How to change human resources practices for an uncertain future
As the world around us continues to evolve, so does the role of human resources. With advances in technology and cultural norms, HR managers' interaction with employees has dramatically changed. Yet, these changes are nothing compared to what the business world may see in the years to come. HR managers in all fields, including accounting and audit, must adapt their practices to meet the challenges that lie ahead. By being proactive and implementing the right practices, they can prepare for the future.
What are the biggest challenges facing HR teams?
Human resources professionals play an essential role in organizations, managing everything from employee recruitment and training to benefits administration and compliance with labor laws. As with any job, but especially in a profession focused on human interactions, there are several challenges that your HR team faces daily.
Recruitment is the process of identifying, screening and selecting qualified candidates for open roles within a company. It is a critical function of human resources, as it helps ensure businesses have the talent they need to meet their goals.
In recent years, recruitment has been shifting away from traditional methods, such as print ads and personal referrals, to more modern approaches, such as online job boards and social media. However, several factors may influence recruitment in the digital age:
- One is extreme inflation, which can make finding and retaining talent challenging. In a growing gig economy, employers are competing with gig workers for the same talent. More often, people are looking for bigger paychecks and better work-life balance, which gig work offers.
- Another is the demand for certain skilled labor types, leading to bidding wars among employers.
- Additionally, the proliferation of social media has made it easier for candidates to research companies and find out about job openings.
As a result, the ever-increasing pace of change means businesses must be able to adapt quickly to new market conditions. To succeed in the future, HR managers must be aware of these and other trends to adjust their recruitment strategies accordingly.
As the business landscape continues to change, HR teams must adapt their talent management practices to ensure they attract and retain top talent. On top of this, they must handle a range of issues, such as:
- fielding employee complaints
- mediating disputes
- addressing employer concerns
In the past, HR teams have been largely successful in handling these types of issues. However, there has been a growing trend toward remote work, which creates new obstacles for HR teams.
For instance, the remote work trend may pose a challenge in businesses such as accounting firms, banks and other organizations that require in-person interaction with customers or clients.
Employee well-being is essential to the success of any company. Happy and healthy employees are more productive, have lower presenteeism rates, and are less likely to leave their jobs. In the face of an uncertain future, accounting firms must change their human resources practices to prioritize employee well-being.
There are several factors influencing employee well-being in the digital age, such as:
- Social media — Social channels can be a source of stress, as employees compare their lives to the perfectly curated lives of others.
- Overexposure to news — Overexposure to constant news cycles can cause anxiety and depression as employees worry about the state of the world.
- The constant need to feel connected — The always-on culture of the digital age can lead to feelings of anxiety and burnout as employees feel the need to be available 24/7.
Companies must understand how the mental health of their employees affects revenue and overall productivity. To combat these effects, companies need to create a well-being strategy that considers their employees' unique needs. This may include providing access to mental health resources, offering flexible working arrangements, and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
Training and development
As the business world changes, so must the training and development programs companies offer their employees. To stay ahead of the curve, businesses must ensure their employees constantly learn new skills.
This can be a challenge in the digital age, as employees' tools and technologies are constantly changing. To keep up, businesses must invest in employee training and development. This may include providing access to:
- online courses
- external trainers
- conferences and workshops
Additionally, businesses need to create a culture of lifelong learning so that employees are motivated to stay up-to-date on the latest industry trends. Employers can provide opportunities for employees to learn new skills and knowledge on the job and offer incentives to employees who complete training programs.
How to prepare your HR team for the future
The future is uncertain, but there are steps that business leaders can take to ensure their HR teams are ready.
Provide them with new technology
The tools and technologies that all teams use are constantly changing. Therefore, business leaders must provide their HR teams and other departments with the latest and greatest products and software. This is especially true for accounting firms, IT firms and other organizations that are undergoing rapid transformation and need to process a large amount of data.
Some of the most crucial tools to have include:
- Engagement integration software — helps teams track employee engagement with clients and identify areas for improvement.
- Employee training platforms — helps businesses create and deliver employee training programs.
- Integrated data compilation programs — these end-to-end solutions streamline how you carry out your company's data preparation, compilation and task reviews.
- Data analysis and auditing software — used to detect errors, optimize processes, and ensure compliance with regulations. It provides users with data analysis capabilities that help improve efficiency and effectiveness.
Having tools such as these at your disposal will help your HR team stay ahead.
Prioritize data security
Data security will be increasingly important for HR teams as they handle sensitive employee data. Therefore, business leaders must work with their HR teams to develop a strong cybersecurity strategy. This may include:
- restricting access to data
- backing up data
- monitoring data activity
- using encryption to protect data
- creating a disaster recovery plan
Without a robust data security strategy, businesses remain vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. Taking steps to ensure data security will help protect your company's most valuable asset: its people.
Familiarize them with the new workforce
The future workforce will be composed of millennials and Generation Z. These generations have different priorities and preferences than previous ones. To appeal to them, businesses need to understand their needs. Some of the most important things to keep in mind when recruiting from these generations include:
- Flexibility — Offer flexible work arrangements such as remote work, part-time work and compressed work weeks.
- Work-life balance — Offer paid time off, family-friendly policies and wellness programs.
- Professional development opportunities — Offer mentorship programs, continuing education opportunities and training programs.
- Generous compensation and benefits — Offer competitive salaries, stock options and investment matching.
While these demands are not entirely new, how these generations respond to them is. Younger generations respond to recruiting strategies differently than older generations in a few key ways.
- First, they are more likely to respond to online recruiting methods such as job boards and social media. Businesses need to have an online presence to reach these groups.
- Second, they are more likely to be attracted to companies with a strong social media presence. This is because social media allows them to get a better sense of the company's culture.
- Third, younger working generations are more purpose-driven. They want to work for companies that have a positive impact on society.
To appeal to these generational differences, businesses need to change their recruiting strategies and perhaps the work culture itself.
Develop an upskilling strategy
Upskilling is the process of teaching employees new skills. This is important because it allows accounting practices to keep up with changing technologies and demands. It also helps retain employees, as they are more likely to stay with a company that offers them opportunities to develop their skills.
Some ways to upskill your workforce include:
- accommodating all types of learning
- offering various training programs
- implementing mentorship programs
- encouraging employees to take courses
- creating task forces to explore new technologies
- tracking and analyzing progress to understand what works best
Upskilling your workforce will help ensure your firm can meet future demands and create a competitive advantage.
Change is inevitable, and accounting leaders need to be prepared for it. By aligning HR practices with business strategies, practices can ensure they are better equipped to manage whatever comes their way.