Employee experience will be crucial to attracting and retaining top talent in 2022. Read on to find best practices to incorporate into your strategy this year. 

After a year of record-high resignation figures across nearly every industry, many HR leaders are focusing on how they can retain their top performers and attract new talent into their organisations. And as a result, employee experience is quickly becoming one of the top priorities for 2022.

Employee experience considers how your employees feel about their jobs, the physical work environment and culture within your company, and their relationships with colleagues, management, and executives. And every element is crucial to helping employees remain engaged, satisfied, and committed to staying with your company. 

If managed strategically, positive employee experiences can have huge impacts across your business – such as reducing staff turnover, improving productivity, differentiating your brand to prospective employees, and much more.  

But despite the value of positive employee experiences, many organisations still aren’t hitting the mark. In fact, Gartner reports that 87% of employees aren’t fully satisfied with their experience today.

Throughout 2022, HR leaders will need to refocus their efforts on employee experience by accurately measuring the state of their experiences today and designing strategies that truly consider the needs of their employees.

To help you design your employee experience strategy for 2022, we’ve gathered some best practices for creating positive experiences at every step of the employee journey, from the moment they join to their everyday working lives.

An employees’ experience starts from the moment they find your company

Employee experience doesn’t begin on their first day – it starts as early as the recruitment process. Research from HR Grapevine’s Employee Experience Playbook shows that 78% of candidates believe the hire experience is a good indicator of what a company’s employee experience will look like. Also, 60% of candidates talk about their application experience to others. This means it’s an essential first step to get right – otherwise, you might be jeopardising your ability to attract top talent.

A good place to start is by looking at the accessibility of your application process. According to the research from the playbook, top performers are more likely to begin applications on their mobile phones, so your website and forms need to be up to date and mobile-friendly. 

You’ll also need to give a realistic overview of the job in the application and during the interview, to help manage employees’ expectations and help them figure out if they’ll be a good fit for the role. If you can get this right from the beginning, it’s more likely you’ll find committed, well-suited employees for your company. 

Dedicated recruitment and talent management solutions can also help with tasks such as signing contracts, completing essential paperwork, and getting new employees connected with your workplace before they’ve even walked through the door. If these administration responsibilities are dealt with upfront, recruits will be able to focus on their new roles as soon as they start.

Gain insights by continuously listening 

Employee experience isn’t just something to consider for new or potential employees. Continuously listening to your current employees, especially at times of change, can help you gain the insights you need to improve their experience and create a culture of high engagement and productivity.

Research suggests formal, wide-scale surveys are a strong approach for understanding your employees’ needs. Annual surveys are particularly important to understanding how your employees are feeling on a broader scale about their roles and your company culture. During these surveys, you’ll need to consider what questions you’ll ask, how you’ll manage the data you collect, and how you’ll action the feedback. 

Delivering employee surveys around important events or big changes in the company can also help you gather insights throughout the year, and help your employees feel their opinions are valued. This might include events such as onboarding, quarterly reviews, employee exits, or changes to your working models.

With the right employee management tools, you can also track and manage the data from these surveys and compare it with fluctuations in productivity and output across the year – and even correlate the results to the actions you take to see if you’re on the right path.

With employee happiness comes success 

Employee experience also extends outside the office, with employees’ health, finances, family, and social life all impacting their overall wellbeing and experience at work. 

There’s a fine line between where your influence and responsibilities lie as an organisation – you can’t seek to support every part of your employees’ lives, but all these factors can have a significant effect on their productivity and engagement during their working day. 

A good place to focus on is making all the administration tasks outside of your employees’ roles easier, to prevent them from spending additional time outside of their working day.

For example, offering an employee portal that’s connected to your central HR system can give employees a convenient way to book annual leave, report sickness and absences, file requests, and communicate with your HR team whenever they need to.

Outside of relieving them of administration hassle, you can help employees feel satisfied in their roles by offering a clear sense of direction and progression. This can be achieved with regular catch-ups with line managers, or with a dedicated performance and learning management tool that helps employees track their progress towards goals, rewards, and promotions.

Tools like these can be an effective way to boost employees’ engagement with their roles and your company, especially if it’s paired with a modern eLearning solution that helps them take control of their own training opportunities.

Ready to kickstart your employee experience strategy in 2022?

If you’d like to discuss your employee experience strategy, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a wide range of sectors – just get in touch to see how we can help. 

The Gartner HR Priorities 2022 report is out. Jigsaw Cloud has analysed the results with thoughts and expert advice for HR leaders from our founder and managing director in our latest blog. 

HR leaders have had some big responsibilities over the past two years. They’ve helped organisations manage wide-scale disruption, adapt to new ways of working, and navigate new employee management challenges.

