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.

A new way of working – a new way of managing SAP SuccessFactors implementations 

We all know what happened in 2020 and the changes business had to make because of it: To the way in which they worked, how they supported employees and how they managed projects.  

As we start a new year – with many of the same challenges still in place – we wanted to take a look at some of the ways that we, as a HR technology business, have adapted the way we manage SAP SuccessFactors implementations. The lessons we’re about to share will be useful for anyone out there struggling to decide if now is the right time to embark on a big (or small) IT project and how they can go about it. 

Let’s take a look … 

The way its always been 

First of all, who are we and how do we implement projects? We’re an SAP SuccessFactors implementation partner – that’s what we do; implement software, day-in day-out. And we’ve been doing that for more than 15 years. As with many other businesses, we’d typically work on a client site for all key stages of a project: kick-off, scoping, and training workshops. All managed face to face, and typically done over full days. 

So, what’s changed with our SAP SuccessFactors implementation methodology? Well, quite a lot.  

Let’s take a look at how we’ve adapted 3 key stages of a typical project … 

1. We reduced the time spent in kick-off & configuration workshops 

As a business, we’re very familiar with remote working, but this has been a new approach for many of our customers, who are now working from home for the first time and adapting their working practices.  

We gave a lot of thought to how customer attention spans would change online Vs face to face. How would decisions be affected? What impact would it have on motivation – and their desire to keep momentum going? 

We soon realised that full day workshops (which would traditionally be anywhere from two to six days in duration) just wouldn’t work, so we developed a new online series broken up into two-hour chunks and taking place over a couple of weeks. Participants were focused, found it easier to reflect on the previous session and came to the next session fresh and motivated. 

The other thing we did was adjust our working hours to accommodate different time zones. Not only did this this ensure more attendees could join kick-off meetings and training workshops from more locations, but because delegates didn’t have to travel (many of which would fly from across Europe or even the US) the customer was saving huge sums of money. A win-win all round.

2. We introduced a new step: system familiarisation

During a traditional implementation, we would typically move from scoping and configuration, straight into user acceptance testing (UAT). This round of testing was often hampered because the customer would have to learn the system as well as begin testing their HR processes at the same time. This approach was already under review but COVID accelerated us changing our methodology.

Therefore, we introduced a new step prior to the implementation phase – familiarisation. This meant providing users with access to the pre-configured system, so they had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the new software before attending configuration workshops and making decisions on how the new solution should be set up to accommodate their processes. 

The new step included ‘surgery’ sessions, allowing customers to ask questions about their system’s basic configuration, so they could get a better understanding of the fundamentals of the software they were going to be using and therefore be better prepared for the next stage of the implementation journey. 

3. We developed blended learning programme 

Most of our SAP SuccessFactors training is done in one full-day session but given the challenges this would pose if we simply swapped it to online learning (no-one can stay focused online for 6 – 8 hours!), we introduced a blended approach: training was delivered in more agile, bite-size sessions of 2-3 hours.  

Our new SAP SuccessFactors online training programme was divided into four sessions: system theory and use cases, homework (where customers would access and test the new software environment), and Q&A (where we would be available to answer all their questions on the solution).  

In summary 

We hope this has provided a valuable insight into how we’ve adapted our ways of working during lockdown and useful tips for your own system implementations.  

We really have seen how just a few small and simple changes can make a big difference to project engagement and adoption, as well as time and cost savings.

For us, we’ll continue to adopt this approach post-lockdown, as it really is the way forward and a win-win for everyone involved.  

Four key points we want to leave with you:  

If you need help with a new HR platform – or if you have an existing one and the implementation isn’t going well – get in touch to see how we can help. 

Whenever we assess risk in business, there’s a category that’s hard to build a strategy for: unknown unknowns. Well, 2020 brought one to the fore and, while we might not have been able to plan for the disruption caused by coronavirus, we have certainly learnt how to react.

