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

ISSUE 227 – Synopsis – SEPTEMBER 2023

Remuneration now
Remuneration has become a lightning rod. Essential utilities company bosses and shareholders richly rewarded whilst polluting the environment, is a saliant allegory of misaligned corporate responsibility around reward. Meanwhile, the talent shortage has inflated salary expectations in core tech skills, fuelling greater salary inequality across the wider workforce. The Government’s “levelling up” strategy is struggling to move the dial on pay equality, with key workers forced to rely on hardship charities and foodbanks. Add the impacts of COVID, industrial strikes in transport, teaching and nursing – along with a litany of social and political scandals – and it is a Hogarthian tableau informing and influencing hearts and minds of a younger demographic, that must take up the standard. This cohort demands recognition for not only its input, but its capacity for collaboration and innovation. It wants to represent and be represented by businesses that base values on supporting equality, communities and the environment. Yes, there are signs of change, with shifts in hierarchy – a flatter framework, model for collaboration, aligned with calls for new approaches to performance management, to provide more equal remuneration – and yet most firms are still wedded to OKRs and KPIs, both goal-setting methodologies, devised to stimulate old school productivity and profitability. There is a change in how we consider time and presenteeism, a mindset moving away from climbing the greasy pole in search of more reward, to motivations around opportunity, variety of experience and giving back. Above all the changes we pledge to level up, surely the bottom line is, how we set remuneration for the future and where we find new balance and measure that is fair, sustainable and equitable.

Moving from reaction to prediction
In competitive sport strategy, prediction versus reaction is a key ratio in winning or losing and in the world of the stock market, it is often said that amateurs predict and professionals react. But in the whip of change and uncertainty of work and business operation, people management is moving closer to prediction, against HR’s notorious propensity for knee-jerk reaction. Here it is quality and clarity of data and intelligence that provides speed, accuracy and agility and enables decision-making and preparation ahead of events. Predictive analytics is HR’s new superpower – driven by AI and machine learning – with the capacity to harvest, dig, extract, dissect and categorise data and identify patterns, irregularities and correlations. 24/seven, quantitative data percolates to qualitative data, which can help avoid risk, reduce human error and provide accurate forecasting and inform on crystal-clear decision-making, that can increase overall profit and nurture employee motivation, retention, engagement and productivity. Predictive also leans into being able to help employees to pre-empt what future need, around health, wellbeing and financial support, guiding, for example, pension planning and the right benefits offerings through the ups and downs of life. In short, being able to predict employee future needs is becoming an essential tool in EVP and EX competitiveness. The science fiction movie Minority Report is becoming science fact and HR must grasp it and harness its many advantages and potentials.

DEI new ideals and objectives
Many employers that are still paying lip service to Diversity, Equality and Inclusion and those that have a begrudging, bare minimum commitment to mandatory legal directives and quotas, are competing in a race to the bottom. The advent of a new era of work is witnessing a radical change in the employer/employee relationship, a shift in the contract of engagement and a realisation that diversity-of-thought and background and a workforce that represents the customer base, are vital elements of future competitiveness. Now the time for tokenism and box-ticking have gone and businesses must wake up to the reality that a bunch of DEI initiatives is not enough, this has to be approached as a complete, organisation-wide strategy. There needs to be a clear understanding that diversity is far more complex and nuanced than the basic binary issues of race and gender and that equality is more than just pay and opportunity and so the occasional cursory survey that glances across the organisation to gauge DEI, is futile. What is required is a DEI strategy – evidence-based and metrics-driven – that measures outcomes not processes, supporting and motivating positive progress towards more diversity in the boardroom and throughout the organisation and promoting corporate pride and commitment to supporting LGBTQ+. Things are beginning to change and greater diversity is demonstrating many advantages, in terms of mindset and perspective, but there is a lot more work that needs to be done, if we really want to move to genuine representation and inclusion.

First impressions count, as the saying goes, but now candidates already have a near complete knowledge of an employer on arrival and so delivering a consistent onboarding experience, that reflects espoused values, culture and brand of the organisation, is vital. Now, the fundamental change in the way that the first days in work are conducted, is of course the increase in new employer inductions taking place virtually, replacing the traditional face-to-face meet-and-greet. But while automated digital platforms provide important advantages – such as scheduling new hire learning paths and unlocking content gradually, to avoid information overload – the void of human connectivity can lead to ambiguity and disconnect, which is fuelling an increase in early departures, if the onboarded feel uniformed and left to their own devices. Therefore, line managers need to check in to make sure new hires are on track and create a welcoming and friendly human face to the onboarding experience – alongside the digital and modular digital platform – through a mix of virtual and in-person inductions. The onboarding process has undergone a fundamental shift and holds the key to building relationships and working patterns that are truly employee-centric, within a flexible hybrid model that works for people and business. But relying solely on tech could lead to a rise in new joiner attrition. The extra time and resources freed up by tech should be channelled into the human care faculties. As with all of the subjects that we are covering in this issue, we welcome your suggestions and synopsis for potential article to inform and bring insight to our readers.

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