Going into 2022, their roles are just as crucial. They need to cement temporary changes into long-term strategies that’ll give their organisations and employees the guidance they need over the next few years.

Recently, Gartner surveyed more than 500 HR leaders across a broad range of industries to assess their priorities and expected challenges for 2022 – covering everything from the predicted skills gap and the future of leadership, to organisational design and change management. 

To put the results into context, we asked Jigsaw Cloud Founder Paul Rae and Managing Director Liz Williams to offer their expert takes on the findings and share advice for HR leaders currently planning their strategies for the coming year.

Gartner result: Building critical skills and competencies is the top priority for HR leaders in 2022, with 59% making it a priority next year

Gartner Report 2022

Liz Williams: 

“I’m not surprised to see such a strong focus on building critical skills and competencies. The pandemic made many organisations realise their resilience isn’t at the level it needs to be – and a big part of that is down to the lack of certain skills across teams.

Now, many employers and HR leaders are planning to build resilience by transforming core parts of their business, such as leadership, development, and ways of working. Strong skillsets are the foundation of any successful transformation, so it’ll be critical that HR leaders know what they have in house, what they’ll need to develop, and what they’ll need to outsource.”

Gartner result: 48% of HR leaders are concerned about their employee turnoverA chance to rethink what modern learning looks like

Gartner Report 2022

Paul Rae:

“Unfortunately, we did see an incredible level of churn across organisations during the pandemic. Peoples’ living situations changed, many rethought their careers, and some were let go or never returned from furlough.

The churn really proved that trust and loyalty are still incredibly important between employees and employers. Employees want to feel their employers are invested in their development and personal wellbeing. Also, employers need to trust their employees, and create working environments that make team members feel welcome and valued.

These concepts will be critical as employers and HR leaders face the challenge of replacing lost skills in their organisations. If not managed effectively, some employers may find themselves losing other valuable members of their teams.”

Gartner result: 92% of HR leaders expect to see at least some of their employees working remotely

Gartner Report 2022

Paul Rae:

“There’s no doubt that remote working is here to stay. For many employees, it offered greater flexibility that they won’t want to give up anytime soon. But, it does create challenges for HR leaders and employers who now need to manage a permanent hybrid workforce.

To help maintain a sense of team cohesion and keep remote employees on track, HR leaders will need to encourage managers to move away from task-based management to output-based management. Or, to put it another way, focus on the bigger picture of their teams’ outputs, rather than just individual tasks. 

This will help organisations ensure their employees don’t feel isolated from their colleagues, and help retain the sense that they’re working towards shared goals.”

Liz Williams:

“I think HR leaders will also need to identify where their responsibilities are in terms of wellbeing. During the pandemic, the line blurred between home and work for many employees. We also all got to know each other a little better, seeing the background of each other’s homes during Zoom meetings and hosting regular social catch-ups.

Now, HR leaders will need to clearly communicate the support available for remote employees and the professional standards expected from them going forward. It’ll also be important to keep remote employees in the loop just as much as those in the office – this is where a robust employee management system can really help.”

Gartner result: Just four technical requirements and three years of experience eliminates 98% of today’s candidate pool

Gartner Report 2022

Liz Williams:

“Following the pandemic, we’re now left with a candidate market that doesn’t have the skills organisations need to complete their large-scale transformation programmes – and that’s a challenge that’s faced worldwide.

I think this result is partly due to shifting employee behaviours. A recent LinkedIn survey revealed that younger workers are less likely to remain in their roles for long periods – 43% said they’d leave within two years, and only 28% said they plan to stay longer than five years.

Job hopping can be triggered by a wide range of factors too, such as financial gain, career progression, relocation, and general wellbeing. HR leaders will need to consider all these factors if they’re to retain and upskill their top performers to solve their skill shortages. And critically, it’ll involve creating the right modern learning strategy that nurtures talent effectively.”

Gartner result: 54% of HR leaders say their employees are fatigued from all the change

Gartner Report 2022

Liz Williams:

“This is one of the most important results for HR leaders to consider. Employees have been through a lot of disruption and change over the past two years, and organisations haven’t always been best-equipped to support them.

Change management strategies will need to be a key focus for HR leaders in 2022, helping employees to adjust to working patterns and structures that’ll be in place for years to come. Gartner’s three pillars – day-to-day change, trust, and team cohesion – offer a good framework for HR leaders base their strategies on, but crucially, it’s also important to communicate with employees to identify the support they’ll need.

I’d recommend looking back to the advice we shared on the return to work after the pandemic, because a lot of the suggestions remain just as important for designing change management strategies for the year ahead.”

Need helping planning for 2022?

