across your organization—from C-level executives to middle and lower management—for businesses to stay competitive. Developing skills helps keep your organization agile and provides the inspiration, knowledge, and expertise to navigate unforeseen challenges.
- Going global. Nurture your leaders to invest in the power of globally dispersed teams and how to break into new markets to grow the business. Expanding your team internationally can help weather the economic storm and organically diversify your workforce. Going global also helps keep the business lean, enabling greater flexibility and the ability to cut costs without sacrificing essential programs by shifting them to less costly regions.
- Prioritizing DEI&B. Amidst the layoffs and budget cuts of late 2022 and 2023, DE&I initiatives “are among the first to go,” according to a report from Monster.com. But this kind of knee-jerk reaction ignores the data: Organizations sporting “racially and ethnically diverse leadership and executive teams have a 35% higher likelihood of financially outperforming companies with little or no diversity.” Additionally, companies with diverse workforces “enjoy 2.3 times more cash flow per employee as compared to less inclusive, more monolithic environments.”
- Giving your people autonomy. One of the hallmarks of great leadership is knowing when to let go and give your people free rein and trust. Leadership is about guidance and support. When leaders provide their people with guidance and support, engagement rises and innovation flourishes. Leveraging your people’s diversity of experience is fundamental to propelling your company through obstacles and setting you apart from the competition.
- Keeping an eye on where you are and where you need to go. Understanding what skills your workforce has and how you’re efficiently applying them to tackle current business needs is just the starting point. To thrive in today’s world, businesses need to stay at least one step ahead and keep one eye on the future. Leaders need to lead the charge in identifying all your people’s skills, tapped and untapped. Get creative with how you can leverage them to build business resilience. Lean into horizontal and internal mobility, mentorships, and upskilling and reskilling talented professionals who can adapt and evolve their expertise to changing business needs.
When companies center their leadership programs around these five principles, they fortify themselves against unpredictable challenges, market ups and downs, and the fast-evolving world of work.
Goal #3: Improve remote and hybrid workplace culture
If we’re talking about the “fast-evolving world of work,” no one can ignore the broad, global shift into multi-national, hybrid, and remote work the COVID pandemic catalyzed in 2020.
Although some companies are pushing for a more full-time return to the office (e.g., Apple, Google, Goldman Sachs), “[w]orkplace experts say the state of remote, hybrid and in-person work is reaching an equilibrium point and that today’s level of RTO will probably stay put, even in the face of recession warnings.”
As it stands, the experts expect most companies to stick with hybrid policies that require people to come into the office between two and three times a week. And whether people return to work on-site more full-time or not, today’s businesses must contend with the challenges of maintaining strong communication and healthy company culture for their globally dispersed teams.
Establishing a sense of connection can be harder to create and maintain when people log in from their coffee table, juggle interruptions from people at home, and feel like they are on a never-ending stream of video calls.
Your company’s remote work culture doesn’t have to stray from the culture you’ve been enjoying, but you must recognize that it may look different. If elements of your work culture traditionally required people to meet face-to-face, dig into translating them to a remote modality.
For example, leverage your telecommunications tools to introduce more one-on-one meetings between managers and team members to build stronger connections. It’s also important to invest more in peer mentorship programs (both in-person and remote) to provide great work experiences for your new joiners and workforce newcomers who are eager to learn on the job from more veteran colleagues.
Maybe your teams enjoy sharing monthly happy hours to celebrate each other, or there’s great enthusiasm around the quarterly in-person town hall meetings. Identify what makes the employee experience rewarding and connects your people to your culture. Then find a way to recreate those elements as part of your culture in virtual form.
In addition to the overall culture, as people continue to work and interact remotely, employers must be sure to address topics like harassment prevention and maintaining confidentiality. With the rise of more internationally dispersed teams, it’s also important for everyone on the team to be sensitive to cultural differences and practice remote team etiquette.
These topics are essential for sustaining a good work environment for in-person and dispersed workforces. Insensitivity to cultural differences, harassment, and discrimination erode company culture no matter where it happens.
Goal #4: Invest in competitive compensation and benefits
The pandemic, rising inflation, and a global recession have illustrated the importance of examining employee benefits, identifying gaps, and correcting disparities. In early 2020, just as COVID began to shut things down and send everyone home to work, 57 percent of employees said their benefits package was more important to them than ever before.
Today, those benefits include flexible work arrangements. According to Gallup, 60 percent of US professionals prefer hybrid work arrangements, and fewer than 10 percent prefer working on-site full-time. HiBob research found that 62 percent of people find that hybrid work enables more work-life balance. In fact, 36 percent say they’ll leave their jobs if their company forces them to return full-time to on-site work.
