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Developing the new organisation – how will you be structured?

The scale of business change during 2020 has been monumental. Some sectors have been devastated whilst others have accelerated their digital and operational transformations by years. In 2021, businesses are continuing to accelerate their shift to a digital environment and new operating models.

We’re all hoping for a better year and, whilst optimism may be a little low during the current lockdown period, there is hope that a form of normality can gradually return from Spring. But what will the HR function experience in 2021? How will it evolve having adapted so well in 2020? To kick-start the year, we asked our in-house team of HR transformation experts what they think this year might have in store for HR Directors.

HR – Powering Business Change

The scale of business change during 2020 has been monumental. Some sectors have been devastated whilst others have accelerated their digital and operational transformations by years. In 2021, businesses are continuing to accelerate their shift to a digital environment and new operating models.  As a result, the demand for support from HR is ramping up in areas such as organisational design, workforce productivity and effectiveness.

There will be more pressure for HR to provide transformational support to the business and to a higher standard than ever before.

Developing your new organisation – How will you be structured?

All this pressure to change has meant one thing: businesses need to look again at how they are structured, how work is done and how their organisations responded during the crisis. Organisational effectiveness and organisational design will be high on the agenda of many companies and HR will need, more than ever, to drive the design and implementation of organisational change to allow for growth beyond the COVID pandemic.

Additionally, we will see an acceleration of the already challenging digital talent demand; we’ll see more scrum masters and more software engineers who are central to supporting the optimised digital working environment. There is a dearth of talent in this space at the moment and so differentiating yourself as an employer to better attract key resources will be an important accountability.

In its 2021 HR Priorities Survey[2], Gartner found that 68 percent of HR professionals will be focused on enhancing critical skills and competencies in the workforce this year, with a particular emphasis on digital skills. Kropp anticipates more organisations will close many of those skills gaps through recruiting rather than by reskilling existing employees. However, there is a finite amount of experience in the market and relying on external talent pools alone may not be the most cost effective and efficient approach. Organisations need to find a way to re-skill their own employees.

2020 has proven that businesses can work remotely so there is an opportunity to source talent from further afield rather than expensive, high-cost office locations.

Competition through differentiation – What do you stand for?

All the uncertainty of COVID-19 and the move to remote working at scale has distanced employees from their businesses physically and, for new hires, made acclimatising to the company culture harder. Sustaining engagement in an ongoing hybrid working model requires concerted focus and planning to ensure employees stay connected. As people begin to move jobs in a post COVID world, the importance of a company’s employer value proposition (EVP) and its promise to its people will come under more scrutiny.

Differentiating yourself as an ‘employer of choice’ is not just limited to that new wave of talent needed to support digital change; you need to be able to deliver differentiation for all aspects of your workforce. Being able to explain what you stand for and the employee ‘deal’ is going to be key to setting yourself apart from the competition.

Sustaining the health of your business – How will you show you care?

There has been a greater emphasis than ever for HR on wellbeing with so many people working remotely.  The care of colleagues and employees going forward will also take greater significance. While the end feels like it is starting to appear on the horizon (fingers crossed), companies will be judged by their employees (and potentially customers) on how they have cared for their staff. To ensure this forms a strong pillar of the way people are managed going forward, HR Directors need to think through what this looks like – how will your wellbeing policies need to change, what support will line managers need, how will operating and caring in a hybrid working environment affect your costs of benefits, operating cost and insurance?

Re-establishing company culture – Who are you now?

Post COVID, companies will want to accelerate and cement their positions in their respective markets through exploring new ways of working (keeping the best of what we have learned) and reimagining the way they operate and use their physical space.

Businesses will be asking HR to make a concerted effort to shape and manage their target culture. Asking the question “what did we have before, how do we want it to change and how will we get there?” is important. Culture grows and changes over time so it is incumbent not just on HR, but also leaders at all levels, to be clear on the cultural goals and represent this in the way they operate and manage the business and its people.

We will see a greater emphasis on workforce engagement. Businesses will need to change up a gear to bring workforces back together post-COVID through leadership, people management, feedback channels and proactive support. There will also be a focus on workplace design. Thousands of businesses across the UK saw their offices rendered redundant as thousands of people had work from home for the best part of 2020. HR will need to play a greater role in shaping the new workplace than ever before given its impact on culture, engagement and wellbeing as well as ensuring it brings the anticipated uptick in innovation and collaboration.

[1] 5 ways digital business will change in 2021 – TechRepublic

[2] Gartner Top Priorities for HR Leaders in 2021

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