• Pem Paddick

HR Strategy – What should be your priorities for 2022?

Back in late 2019/early 2020, rumours a highly infectious virus known as Covid 19 was about to spread across the world.

Fast forward 2 years and I think we can all agree the last 2 years have been pretty exceptional and life changing. So many people have been impacted, in so many different ways, as a result of the restrictions imposed to quash the spread of the virus. The world of business has been impacted in a phenomenal way and it may well be the case working life will never revert to how it was. The pandemic has brought about a change of emphasis for many people, having a knock-on effect for many businesses regardless of size or industry.

"So, with this backdrop, how do you go about setting your HR strategy for 2022? "

Stage of business – it is important to understand the stage the business is at as this is crucial to shaping the HR strategy. For example, the business may be at a stage of growth and as such, recruitment may be a key priority – what roles do you need to recruit for to support that growth, how will you resource these roles, what will the budget look like?

If the immediate future is more about consolidation, the emphasis may be on retention. So, how will you retain your employees, keep them engaged and motivated. Does the current environment allow for this? It is also wise to take into account how the world of employment is changing and ensure, where appropriate, the HR strategy addresses changing trends so your business doesn’t get left behind

Simple steps for developing an effective HR strategy:

  • Align with business needs – what needs to happen so your employees know what they are working towards?

  • Plan, prepare and measure – develop a plan to include goals and objectives

  • Buy-in form key stakeholders – if you can involve key stakeholders with aspects of the proposed HR strategy it often helps with its implementation, as you have some influential customers onside already!

  • Communication – promote the strategy and any new initiatives or ways of doing things and get buy in from key stakeholders. Identify opportunities for collaboration, a great way to get support too.

  • What does success look like – how will you know if its working, what is your aim?

  • Review – regularly review to track progress against business goals and ensure still relevant.

Establishing HR priorities

The following expands on my recent post on LinkedIn – the ones most relevant to your business will obviously depend on your business plan and the HR priorities emerging from it, however, there are some key trends that are worth including:

Mental Health and Wellbeing – this is likely to be a priority for most businesses, especially as we emerge from 2 years of restrictions and life starts to get back to some normality. Given what we have all been through, mental health issues are at the highest they have ever been as people come to terms with grief, loneliness, isolation and the fallout from these difficult years. People are re-evaluating their lives and what makes them happy and this includes having higher expectations of their employers about how they will support their mental health.

"How will you HR strategy incorporate this and how will you establish what your employees need n terms of support? What will be the role of line managers? "

Recruitment – if the business plan focuses on growth, then clarity around the types of roles required to support will be needed. Secondly a plan around how these roles will be sourced needs to be in place. At the time of writing the UK is facing a record number of job vacancies and, as such, careful thought needs to be given around how and where you will attract quality candidates. It really is a candidate’s market out there right now.

Employer Branding – this has close links to recruitment (and retention). Candidates are looking beyond the salary and role – they want to know how you will support their mental health, whether you offer flexible working, what you do around corporate social responsibility and the environment. Increasingly people are looking to work for businesses whose values align with their own. In view of this you need to establish your employer brand – how do you want to position yourself and your brand, how will you stand out and how will you market your business?

Retention – whether the business plan is about steady state, consolidation or growth retention of employees will be key and this also has close links to employer brand. In many ways the requirements and expectations of existing employees may not be vastly different to those of potential new recruits. However, you need to establish what the expectations are and formulate an action plan around same. If employee turnover creeps up this can have a negative impact on employer brand.

Flexible working – an output of recent times means there is a higher expectation around flexible working. Obviously, it depends on the type of business as to how far you can integrate flexible working. However, the key here will be to understand what your employees are looking for in terms of flexibility – a blanket approach will not necessarily be the right one, so a strategy which seeks to have conversations with employees to understand what works for them and tailor solutions around needs, is more likely to be successful.

Onboarding – clearly has a link to recruitment, but worthy of being part of an overall HR strategy in its own right. Having a slick onboarding process and one which engages the candidate before they start work will be key to their overall experience and first impressions are important. There is a lot of software out there all aimed at improving the onboarding process and welcoming the new employee into the business, thus allowing for a quicker integration into the business.

Employee benefits – the emphasis may well have changed over recent years and what has been in place historically may not be fit for purpose any longer. Therefore, a review of employee benefits could be an important part of you HR strategy moving forward to enhance and bolster the employee offering, ensuring it is more relevant.

Menopause support – this has gained much traction over the last 18 months and we are starting to see the taboo surrounding this subject lifting. Employees who are going through the menopause are the fastest growing work demographic and as such this has a worthy place in any forward-thinking HR strategy. Consider how you might encourage open conversation around menopause so that all employees have a better understanding and awareness of how menopause affects those going through it. Give some thought as to what your menopause policy might include and how this dovetails with any health and wellbeing strategy. Don't forget that all policies should be inclusive eg Andropause support.

Review your performance management cycle and policies – 2022 is a timely point to review how you manage performance as what you have in place may not be fit for purpose or relevant any longer – especially when we take into account how the working landscape has changed in the last few years and the shift of emphasis to managing by output. Not only this, but there has also been a growing trend towards having regular performance conversations as opposed to the traditional annual appraisal. Many employees feel a more regular approach is less intimidating and more motivating and employers find more frequent performance conversations keeps thing fluid and enables adaptability if business priorities change.

Upskill your HR team – for those businesses large enough to employ an HR team, and given the changes we are seeing in employment, it is important the team has the skills to support the business direction any new HR initiatives.

Ultimately, what your HR strategy looks like will be dependent on the stage of your business and its individual needs. However, ignoring emerging HR trends such as the ones highlighted above should not be ignored – especially if you want to be an employer of choice and create a positive and attractive employer brand.

Here at Treenhill Consulting, we can help you shape and implement your HR strategy – just get in touch for an initial discussion about your business and how we can help you.