Latest Synopsis

theHRDIRECTOR – Latest Synopsis


Independence is our strength – covering the issues that directly impact on those with the duty of directing human resources

ISSUE 200 – Synopsis – JUNE

Employment law
During this unprecedented time, as businesses have endeavoured to manage under extraordinary circumstances, employment law has been plunged into a swirling backwash. The impacts of the pandemic have shattered work conventions, while mass redundancy and the furlough scheme has sent hundreds of thousands into a maelstrom of uncertainty. At the same time, the tidal surge to remote working, while lauded as an operational success, has found out existing employment law as rigid, brittle and inadequate to cope with a fast moving and fluid situation. Dispersed employees are unprotected by existing law, inequality has been exposed on a shocking scale and employers have had a wakeup call, that inclusion and diversity doesn’t just refer to race, ethnicity and gender. All the signs point to mass employment litigation, at a time when businesses need to be occupied with recovery and the road ahead. With remote working here to stay, employers are grappling with the ramification of a hybrid workforce and a nonlinear working pattern and it is clear that existing employment law must be radically adjusted in line. It’s a paradox that the voids left by redundancies will have to be filled, but firms could find that they are unable to offer long-term employment contracts and will increasingly rely on third-party resources, which holds risks, without a process in place for contractors with visibility over their IR35 status. Then there’s Brexit and while the pandemic has distracted, the morass of EU employment law rights promises years of reassessment and reconfiguration ahead.

HR strategy and planning
This trying time has been all about rapid, real-time reaction to counteract the impacts of constant change and disruption. For most, there has been little opportunity for long-term planning and strategy has been about staying shipshape. But with the winds of optimism billowing in the sails and with massive changes in operations and workforce framework ahead, it’s a good time to be in HR, to support and protect dispersed employees and plan for agile and adaptable hybrid workforce. So what has been learned from this disruptive time and what strategies and plans should HR be putting in place for a better future? Should we be looking to scenario plan for what many think will be repeats of the pandemic in the future? Should HR become people strategists with the changing world we live in today and crucially do they enable the broader business goals? With the seismic changes caused by the pandemic, never before has the HR plan been so pivotal to commercial ambition, with all C-suite eyes eagerly anticipating HR strategic planning to show cohesion, vision and capacity. Values and guiding principles will need to be reinforced from the top to the bottom of the organisation – along with new ones to be incorporated – in light of what has been learned in these times.

Reward and remuneration
It seems churlish to speak of Reward & Remuneration, while many are beleaguered by redundancy and others in the limbo of furlough – unavoidably, it smacks of “them and us” inequality – but Government has tentatively reopened the economy and businesses must switch from crisis strategy and survival mode, to ambitious endeavour and capitalisation. However, the world has changed, as have mindsets, priorities and sensibilities and that we must not go back to normal – but forge a new one – is the mantra/cliché of our time. In the R&R firmament, what constitutes “building back better” is unquestionably at odds with the old priorities of remunerating already well remunerated shareholders. Now R&R must be redefined to reflect from the most senior level in the organisation, a culture that represents; equality, collaboration and knowledge share, across organisations. Right now, the over-used cliché in reverse, one-size-does-not-fit-all, has more credence than ever before. The pandemic has impacted everyone and as we emerge into the light, incumbents in the C-suite are now sitting on virtually worthless LTIP’s, phantom shares and totally unrealistic annual bonus plans. While they should share in any pain the organisation is going through in the short-term, the reality is, their motivation and commitment to the company will be severely tested unless changes are made. As for the wider workforce, every part of the demographic has been hit and needs support. From the students entering the workforce from a disrupted education, to the squeezed middle, struggling with not being able to see, let alone support elderly parents, whilst juggling home working with home schooling. Meanwhile, older employees have taken the brunt of redundancy and are faced with a retirement that many did not factor and have not planned for. Clearly, R&R has to incorporate much more than cash sweeteners and bonuses. Equality and inclusion must be the overarching values and, rather than set in stone, R&R must be targeted more to the individual, agile and supportive, with strategies that are in step with the new and emerging frameworks and the rhythms of the hybrid workforce. The future sees the CHRO working more closely with the CEO, the CFO and RemCo to set a sustainable and equitable future.

HR technology
Technology has enabled remote working en masse, allowing many businesses to stay operational for more than a year. Now that this pattern of work looks set to stay, ahead for HR is a most rigorous real-time bench-test for systems, tools, apps and self-service platforms, which are hoped will cohesively support dispersed employees and keep teams connected. Adopting the right technology and having the right skills will be crucial during the transition of this new hybrid workforce, to fill the void left by old workplace conventions, along with a corporate culture that can maintain motivation and ensure mental health & wellbeing of more dispersed terms. So, in this issue we ask, how can HR Directors make the right choices? What are the challenges and opportunities, potential blockers and success factors and how do we ensure that equality and inclusion are not hostages to change, by creating an inclusive work environment and culture for employees and teams working remotely to thrive? As with all our subjects this issue, we look forward to your synopsis.

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