The job of business leaders is to equip their organisations for a less bumpy ride in the future. While we can’t know what scenarios we will face, we can ensure that we have a clear view of our business, our people and that we are in a position to utilise data to help us with decision making.

HR leaders will find themselves at the heart of post-pandemic transformations, due to the sheer amount of data they handle and also because any future plans should place people front and centre, ensuring a positive employee experience can be achieved, whatever the landscape.

So, let’s start there. How can you optimise your HR function for the new normal?

Create The Right Connectivity

The massive surge in home working driven by the pandemic is one scenario that is getting airtime around board tables globally. Keeping in touch with people – in a positive way – and recognising their issues, as well as keeping business messaging alive, is a challenge that needs tackling to ensure we can address mental health and poor employee experience properly.

There are a few critical success factors to achieving the right solution:

Stephen Bevan, Head of HR Research at the Institute for Employment Studies (IES), contributed to a recent report from Jigsaw Cloud and People Management Insight, stating “employers need to ensure their systems and processes are sufficiently robust enough to support the mental health of their staff permanently”.

By using technology as a solution to the problems of remote working, organisations can be more in touch with all aspects of employee health and wellbeing, from feelings of isolation to monitoring individual and team performance.

Embrace AI And Automate

People are afraid of AI because they worry it might take away their job, but Dave Coplin, founder of The Envisioners and another contributor to the report from Jigsaw Cloud and People Management Insight explains that it’s neither artificial nor intelligent, but is actually automation.

HR teams will gain more than most when it comes to automation with admin typically consuming 60% of their role. Rather than removing the need for people, technology deals with the grunt-work and frees up the team to add real value.

Because of its increased popularity, AI technology is reducing in price and is therefore within the reach of many SMEs who previously could not have considered it.

Technology can be used in many ways to improve employee experience, from simply providing the platform for social check-ins to proactively assessing the wellbeing of employees.           

In future, businesses will increase agility to cope with emerging situations, and freeing up over half of the HR resource to work on strategy and innovation that drives real improvement will be a quick win.

Refocus Your Definition Of Success

Trust has long been a factor in the success or failure of businesses, but the pandemic has thrown a new light on an age-old issue: can employers trust employees to put in the hours when they aren’t at their desk?

This attitude has been reinforced by old-fashioned performance assessments which involve ticking boxes to determine whether certain activities have been completed. Stephen Bevan believes the pandemic is “…. getting managers to decide what they value most: inputs, like the number of hours they spend at their screens or the number of emails they send, or outputs, such as creativity, innovation, collaboration and quality of the work they produce.”

These less tangible outputs are easily measured by technology such as SAP SuccessFactors and, by adopting a solution which links employee performance to training and development opportunities and physical or mental health considerations, companies can work towards a positive employee experience.

Stay focused on the positive though; a more worrying capability of technology is surveillance. This certainly isn’t part of a people-focused approach.

In summary, we can do much more by optimising and automating tasks that use time in the working day. By valuing how we use our workforce, we can improve employee experience by spending time where it really adds value. Then we’ll be ready for the new normal, whatever it may hold.

If you’d like to discuss how HR technology can play a role in addressing the new normal, get in touch

You may also be interested in reading our blog, 3 reasons to prioritise employee experience in the new normal.

Find out about the crucial role HR technology plays in today’s new normal with our Free Guide to HR Technology and Employee Experience

Download the Guide

For several years now, there has been an increased focus on meaningful work. Sometimes attributed to the number of millennials in the workplace, people are now looking for more than just a wage in return for their commitment and loyalty.

Collectively, our needs have become known as ‘employee experience’ and a 2019 survey by Deloitte showed that 84% of respondents rated this as an important issue, with 28% saying it was one of the three most urgent issues facing their organisation.

So why has employee experience become so important and how can you prioritise it as we continue to embrace the new normal?

