New research shows that almost half of all HR staff surveyed stated that boosting employee engagement was going to be their number one priority this year.

According to a new survey by Lattice, a people management platform, 48 per cent of HR employees said that improving employee engagement, especially due to remote working, was going to be their main priority this year.

In order to do this, almost three-quarters of the HR employees stated that culture initiatives were going to be utilised, 65 per cent stated that they were planning to use engagement surveys and remote team engagement programs. Wellness and work-life balance initiatives were also a popular solution, with 63 per cent of HR professionals introducing this to boost employee engagement.

Another significant trend for HR employees was focusing more on diversity and inclusion. After the death of George Floyd in the United States and the Black Lives Matter movement, well over half (60 per cent) of organisations stated they are building on their diversity, equity and inclusion programs (DE&I).

Almost one-fifth (16 per cent) are intending to start their DE&I programs from scratch with almost half (44 per cent) of the HR sector stating improving diversity and inclusion within their company was their main priority. To achieve this, almost half (47 per cent) were planning to widen recruitment pools whilst 35 per cent of HR stated that they were going to run unconscious bias training.

This year was also a particularly challenging one for HR staff. The most common challenge was emotional exhaustion which affected six out of every 10 HR employees . Over half of all HR respondents (54 per cent) stated that their toughest challenge was the overwhelming number of projects and responsibilities they were expected to carry out. Over half (51 per cent) also struggled with employee morale and retention. Just under three in 10 (29 per cent) felt that there was an issue of low perceived value of HR’s worth within organisations.

This year has also been difficult for employees as remote working has become a more prevalent feature within the changing landscape of work in 2020. 64 per cent of HR listed employee morale as a remote work challenge and almost half (48 per cent) struggled with communications.

In order to combat this, however, almost three-quarters of HR staff (73 per cent) have implemented new communications and meeting procedures.

Speaking on the HR sector’s issue of emotional exhaustion, Farrah Jessani Mitra, founder of Green Reed, a leadership development and executive coaching company, said:

When in HR, you’re often managing tricky people situations relevant to specific individuals or business situations. During COVID, you’re also responsible for managing the new challenges you and your employees are facing — such as kids at home, sick family members, health concerns, financial issues, etc. This is very taxing.

A CEO recognising the load and hardship, and valuing and recognizing the efforts being made by HR, can go a long way. It’s also important to take collective ownership, with all leaders leading their own people. HR’s job is to help be stewards and empower, but there should be collective ownership from leadership and the full team.

 

*This survey was conducted by Lattice between the 14th July and 4th August 2020, surveying 1000 HR professionals across the world in 39 countries.