We’ve only covered a fraction of what HR leaders will face in 2022 – there’s much more to consider across the future of work, employee management, skills development, and diversity and inclusion.

If you’d like to discuss your priorities and strategy for the year ahead, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a wide range of sectors. Just get in touch to see how we can help.

When the pandemic forced organisations to shift to remote working, many had to quickly adapt their learning and development strategies – and in some cases, even put them on pause. 

Training Industry Magazine reported that only 33% continued their training programmes as they were, while 56% retooled and repurposed theirs, and 37% delayed the rollout of new programmes altogether. 

But now that organisations have welcomed their workforces back to the office – or put the measures in place for a permanent remote workforce – many are looking to refine their learning and development strategies for 2022 and beyond. And that means finding a learning management system (LMS) that can help them deliver intuitive, modern training experiences that’ll keep employees engaged.

In our recent webinar, we explored why finding a future-proof LMS is so critical to creating successful learning and development plans today – and offered a closer look at SAP Litmos, an industry-leading LMS used by organisations worldwide.

You can watch the session on demand at any time to see the full SAP Litmos demo. In the meantime, read on to find out how a forward-thinking engineering consultancy company uses the LMS to deliver industry-renowned training courses to its clients across the world.

Merlin – Delivering essential online learning with SAP Litmos 

While SAP Litmos can be a powerful LMS for educating your own employees, it can also be a valuable system for delivering professional training courses outside of your organisation.

During our webinar, we were joined by Neil Armstrong, Engineering Director at Merlin, to hear exactly how the company has used the LMS to take its online learning to new heights in 2021.

Merlin serves a wide range of sectors, supporting any company that’s looking to drill complex wells of up to 50,000ft. Every operation involves significant risks, and if anything goes wrong, it can be catastrophic – from both a financial and safety perspective.

The risks make strategic, well-thought-out training programmes essential for any team planning drilling projects. And that’s exactly what Merlin offers – four in-depth courses covering extended reach, managed pressure, geothermal, and complex well drilling. 

A chance to rethink what modern learning looks like

Previously, all Merlin’s courses were delivered in person to clients worldwide, involving frequent travelling for the company’s instructors and a significant volume of printed resources for their learners. 

While time consuming, it was a method that proved successful for the company, generating almost £650k in revenue for Merlin in 2019. But when the COVID-19 pandemic forced educators to move online, the team had to rethink its strategy.

We had already started shifting some of our courses online by the time remote working started. We implemented our first LMS in April 2020 – it initially made us much more efficient, but we encountered a lot of problems with the system we used.

Neil Armstrong, Engineering Director at Merlin.

Merlin wanted to find an alternative LMS that offered its team greater flexibility and full control over the learning experiences they’re delivering.

“With our previous LMS, we had to rely on an external vendor any time we wanted to make changes to our courses and learning environment,” said Neil. “Even something as simple as changing our registration confirmation emails couldn’t be done in-house.”

After taking a step back to compare potential solutions – and redefine its course strategy – Merlin chose SAP Litmos to host its professional courses. 

Intuitive modern learning powered by SAP Litmos

In just three weeks, Merlin set up its entire online course library on SAP Litmos, complete with the company’s branding and customised content. Using the LMS, Merlin offers its clients intuitive self-guided and instructor-led online courses that include pre-built and custom-built modules tailored to the drilling industry. 

“Our courses have really taken off since our migration to SAP Litmos. We can now offer a wide range of interactive learning resources, pre-course and post-course assessments, course completion certificates, and much more,” explained Neil. “We can even offer our clients post-course reports on their employees’ performance, generated from data within the LMS.”

Critically, SAP Litmos offers Merlin’s team complete control over its entire learning environment – allowing trainers and administrators to easily customise course content, engage with learners, and make system changes without external support. 

SAP Litmos offers greater flexibility than our previous system, and it’s much more cost-effective. We’ve been really impressed with the results so far – we’ve delivered 31 courses on the system, received a lot of positive feedback, and significantly reduced our carbon footprint.

Neil Armstrong, Engineering Director at Merlin

Watch the full webinar to see SAP Litmos in action

Merlin’s impressive course delivery is just one example of what’s possible with SAP Litmos. Watch the webinar on demand to discover some of the systems’ most compelling features, with an expert-led demo by our own SAP Litmos Specialist Alex Rae.

(P.S. You’ll also find out how to get a free 14-day trial for SAP Litmos, so you can see how it fits into your own learning and development strategy)

Over the past five years, few terms have dominated the public consciousness as much as ‘cancel culture’. The act of cancelling most commonly refers to the withdrawal of support for specific companies or public figures. 

When celebrities are cancelled, it’s generally because their comments or behaviour have been deemed offensive or inappropriate; when brands get cancelled, it’s more likely from allegations of workforce mistreatment, or other controversial operating practices.