1. The New Differentiator

Market sectors are becoming more competitive and our always-on world makes it harder for brands to stand out from the crowd. The things that move an organisation from good to great are becoming more niche. Research has shown that enterprises with the best employee experiences achieve twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction and 25% higher profits than those with poor employee experience scores.

But it is still a new concept and very few businesses feel ready and able to address it.

If burnout and wellbeing were issues before 2020, then surely our focus on them must be a priority in 2021 and beyond. The coronavirus pandemic has added a whole new layer of stress into people’s lives, put extra pressure on us at home and at work and even removed some of the basic needs we have as humans, such as a sense of belonging.

To continue to evolve, businesses need to be able to cope with increased responsibility in terms of managing employees’ physical and mental health. There is a real need for regular dialogue to bridge remote working situations and a requirement to train everyone within the organisation in how to support themselves and others.

For your business to thrive, your people must thrive, so investing in solutions to help you manage employee experience is critical.

2. What Does Your Brand Stand For?

Just as our increased adoption of technology can help businesses to implement seamless onboarding, staff development and performance management, so the plethora of public platforms mean our brands are always in the public eye.

Your employees will all be using social media regularly and this is where a positive employee experience can really pay off. We know that prospective customers look at content before deciding on a vendor, and that they prefer authentic content rather than brand broadcasts. Your employees will speak out about their experience of work and can become fantastic brand ambassadors if this content is positive.

These ‘internal influencers’ also help when it comes to recruitment, with referral-based hires increasing which reportedly convert 55% more quickly, cost less to recruit, are quicker to onboard and stay longer in the organisation, according to research by Jobvite.

Add to this the proven statistic that organisations with connected employees enjoy 20-25% greater productivity (McKinsey) and investing in improving your employee experience starts to look as though it will pay for itself.

3. Sustainability Means Success

Another focus for forward-thinking businesses is the idea of building a culture of sustainability. Described as a business which has minimal negative impact – or even a positive impact – on their global or local environment, community, society or economy, a sustainable business strives to achieve so much more than simply delivering profit.

Contributing to a healthier future for our planet, as well as our people, is no longer a choice. Putting this goal at the heart of your business will certainly help attract and retain customers but it will also mean the best talent wants to work for you.

There is a strong school of thought that the sustainability route is the only one available for any businesses who want to remain competitive.

According to HSBC’s Made for the Future Report 66% of business say they will be improving their internal practices, recognising that a huge part of becoming sustainable is down to having healthier employees. Investment in systems and solutions that allow greater visibility of everything from employee wellbeing to supply chain credentials is therefore an early necessity.

Achieving a highly positive employee experience – and maintaining or growing it in the future – is clearly a priority for any business with their sights set on continued success. The pandemic has illustrated the need to adapt and adopt when it comes to technology and AI, resulting in a definite uptick in implementation across all market sectors.

Now is the time for strategic planning to include the technology solutions that will enable competitive growth, in-depth analysis of data and a better understanding of how your business and your people are performing.

If you’d like to find out how technology like SAP SuccessFactors can help you achieve your employee experience goals, let’s talk.

In the meantime, check out our latest guide on the crucial role that HR technology plays in today’s new normal.

Find out about the crucial role HR technology plays in today’s new normal with our Free Guide to HR Technology and Employee Experience

Download the Guide

The recent pandemic has changed the face of the way we interact with employees, not least because we are rarely in the same room together. Businesses are ramping up their adoption of technology and AI and we’ve all had a crash course in managing fragile mental states as our levels of underlying stress have been raised simply by trying to keep going on a daily basis.

Even before the pandemic and disruption of 2020, a One Poll/Webonboarding survey revealed that 66% of HR teams were still using a paper-based approach to onboarding. Add to this that 46% of new starters reported a negative onboarding experience, and the whole system looks broken. Negative experiences included ineffective handling of paperwork, outdated processes and overly lengthy onboarding periods.

