By – Eric Friedman
As the business landscape changes with ever-increasing speed, so does the role of human resource (HR) professionals. HR has come a long way from processing employee paperwork to now holding a strategic position and often a chief seat at the senior leadership table. Having founded a platform for complete candidate skills and job fit assessment, I see firsthand how adequate insight into candidates’ skills and behaviors can offer HR teams invaluable information that can aid in meeting the most pressing personnel challenges.
To help you stay abreast of the changes, here is a closer look at the issues facing HR this year:
1. Finding And Landing High-Quality Talent
When it comes to acquiring top talent, the game has changed. The tight labor market continues to create significant challenges for HR. In XpertHR’s recently released survey, “Top HR Trends for 2020,” HR professionals reported recruiting and hiring as their most critical challenge. Of those respondents, 51% said that their organization is facing an “extreme challenge” recruiting and hiring high-quality candidates, more than double the number (22%) from just two years ago.
So how can companies begin to bend the cost- and time-to-hire curves backward? Create competitive advantages for talent processes by offering tailored incentives. Use skills tests and behavioral assessments during the initial stage of the hiring process, and determine what motivates top talent. For some new hires, it may mean a larger paycheck, but for most employees, it means development opportunities, flexible working conditions, management responsibilities, greater autonomy, a better job title or even the chance to do good in the world.
2. The Revolving Door Of Talent
The World Health Organization made headlines last year when it classified burnout as a medical diagnosis, defining burnout as “a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed.” Sixty-two percent of respondents to a survey published in Emplify’s “2020 Employee Engagement Trends” report suffer from burnout at work. In the face of widespread burnout, it is not surprising that the same study found nearly 73% of respondents are open to new career opportunities, and for respondents who have been employed by their current company for less than a year, that number is 77%.
The fight to retain top talent starts with making employee wellness a priority. Though the answer may not be as obvious as it seems, a study published in the journal Career Development International found that many highly engaged employees are also exhausted and ready to leave their employer. Companies are at the most significant risk of losing their most motivated and hard-working employees due to high stress and burnout.
The solution? Develop processes to ensure that workloads are more reasonable. Offer flexible work options. Create a company culture that encourages work-life balance. And educate staff about the warning signs of burnout and ways to combat it.
3. Developing The Next Generation Of Leaders
Businesses spend billions of dollars annually on leadership development. The scarcity of in-demand talent and the high cost of attracting and retaining talent means many corporations are setting their sights on inside talent. Employees are more motivated to stay with a company that offers leadership training, according to a recent survey. However, 47% of respondents are dissatisfied with their employer’s current learning and development opportunities and would prefer more flexibility in learning opportunities and real-world application wherever possible.
To retain employees, organizations need to create or expand leadership development programs to meet the needs of their workforce. Implementing innovative approaches to learning new skills, such as self-guided online learning, on-the-job coaching and virtual training can help improve engagement and lower costly employee turnover.
4. Finding Resources For Workforce Development
While mega-companies like Amazon are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in workforce development initiatives, many businesses are reluctant to invest heavily in training and development. Although there is no promise of a return on investment, organizations of all sizes should initiate training strategies and structures that grow over time and deliver a competitive advantage. Investing in the training and development of entry-level employees is a strategy that is gaining momentum, as their positions are most easily filled once the trainee moves up the corporate ladder.
Training and development don’t have to consume a massive portion of your budget. Online evaluations and training courses are relatively inexpensive and can provide employees with in-depth insight into their own skill sets and a self-guided path for learning new skills or improving existing skills. Investing in your workforce will create a loyal, productive team.
5. Achieving Diversity With Inclusion
Workplace bias — both conscious and unconscious — continues to impede the hiring, development and promotion of underrepresented groups. Although many companies have made great strides in hiring a more diverse workforce in recent years, the likelihood that organizations will be able to retain this staff without explicitly structuring an inclusive workplace is low. Evaluating skills and gaining insight into behavioral patterns prior to an interview can help combat bias by elevating candidates based on job-fit metrics, not demographics.
If HR focuses on diversity without creating a culture of inclusion, the diverse mix of people we hire will be less likely to stay. Organizations must establish strong policies to protect employees from negative behaviors. Creating a culture of inclusivity improves retention and acts as a magnet for talent, drawing a more diverse set of applications. Companies must build an inclusive culture. Training to policies to ensure people are aware of their biases and aware of how to not act on them is critical.
Although the tight labor market presents some unique challenges, adopting these recommendations can help your organization stay ahead of the curve.
Eric Friedman is the Founder and CEO of eSkill, a global leader in skills testing and behavioral assessment solutions for employers.