But it’s no longer just those in the public eye experiencing cancel culture. As social and professional lives continue to become more closely linked through social media, cancelling is becoming more common among teams in every industry. And it’s introducing new risks for employers.

Read on as we explore the impact of cancel culture on the modern workplace, analyse a real-life case, and offer advice on how you can mitigate the risks.

The risks of cancel culture for employers 

As most employees don’t have a public platform with a significant following, cancel culture takes a different form in the workplace, carrying its own risks and impacts.  

When someone gets cancelled in the workplace, it’s generally because they’ve expressed an opinion their colleagues find controversial or offensive, perhaps regarding race, diversity, or political events. As Mental Health Counsellor Stephanie Sarkis explains in her Forbes article, many people consider a cancelled person in the workplace as someone “who has displayed such an egregious violation of decent behaviour that the only way to get the message across is to ostracise him or her”.

When employees cancel a colleague, they may expect their employer to respond with equal depth of feeling, and subsequently discipline or even dismiss the individual. It’s a process that can lead to the accused employees feeling excluded from their teams, and it can quickly damage working relationships.

Pressure for dismissal can come from the public, too. It’s not uncommon for social media users to seek out the employer of someone posting offensive content and demand their dismissal. What’s more, current UK law dictates that misconduct on social media is taken as seriously as verbal misconduct in the workplace.

Employee cancelling can have a huge effect on workplace culture, and if it’s not handled strategically, it can easily lead to litigation cases – whether they’re from the cancelled employee, or those doing the cancelling. 

What happens when you handle cancellations poorly?

It’s easy to see why employers often make the knee-jerk reaction to dismiss an employee after they’ve been cancelled; if the behaviour goes ignored, it can create unrest among other employees, and even public shaming of the company.

But notable cases over the past few years have proven that responding immediately is rarely the best action, and it can even do damage in the long run.

One recent case, involving a civil servant who was fired by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) offers a prime example. When Ayub Patel was dismissed after a colleague reported that he was posting “racist and political” tweets from a personal social media account, the customer service leader handling the case failed to complete a thorough investigation.

Patel claimed that during previous social media training, he was advised that tweets would not breach the company’s behavioural policies if there was no association with the DWP on his account. The customer service leader failed to investigate Patel’s claim and didn’t thoroughly analyse Patel’s tweets before the disciplinary hearing.

Ultimately, the failure to follow the correct procedure led to an unfair dismissal result from Patel’s tribunal – despite Patel’s comments being considered as “tasteless, offensive, racist, and political.”

What can employers learn from the DWP case?

Patel’s case proves that no matter how serious the offense, it’s critical employers take the necessary investigatory measures before acting upon claims of cancellation from other employees.

Paul Holcroft, Associate Director at the Employment Law, HR, and Health and Safety consultancy group Croner, offers some important takeaways from the case: “Allegations must be made clear to employees so they are able to fully defend them, and a failure to point to specific tweets by the dismissing officer was pivotal to the unfair dismissal finding here”. 

Paul also points out that in cases like Patel’s, “factors such as a clean disciplinary record and admission of guilt will be taken into consideration by a tribunal, and therefore must also influence the employer’s ultimate decision on dismissal”.

Our advice for employers tackling cancel culture

To make sure cancel culture doesn’t damage your workplace – and brand – you need a clear, rational response strategy for allegations of inappropriate or offensive conduct.

Take the time to revise your existing workplace bullying and inclusion policies, and consider whether they need amending to cover any potential cases of cancellation – this may mean clearly defining how your organisation distinguishes between personal beliefs and harmful opinions. 

Following these revisions, ensure every team in your organisation is aware of your most recent policies, and offer a chance for employee feedback. Completing this step will make it difficult for offending employees to claim they didn’t understand the rules. 

Finally, if you haven’t already, consider appointing employee representatives across your company. Make looking out for manifestations of cancel culture part of their role, and seek to identify and solve disputes before they spiral out of control.

Today, organisations across every industry are facing the post-pandemic return to work challenge of transitioning from an emergency state into a more normal way of working. But during this transition period, little legislation has been passed to guide employers and HR leaders on their new working strategies.

The lack of legislation has put many employers in limbo, left to create their own policies around critical topics like vaccinations, isolation leave, lateral flow testing, and the return to the workplace. There’s no doubt we’ll see case laws emerge over the next few months, but in the meantime, it’s critical organisations revise their existing policies to cover new needs, so employees know exactly what to expect over the next year. 

If the transition is handled poorly, with weak direction and communication, employers will find themselves facing employee tribunals. We’ve already seen notable COVID-19-related tribunals, including employees fired for refusing to wear face masks arguing for unfair dismissal.