Step 1: Start As You Mean To Go On

Your onboarding process is the all-important first impression of your business and critical to gaining the loyalty and trust of your new starter. But it doesn’t have to start on that nerve-wracking moment they open the door to the office.

At Jigsaw Cloud, our CEO gets in touch with new recruits via email around a fortnight before they join. When we asked how this made our new colleagues feel, the benefits were obvious: “I felt welcome before day one…. which removed some anxiety before joining a new company. I have been able to give everything to HR before day one and the company provided me with my equipment to work from home with, which was also set up a week before I started work.”

Paying attention to small details at this early stage will make new starters feel that an effort is being made to ensure a smooth beginning to their new role.

Step 2: It’s All About Them

Creating an accessible onboarding system will mean you can offer a personalised and relevant experience to new starters. Take learning and development: it’s far better to find out what makes them tick – what they love, what sort of learner they are – before presenting them with a development plan. Imagine a world where employees can further personal goals as well as work ones: the experience is immediately more positive and inclusive. They are being invited to grow with the business rather than asked to complete a series of one-dimensional learning modules which tick boxes in the organisation’s employee manual.

Our new starters have all their first week’s meetings booked up prior to day one. One recent new team member, Matthieu explains the benefit of this: “Calendar invites were sent to my personal email… which gave me visibility of upcoming meetings. I was also given the opportunity to join a couple of meetings before I started to help me to get familiar with the team and the market.”

Step 3: Build And Nurture The Relationship

Getting off to a positive start with your new employee sets the scene for how things should continue. Forward-thinking organisations will maintain an open channel of communication and feedback – especially during times of remote working. A culture of two-way communications allows issue to be identified at an early stage as well as support to be provided. This is about building human connections and making people feel valued.

“I was involved and participating in activities within a short time period” explains Matthieu. “It helped me to better understand how my colleagues behave and work. It also helped me to be more confident when performing my role.”

Nurturing a relationship takes time, of course, and should continue throughout the initial months of employment. At Jigsaw, we schedule regular coffee mornings and evening drinks online to help teams bond and build the necessary social links that virtual working doesn’t facilitate easily. Employees feel that these are a great way to get to know their colleagues while taking a step back from work.

Our onboarding process is carefully planned for day one, week one and month one to ensure a gradual drip-feed of information, connections and learning. This avoids overwhelm and ensures a positive experience.

Matthieu also reported that the best thing about the onboarding process was having a buddy. He said “It meant we had frequent meetings and I could rely on my buddy for any questions I had.”

For onboarding to contribute to your employee experience in a positive way, it needs to be so much more than completing forms and ticking boxes. Hopefully the ideas and real experiences we have shared here will help you to design a process that will create the very best first impression.

Find out about the crucial role HR technology plays in today’s new normal with our Free Guide to HR Technology and Employee Experience

Download the Guide

Our working lives and our mental health have always been inextricably linked. But for many organisations and employees, the pandemic has brought this relationship into even sharper relief.

The CIPD’s snapshot survey of 1,000 employees found that 22% thought their jobs were in danger, while the majority of those with an existing mental health condition or anxiety said it had worsened.

These findings would raise concerns for employers in any year, but now that most workforces are operating remotely, effective line management is more difficult, and struggling individuals are less easy to identify and support, it’s critical they’re taken seriously.

So, let’s look at some of the most common mental health challenges in workforces, and explore some practical steps you can take to address them.

The Common Mental Health Challenges Created by the Pandemic

Life in lockdown has, of course, affected all of us in different ways. But research from the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) shows some broad – and worrying – trends in the wellbeing of employees working from home.

First, for many, work is spilling outside of work hours. Nearly half (46%) of those surveyed during the initial lockdown reported working at least one more hour than they were contracted to each week, while 15% said they were working at least 10 more.