Mental health and wellness benefits
During the pandemic, employee health and wellness became top priorities. That sentiment has grown and working to determine the type of benefits that mesh with your people’s current circumstances is key. It’s also in the best interests of companies to invest more in their people’s health and mental wellness. According to the WHO, depression and anxiety cost the global economy roughly $1 trillion a year in lost productivity. Additionally, 92 percent of employees reported that “mental health challenges” impact their work.
Companies can also consider increasing cost-sharing for health plan expenses such as deductibles, premiums, or co-payments, adding or expanding voluntary benefits, augmenting services for managing high-cost claims, adjusting leave policies, or adding life insurance options and childcare benefits.
Adding or enhancing telehealth and mental healthcare benefits could also be a welcome change and can help you provide the support people need today and in the future.
Flexibility benefits and paid leave
In addition to paid mental health and wellness benefits, one of the most cost-effective and impactful benefits is providing your people with flexible schedules. Allowing your people to set their own schedules reduces stress, boosts productivity, and increases engagement.
For people working from home, consider providing a stipend for home office equipment. You can also consider increasing paid leave and expanding what that covers, from floating holidays to parental leave, mental health days, and time-in-lieu policies.
Options and shares
Another great way to double down on great benefits, especially in tough economic times, is to offer equity shares or stock options. Not only can these benefits ease people’s worries about their financial future, but they can also improve retention rates and boost productivity as people feel a more personal connection to the long-term success of your business. And a bonus? They don’t come out of your budget.
Goal #5: Leverage HR tech and automation to increase HR efficiency
No matter how you look at it, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the workplace landscape. Teams are dispersed globally, and despite a push by some companies to return more frequently to the office, only 3 percent of US CEOs “said they were planning to reduce remote work at their companies.”
On top of that, 5 percent reported “they were planning to expand it.” Globally, 56 percent of companies are either hybrid or completely remote. According to recent research, 78 percent of CEOs “believe remote collaboration has to be thought of as a long-term business strategy.”
For many, the days of being in the office five days a week and stopping by someone’s desk to ask for data are largely gone, as are local files and departments operating in silos. HR leaders know that finding the right tech to support their strategies and priorities is critical.
At the 2020 HR Technology Conference, HR analyst Josh Bersin noted dramatic transformations in the HR field, saying that “companies are redesigning the ways things get done at a pace I’ve never seen … They’ll need technology to support their efforts.”
Indeed, to be as effective and strategic as possible, anything related to the people side of the business needs to be on one system. A unified system allows the necessary people—HR leaders, managers, admins, and specialists—access to all the information they require when creating reports and tracking the main KPIs of HR.
Today, companies have transformed their business strategies, the way they work, how their people communicate, and how they get everything done, from recruitment to employee engagement.
“Every HR Technology platform brings two value propositions to your company,” Josh Bersin states in a recent article. “(A) they automate a lot of junk work, and (B) they transform the way you operate … If you look at HR Tech as primarily the first value proposition, you’ll see … a lot of time saved, but you may not wind up a ‘better company’ as a result. If you really want to improve recruitment effectiveness, internal mobility, growth, or employee engagement, you need to think about these systems as Business Transformation Platforms.”
Gallagher’s latest HR Technology Pulse survey found that businesses’ focus today is on HR technology solutions for payroll, time tracking, performance management systems, and employee communications tools. The researchers attribute the trend to the growing importance of HR’s ability to support the expanding remote and hybrid work environment.
The need for collaboration continues, even in the post-pandemic era. People are 3.5 times more likely to partner with five or more teams when working remotely than when they work in an office setting, according to Gartner. This means providing a platform that ensures people can easily connect to the organization and each other, regardless of their location, is vital. Equally important, these solutions need to enable managers to support their teams and provide ongoing development opportunities for their people.
Looking ahead into 2023 and beyond
As the workforce adapts to the post-COVID world, record inflation, and a global recession, we will likely face even more challenges in the year ahead. Identifying the top HR priorities can help you focus on implementing the tools needed to support those efforts.
Focusing on these top five HR goals can also help position your company to successfully navigate the challenges and provide your people with the support they need to be productive and stay engaged. Most importantly, make the most of what this year has to offer with intelligent, data-driven decisions and priorities that set your people and organization up for success.
At HiBob, we’ve built a modern HR platform designed for modern business needs—today and beyond.
We focused on building something robust yet intuitive and easy to use, which has led Bob to be the platform of choice for thousands of fast-growing modern, mid-sized organizations.
For HR, it automates many common processes, allows greater oversight and visibility of the business, and centralizes all people data in a secure, user-friendly environment.
For managers, it provides access to data and insights to help them lead more effectively and streamline processes.
For employees, it’s the tools and information they need to connect, develop, and grow throughout their journey.
In a short time, Bob can be deployed to enable communication, collaboration, and connectivity that drives stronger engagement, productivity, and business outcomes.