But with a well-structured return to normal that includes clearly defined policies and buy-in across your organisation, it’ll be easier to avoid workforce confusion and disputes. 

Here are some key steps every organisation should take to ensure your smooth post-pandemic transition.

#1 Define what you’re trying to achieve

As a first step, it’s important you identify what you want working to look like in the coming years. Do you want everyone to return to the office? Would it make more sense to commit to hybrid working? Are you looking to change core aspects of your business model?

Currently, there’s no legislation that gives employees the right to work at home; it’s down to employer discretion. However, there may still be good reasons to consider a flexible working model, not least employee retention – EY Global’s 2021 Work Reimagined Survey revealed that 54% of employees would consider leaving their job post-pandemic if they’re not afforded some form of flexible working. 

Also, just as before the pandemic working, employees do have the right to submit statutory flexible working requests that you’re legally required to consider as an employer. Employers are only able to reject requests based on specific statutory grounds, such as the burden of additional costs, detrimental impact on quality, detrimental effect on the ability to serve the customer, and more. 

#2 Set the action points you need to reach your goal

After establishing your overall ambition for your new working model, you can start to set the action points that’ll help you reach it. If you’re moving towards a full in-office or on-site workforce, you’ll need to ask those remotely hired during the pandemic to relocate, and you’ll need to create policies around new considerations, including self-isolation and lateral flow testing.

There’s no legislation in place to tell employers how to manage employees that need to self-isolate. The UK Government is currently offering a £500 payment to anyone on a low income that’s asked to self-isolate – but many employees won’t meet this quota, and there’s no telling how long the contribution will be available for. 

Importantly, as Ashtons Legal explains, it’s an offence for employers to ask employees to work anywhere other than where they’re self-isolating. Instead, you’ll need a policy that sets clear guidelines on your expectations from employees during their self-isolation period.

Similarly, there are no legal guidelines around lateral flow testing. While you don’t have a statutory obligation to make workplace testing mandatory, you might still want to encourage it throughout your workplace – especially for high-contact roles, such as warehouse assistants. 

If you take this approach, you’ll need to talk to your employees or a trade union representative around how testing will be carried out, how their data will be stored, and what support you’ll provide if an employee tests positive. 

#3 Communicate with your employees – and offer a chance for feedback

Like any new mandate in the workplace, prompt and clear communication will be key to the success of your new working model. It’s critical you’re transparent about what you expect of your employees over the coming months, while offering them a chance to voice their opinions. 

Senior employment solicitor Caroline Oliver reiterates the importance of consultation with staff, explaining clinically vulnerable employees will have “genuine concerns about returning to work or the commute on public transport”. She also suggests that “employers may expose themselves to discrimination claims under the Equality Act if they do not tread carefully”.

However, by giving your employees the chance to share their grievances before any policies are made permanent, you’ll reduce the likelihood that you’ll face any litigation cases in the future. Also, if you have the resources, it’s a good idea to dedicate members of management to gather and manage concerns on an ongoing basis – so you can action them before they escalate.

#4 Finalise your plan and share it with your colleagues

As a final step, you’ll need to put your new policies and guidance in writing and share them across the teams in your organisation. In some cases, such as changing employees’ permanent working locations, this step might even involve amending employee contracts.

We’d also recommend reminding employees of new practices and policies, whether it’s through signage across your workplace, team meetings, or company-wide emails. A gentle reminder will ensure all employees are well-informed, and nobody will be able to claim new policies weren’t properly communicated.

At too many organisations, employees’ learning and development (L&D) needs get permanently put on the back burner – or consigned to an annual, team-based training day, that’s forgotten the moment staff return to their posts. But research shows there’s every reason for employers to take a smarter, more robust approach.

You only need to look at employee attitudes to get a sense of the value of L&D: LinkedIn’s 2018 Workplace Learning report revealed 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development. Similarly, the absence of structured L&D can have damaging effects – a survey by go2HR showed that 40% of employees who receive poor job training leave their positions in the first year.

While the benefits of investing in your workforce are hard to ignore, putting an effective strategy in place that generates positive results can be challenging. If you’re looking for practical advice, SAP Litmos has published an excellent guide for building your strategy and developing a culture of learning across your teams. 

It’s available to read now – but before you jump in, read on, and we’ll unpack the three key pillars of modern learning discussed in the guide.

#1 Learning and development needs to be continuous

One of the most important considerations of L&D is that it needs to be ongoing, not a process you complete at the start of your role or just on dedicated team development days. Employees need to be able to challenge themselves to learn new skills and knowledge throughout their careers.

