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2024 is set to continue to present unrelenting changes that HR must navigate. With skills shortages, grappling with AI and designing total reward strategies that truly activate employees, HR increasingly has to achieve more as a core business function within constrained budgets.

An evolving business function

HR professionals have to flex and accommodate constant changes in the profession and specific sectors. However, a recent poll by Michael Page has revealed that three quarters feel that they are receiving insufficient training and support from their employers to deliver what is being asked.

A shift in expectations

HR traditionally dealt with the mechanics of people management, from payroll to benefits and any grievances. However, HR professionals tend to become involved in anything involving ‘people’, demonstrating the breadth of the profession. The function is often overlooked for investment despite delivering commercial value through employee and external stakeholder engagement. Here we outline measures that can help to ease the burden on HR professionals.

1. Designate training and development

As HR is often tasked with delivering training and creating growth opportunities through learning and development, the function is often overlooked for training itself. In fact, HR departments are often responsible for driving their own learning and development. Employers who remain open and responsive to the requirements of what HR specialists need will ensure that they tailor the support and deliver the most strategic support to a vital function.

2. Embrace disruption

66 per cent of businesses say they plan to buy AI-skilled talent externally through consultants and new talent, compared to 34 per cent who say they will upskill their existing workforce. With only 43 per cent of respondents having formal training programmes in place to improve AI skills, chief executive Denis Machuel of the Adecco Group who commissioned the survey has said this approach is “buying your way out of disruption”. He added that companies should be doing more to “reskill and redeploy teams to make the most of this technological leap” by taking a more long-term view.

3. Take a holistic approach

Firmwide surveys can help you take an evidence-based approach to designing total reward strategies that truly engage employees. Considering the effectiveness of measures by asking employees directly about the value they derive from working at an organisation establishes an immediate feedback loop and helps you identify quick wins. This evidence-based approach to total reward is an effective use of resources, as it helps HR identify what is working and what can be improved, helping target resources.

4. Communicate the value you offer

Communicate the true value you deliver to employees. Total Reward Statements are designed to underline the investment each employer makes in its employees, both tangible and intangible. They can help you to outline your employee value proposition consistently to each employee – showing what you are promising staff and what you are delivering. This supports line managers in their role too, so that they can show their teams what is being offered and supporting them in conversations around pay and performance.

5. Cultivate a strong employer brand

Company culture, employee morale and commercial delivery depends on companies having a positive employer brand in a competitive job market. The skills shortage reflects how quickly skills are evolving and how the economy is uncertain. McKinsey is taking a more ethical approach to job cuts, because employees are being offered nine months’ pay to leave the firm and look for work elsewhere. The focus on wellbeing during this cost cutting exercise is a welcome sign that employers are increasingly placing employees at the heart of business decisions, which stakeholders also want to see as they consider which companies to work with.

6. Find your brand advocates

To truly bring your employer brand to life, activate your employees. Find your success stories around the business by building employee advocates on social media to articulate why people should join you and highlight positive employee experiences. This is where the relationship between marketing and HR functions is crucial. Working closely together, marketing can highlight the incredible work already being achieved by HR across the organisation, bringing these stories directly to candidates, fellow employees and clients.

7. Take pay off of the table

We always advise taking pay off of the table as an issue to unlock the power of the wider benefits you offer as an employer across the organisation. According to Dan Pink’s Drive, employees can be actively demotivated if they do not feel like they are fairly paid. Internal equitable pay structures are becoming increasingly important, especially in light of the EU Pay Transparency Directive which will have international implications for employers’ pay arrangements. Ensuring that you have a fair system in place to objectively organise pay for equivalent roles through a job evaluation system streamlines the annual pay review so you are not reinventing the wheel every year.

8. Attract and retain talent

Around half of respondents to our spring 2024 UK Reward Management Survey expect recruitment and retention challenges over the next few months. Firmwide surveys that canvass employee opinions are a crucial way to understand the current employee experience and what is working well to engage, attract and retain the right talent. Exit interviews are also an excellent source of information as to what HR should invest and focus on. Remaining competitive in the market by benchmarking pay and benefits is one way to make your approach to total reward as efficient as possible.

Get in touch

As reward management specialists, we can help organisations align everyone to their objectives and provide job evaluation technology to ensure an objective system of fair pay exists within your organisation. We provide informative data to support an evidence-based approach and can give you the tools through our HR software to make administrative tasks more straightforward. Call us today to discover how we can lend support to help you achieve your objectives.

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