The IES also found a strong correlation between poor physical health and poor mental health. A real cause for concern when just 24% of respondents said the health and safety of their home working space had been assessed, and around half reported recently experiencing back and neck pain, eye strain, and migraines.

With the proportion of the workforce based at home projected to double post-pandemic, these issues are here to stay – unless businesses take positive action to resolve them.

Practical Steps to Nurturing Mental Health Today

One of the quickest, easiest changes any employer can make is to arrange additional, regular conversations with employees, focused on how they’re feeling, and what additional support they might need.

It’s also important to educate the managers involved in those conversations. When someone opens up about a challenge, the person they’re speaking to should know how to respond, and what processes to put in motion – whether it’s getting them that workspace assessment, evaluating their current workload, or putting them in contact with a therapist.

Taking strong, concrete action is vital if you want your employees to feel valued and keep communicating.

As Stephan Bevan, Head of HR Research Development at the IES, explains, “The quality of leadership and management is magnified during lockdown. If you want to sustain performance and productivity you have to ask the right questions, know what to do with the answers, and be prepared to act on them. It’s about asking people how they really are.”

Once you’ve established strong lines of communication between managers and their reports, look for ways to support communication between teams and peers. Ask, “How can we keep people engaged and connected, even while they’re physically apart?”

One answer might be setting up an online space for employees, where they can chat informally about work and life, and share news, photos, stories and laughter.

Responding to the Pandemic as an SME – Read Our Report

Of course, the rapid shift in working styles we’ve experienced in 2020 hasn’t just affected employee mental health. If they’re to thrive post-pandemic, SMEs must also adopt new technologies quickly and effectively, and redefine their approach to performance management.

We’ve partnered with People Management Insight to create a new report especially for SMEs seeking to solve those challenges, and successfully manage people, processes and performance in a new working environment.

Packed with fresh analysis and practical advice, it features insights from Mental Health First Aid England, the CIPD, the IES, PwC and many more, as well as inspirational tales from companies that have reshaped the way they work in recent months. Download your copy below.

Discover How The Pandemic Has Impacted Performance Management, Workplace Technology, And Mental Health Support – And How To Respond 

Download the Report

A new year means new approaches and advances within the world of HR. From mental health to Automation Technology, I discover the three top trends predicted throughout the year 2020.

More focus on Mental Health in Employees

Stress and burnout at work is a regular topic of conversation, therefore, it is expected that trend will continue to grow in 2020. Yes, physical health is important, but a growing emphasis is being placed on mental health at work.

Employee mental health is a continuous issue at work and it’s one that society and leading organisations are paying increased attention to. One of the best things you can do at your company in 2020, is to invest in a health and wellbeing program for your employees.

“A health and wellbeing program allow companies to be proactive and open about health concerns. However, this needs to be approached sensitively so that it doesn’t turn into a program that shames employees who struggle with their health.”  

– HR Technologist

Automation Technology and Artificial Intelligence Taking Over

Automation is invading the HR space, and very soon everything that can be automated, will be automated. Current HR staff need to adapt to the coming changes or get left behind in the dust.

With strategic automation, HR teams can reduce paper shuffling and focus the attention on more strategic roles of HR like talent forecast, pipeline succession, and more.

Organisations can design, streamline, integrate, and deploy necessary services swiftly at a considerably lower cost. If implemented right, HR automation can reap indispensable benefits.

An Increased Focus on Performance Management

Performance management practices are going through a big change. It is about measuring, managing, and improving the contribution of the individual to the organisation.

Ongoing feedback, coaching and 360-feedback, regular 1-2-1 management reviews have become mainstream through automated systems.

A motivated workforce helps the organization reduce turnover rates and boost the productivity significantly. 

Mean­ing­ful reward sys­tems are immense­ly impor­tant for employ­ee happiness. “83% of employ­ees work­ing in an envi­ron­ment with good reward and recog­ni­tion struc­tures say they are con­tent in their posi­tion”.

– Clear Review

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