The benefits of continuous learning are twofold: employees feel like their employers are invested in their development, and it’s more cost-effective for organisations to train and upskill their existing employees than rehire. It can have a significant impact on employee morale, too – a LinkedIn Pulse survey revealed that having opportunities for development is the second most important factor in workplace happiness, after the work itself.

Successful, continuous learning needs to involve personalised and actionable development plans mapped to company objectives and individual career paths.

These action plans can include multiple forms of learning, from formal options such as university courses and online workshops to less formal options like research-based and on-the-job training. Critically, whatever employees’ development plans include, managers need to be involved and onboard – otherwise, employees might be hesitant to give up their working time.

#2 Learning and development needs to be content-rich

Content-rich learning means delivering intuitive, engaging content as part of your L&D strategy that makes it simpler for employees to learn. And with such a wide variety of digital courses available, it’s easy to offer employees valuable L&D plans without creating your own materials. 

For common topics like customer service, leadership, and compliance, it’s often more cost-effective to purchase professionally developed, video-based content for your teams – giving managers more time for high-level strategic planning. 

It’s an L&D trend that’s been especially useful as more industries have embraced remote working. Since the pandemic, 73% of L&D professionals expect to spend less on instructor-led training, while 79% expect to spend more on online learning.

According to the LinkedIn 2021 Workplace Learning Report

Ideally, you’ll want to find a unified learning management platform that offers pre-packaged courses and resources in a single environment – one that makes it easy for managers to curate personalised learning plans and simplifies the learning experience for employees.

#3 Learning and development needs to be immediate

With more employees taking control of their learning and development, it’s important employers offer immediate access to the resources they need, whenever they need them. 

“Employees use social media in their spare time to satisfy their curiosity right when they need it. It should be exactly the same with work. We must create corporate learning experiences that match consumer-grade experiences.”

Banco Santander’s Global Head of Knowledge, Elizabeth Galli

And creating these fast, consumer-grade experiences is easier with the right technology behind you. Global consultant McKinsey suggests that technology platforms – like next-generation learning-management systems, embedded performance-support systems, and learning assessment systems – are the most significant enablers of “just-in-time” learning. They’ll help you deliver L&D content in convenient formats that are accessible from wherever your employees are working.  

McKinsey also suggests that for such technologies to have the greatest impact, they should be fitted into your overall system architecture, supporting the entire talent cycle from recruitment and onboarding to career management and succession planning.

Embrace modern learning across your organisation – read the guide

Understanding these key pillars will set you in good stead as you launch your new L&D strategy. But there’s still a lot more to consider.

The SAP Litmos guide breaks the path to modern learning into three straightforward steps that’ll help you identify what L&D should look like in your organisation, and the actions you’ll need to take to put your plan into action. 

Download your copy of 3 steps to modern eLearning here.

For the last 16 years, Jigsaw Cloud has been helping Professional Services companies across the UK and Ireland to help make their employees happier and more productive and to ensure they are appropriately skilled. We understand that your people are critical to the success of your business, so creating excellent employee experiences from hire-to-retire is essential.

That’s why we’ve collated the 3 most crucial HR priorities now facing professional services firms…

Source: SAP

Source: Forrester

Source: Forrester

We developed a hire-to-retire HR Cloud talent management system, Smart Start for Professional Services, to improve your employee experience and make it easier and faster for you to achieve these top 3 HR priorities.

Download the infographic to find out how you can achieve greater ROI from your HR tech, save thousands of hours in HR admin time and implement the world’s leading HR software within just 10 weeks.

There’s no doubt most sectors will feel the effects of the pandemic for years to come, and employers will need to make some strategic changes if they’re to adapt and thrive. 

But right now, HR leaders face a more immediate challenge – helping those who’ve been furloughed or working from home to adjust to life back amongst their colleagues. 

Here are our top four recommendations for HR leaders seeking to smooth the return to the workplace and drive the best possible outcomes for their organisation and its staff. 

#1: Focus on their first week back 

Although many employees may have already returned to the office, Government advice to ‘work from home if you can’ didn’t lift until the 17th May, which means a lot of people will only just be restarting their daily commute. And with the furlough scheme potentially in place until September, some organisations will be putting up the ‘Welcome Back!’ banners for months to come. 

The first week back will be a big moment for many employees, so it’s critical you consider the pressures they might be facing. For example, parents and carers might be leaving their children for the first time in a year, and some employees may have anxieties about workplace safety. 

Arrange for their line manager to chat to them informally, perhaps over coffee, to find out what they’ve been struggling with during the pandemic, and let them know the changes your organisation has made. This is also a good chance to identify how they’d like to work in the future – whether they want to be in the office permanently or just a couple of days a week. 

