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What to watch in 2019: The year ahead in HR

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As we are wrapping up 2018, it is always good to keep an eye on what’s up ahead. I strongly believe that HR leaders need to remain at the forefront of people strategies in order to support our businesses to retain a competitive edge.

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 The past year focused on performance, functionality and of course, compliance – who can forget those fun months focusing our efforts on GDPR or the latest harassment and discrimination scandals.

2019 promises to be another cracker of a year – so what should we watch out for?

The big B word – Unfortunately no, I am not referring to yet another change to benefits strategy. 2019 will define how Great Britain handles Brexit and how we will need to handle our immigration, tax, social governance and international policies. To date, no one really knows what impact the UK’s exit from the EU will have on our businesses and hopefully most of us will have prepared our worst/best case scenarios.

Then again, we will need to expect significant ambiguity in the next 12 months and beyond. Our ability to adapt to whatever is coming will more likely shape or shake who we are as companies. In this state of flux, employees will be looking to their leadership teams as well as HR to inform and provide guidance. Brexit will impact organisations beyond immigration, travel, tax and commerce – it will have a core bearing on brand, technology, data, and the general way in which we do things. Brexit has the potential to bring a wave of change that no one, not even the best prepared, will be able to fully predict.

Communication – Do we know how well we deliver against the demands of the workplace? Does everyone in the organisation understand how they individually contribute to the whole. Organisations have become incredibly complex in nature and clear, focused communication plans, strategies and tools will allow everyone to move at the same pace and in coordinated fashion.

If you want your rowing boat to go faster you will not only tell those at the front to row faster, you will ensure that each person on your boat understands the message and row at the same pace and cadence to avoid chaos and wastage. The consequences of which could be abysmal for an organisation in flux.

Efficiency – again, not only Brexit but overall business pressure (we do not yet know what the competitive landscape will be) will require our human workforce to be even more efficient and resilient in the face of the unknown. How to achieve this? We can first turn to outsourcing solutions – with the focus being more on efficiencies rather than simple low cost. We can also look at technology – how it can support our people and facilitate better decision making.

Resilience – we will need staff to become even more resilient and engaged in the workplace so that they can be trusted to deliver as is, if not more, in a changing context. Employees are increasingly required to be constantly connected through their laptops, smart phones, tablets and so on. Some are even asked to wear trackers. One of HR’s core tasks, and one that is close to my own heart, is to ensure employees’ mental wellbeing.

Making sure appropriate rest, work methods and TLC is applied when asking so much of our people. Your highest performers will often give you their all whilst knowing that should something go wrong, you, as the employer, will take care of them. Once resentment sets in, it is incredibly hard to get a team’s trust and creativity back. Resilience will be something we ask more of from our people. In return, our job as HR will be to stand up for the ‘Human’ side of HR and ensure that we do not forget that our humanity is increasingly precious and needs nurturing at the core of organisations.

Julie Provino is an international HR leader, founder of VeryHR and the author of How to Get What You Want in 7 Weeks. To find out more go to: www.VeryHR.co.uk

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