#2: Empower your line managers to support employees

The ongoing return to the workplace isn’t just a challenge for HR – it’s a challenge for line managers too. They need to play a crucial role in helping employees adjust and keeping teams connected across locations.  

As an HR leader, it’s your responsibility to empower line managers with the tools they need to guide their team. This could be as simple as providing topics and questions for those informal, coffee-fuelled chats – as well as for ongoing one-to-ones – or ensuring any new policies are communicated and additional training is made available before their teams return. 

Mental health charity Mind backs up the importance of line managers, with some helpful advice in its 2021 Return to the Workplace report: “It is important to make the return easy and barrier-free; recognising different personality types may need additional support and the role of leaders in setting expectations, providing reassurance, confidence and setting company-wide goals and intentions.” 

#3: Set realistic expectations for board members

Just like the shift to home working at the start of the pandemic, there’s a good chance the transition back to shared workplaces will impact company performance – and you need to set realistic expectations for board members. 

You might see efficiency drop as employees readjust to their old environment, and ease back into the social context of the office, especially if you’ve made new hires during the pandemic that haven’t yet met their colleagues in person. 

PWC’s 2021 Reboot: Getting back to the workplace guide recommends using your company data to model your return-to-workplace plan for specific worksites and roles in your business. It’ll help you make data-driven recommendations to board members on the safety measures your business needs to put in place, and it’ll help you show them the impact of the return to the workplace and set realistic expectations. 

#4: Clear communication will be key to success 

In all the recommendations we’ve made, clear communication between employees, managers, and HR leaders will be critical to success. 

What will really effective communication look like? Clearly defined policies with minimal backtracking, opportunities for employees to raise any concerns, and complete transparency between management and staff on company changes and expectations. 

It’s important to recognise your team might not get everything right first time, but if you make employees part of the process, they’ll be much more invested, and more understanding when you need to revisit and adapt your strategy. 

Need help navigating the impact of COVID-19?

We’ve only touched on a few of the issues HR leaders must navigate when welcoming employees back to the workplace – but we’re on hand to support you through whatever challenges you might face.  

At Jigsaw, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a diverse range of sectors. Just get in touch to see how we can help.  

Now that businesses are starting to recover from the impacts of the pandemic, many are placing a new focus on their resilience to future disruption and uncertainty.  

Our recent survey with HR Grapevine asked more than 200 HR professionals from a diverse range of sectors about resilience in the workplace. Unsurprisingly, the overwhelming majority (88%) believe resilience is very important in their organisation. What’s more, many HR leaders already have ideas around how they’re going to improve resilience, from improving communication to adapting working arrangements. 

But it’s not always a straightforward task. There are often multiple barriers in the way to strong organisational resilience – so we’ve gathered some key tips on where you can start.   

#1: Define who should be driving resilience in your organisation 

Like any major organisational change, building resilience across your company relies on strong leadership – so it’s critical everyone in the business knows who’s leading the initiative. 

Our research revealed 60% of HR professionals view driving resilience as an HR responsibility, and the majority also think it lies with senior management (69%) and (63%). While fewer HR professionals thought the initiative should be shared with other teams, 50% still thought of it as a line management responsibility, and 41% as an employee responsibility.  

The results suggest a strong case for shared ownership between HR and other stakeholders – which is why it was promising to see that 69% of professionals feel executive leadership understands the importance of resilience, and 83% believe the same for HR.  

The shared responsibility will certainly help you make a strong push towards resilience, but don’t forget to consult with your entire organisation – from managers to employees – along the way, to see what areas can be improved, and how. 

#2: Identify the barriers to organisational transformation 

For any business trying to boost its resilience, some form of organisational transformation will be involved – whether it’s an operational change, a shift in business objectives, or a new organisational design. That’s why it was reassuring to see that 69% of those surveyed said their organisation is planning to transform in at least one of these areas. 

But transformations always involve challenges – so you’ll need to identify the barriers that stand in your way and how you can overcome them. In our survey, HR professionals suggested the top three barriers across their organisations are culture (55%), leadership mindset (52%), and workforce mindset (48%).  

Of course, these barriers will be different depending on your sector and the size of your workforce. But the results do suggest a compelling case for improving communication and engagement across teams to ensure complete buy-in for your objectives.  

#3: Spot the technology gaps across your workforce 

When the pandemic forced employees to work from home, many businesses had to make quick changes to their technology portfolio – like securing VPNs for safe remote working, buying new equipment for team members, and investing in new communication platforms. That’s why it’s not surprising to see 43% of HR professionals claim the technology they already have in place would enable their organisation to be resilient in the face of uncertainty.  

But there’s still a surprising 49% that claim their technology is only ‘somewhat’ strong enough to be resilient, and 8% say they don’t have the necessary technology. What’s more, only 16% of respondents say they’re using new or improved technology to improve resilience in their organisation.  

To become truly resilient to future disruption, it’ll be critical teams have the necessary tools to adapt with short notice like they did at the start of the pandemic. If you’re unsure of where your technology gaps lie, it’s a good idea to talk to your line managers and employees to find out what tools they need now, and what technical challenges they faced during the pandemic.   

Building people and organisational resilience – read our report 

We’ve only just scratched the surface of what will be required to build a resilient workplace – and how HR professionals are adapting today. 

Our new report takes a more in-depth look at the survey results, revealing some key insights from HR professionals across sectors like technology, engineering, financial services, and many more. You’ll also find some expert advice on how you can start improving your organisational resilience, from companies like Fujitsu Global, Clarion Housing Group, and Ella’s Kitchen. 

The pandemic asked every workforce to react quickly. For many organisations, it meant furloughing employees and adapting to home working – for some, it meant halting operations completely.

Whatever short-term changes you were forced to make, there’s a good chance some will translate to long-term shifts now that people are returning to the office.

We can’t be certain about what your workforce will look like from here on – it’ll naturally differ depending on your sector, demographic of employees, and line of work. But there are at least three post-pandemic trends few HR leaders will be able to ignore.

1. Flexible working: You’ll need to adapt to new employee demands

As lockdowns extended throughout 2020, employees started to see the benefits of home working. In July, a Lenovo survey of the global workforce found nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents felt they were more productive working from home than when they were in the office.

Forced exposure to different working styles has left many employees looking for greater flexibility in their roles or their hours as they begin their return to the workplace. And employers that can’t meet these desires might find their top talent leaving for more flexible companies.

Big-name brands like PwC are already showing the way for flexible working, offering employees the chance to work from home a few days a week and start as early or late as they like. There’s no doubt that employees will benefit from the shift towards greater freedom, but it’ll create new challenges for HR leaders.

You’ll need to ensure you have a reliable, cloud-based system for employees to track their working hours and locations, so every manager knows where their team members are and when they’re contactable. And if you haven’t already, it’ll be worth investing in an easy-to-use communication platform to keep your teams connected – whether it’s just used for quick messaging, like Slack, or it’s an entire collaboration platform like Office 365.

2. Workplace safety: Your employees will expect changes to their workplace

While many employees will spend more time at home in their working week, some will still want or need to be back in their place of work, and you’ll need to make some adjustments to ensure it’s a safe environment.

Some employees have already expressed anxieties about returning to the workplace; CIPD’s Good Work Index reportrevealed that 21% of employees currently going into their normal place of work aren’t satisfied with their employer’s health and safety measures. If your business doesn’t meet the expectations of their employees – and the safety measures recommended by the Health and Safety Executive – your company may face litigation from concerned workers.

Fortunately, many of these measures will be easy for most organisations to put in place, like maintaining social distancing between employees, regularly cleaning workspaces, and ensuring proper ventilation in all indoor spaces.

Some measures will be more challenging to navigate, like offering sick pay for COVID-19 isolation, enforcing vaccine passports, and encouraging lateral flow testing for your workforce. As ACAS reports, there’s currently no legal requirement for employers to test staff for COVID-19 or enforce vaccines, but it might make some employees feel more comfortable as they readjust to life in a shared workplace.

Whatever decisions you make, it’ll be critical that you establish clear company policies for your organisation and communicate them effectively with every employee, no matter whether they’re working remote or returning to their daily commute. You should also be prepared to change these policies as case laws are introduced.

3. Performance management: You may need a new way to track career progression

If you start offering employees flexible working opportunities, spreading your workforce across disparate locations, your business will face new challenges around tracking performance and career progression. And if you fail to tackle them, both employees and line managers are likely to suffer.

A recent LinkedIn survey found that 86% of workers felt the need to prove to bosses they are working hard and deserve to keep their jobs. What’s more, Owl labs remote working survey revealed that 65% of employee managers are concerned about the career implications of employees working remotely.

The specific performance management and career progression challenges you face will depend on the sector you operate in, your company’s current progression structure, and your company culture. For example, if your line managers rely on spotting talent ‘on the shop floor’, you’ll need to find alternative ways for employees to prove their skills.

With a cloud-based performance management platform, you can offer employees the chance to submit evidence of their performance and track it against specific career progression goals. It’ll also help your line managers track team performance against company objectives to ensure everyone is on the right track.

Need help navigating the impact of COVID-19?

As an HR leader, you have a big responsibility to help your business adapt to the long-term impacts of the pandemic – but you don’t need to face the challenge alone.

At Jigsaw, we have consultants with decades of HR experience across a diverse range of sectors. Just get in touch to see how we can help.