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HR role in the turbulent environment of 2020

HR role in the turbulent environment of 2020

Just a few years ago, GDPR was not a topic of discussion, mobile technologies for employees and their acceptance was not raised, HR artificial intelligence and predictive algorithm was more science fiction than reality, millennials expectations and style of work was not such a rich subject, free agent employee (i.e. freelancing) was not a trend, Gamification at work was not a trend, the #metoo (#WoYeShi in China) movement was not a global phenomenon, startups were a novelty. Our world has evolved drastically in a very short time. Simultaneously today there exist for human resources departments both common global challenges and challenges related to specific countries defined by their economic status. The behavior of employees is changing throughout the world; the technologies are evolving, new laws and legislation are consequently changing to regulate the use of technology.

Few trends are being more adopted like “work from home” and “remote work”. There is a dilemma concerning the effectiveness of working from home or remotely in some industries and cultures; a lot of companies think about cost savings. The Human Resource function has to deal with all these changes from a business perspective. The interests of organizations must be protected, as must the health, safety and best interests of employees. HR needs to ensure that corporate policies reflect our modern reality.

In 2020, what will be acceptable from employees? What will be expected from them? What will the company owe to its employees? In many ways, it is the HR department’s responsibility to establish and enforce the guidelines that define company’s culture. What do we consider appropriate in the use of smart phones and social media in the workplace? Do we expect employees to use their personal smartphones for business purposes which goes toward the adoption of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach? Are our hiring practices fair and unprejudiced? How does the HR department guarantee transparency and objective selection of candidates?

What does our policy do on cannabis use look like? Have we reviewed all GDPR regulation and made the employees sign on the consents? Are we thinking and planning for raising our employees awareness to conform to the new EU ePrivacy regulation for the customers (for non-EU countries, laws are also issued covering these topics)? These are some of the crucial questions that HR departments need to ask and anticipate in 2020.

It is not enough to deal with difficult situations as they arise. It is important that policies and guidelines are already in place to ensure consistency and objectivity. In many cases, outdated corporate policies need to be updated and modernized to reflect the current reality and need. It is no longer enough to say «that’s how things have always been done» and to insist that we are right. 

Employees need to change their behavior through raising awareness; companies need to communicate and adapt to the new employment styles. HR Department will have the responsibility to reevaluate their company’s policies; both related to the employees and to the company to better serve everyone’s interest and effectively adapt to the current technological advancements. In addition, they will need to conform to the changing regulations of their country or regions. The HR department will have to decide with the visible rise in the rate of employees turnover, if the company will continue investing in employees training or will it be better to replace with an employees who already have the needed knowledge?

 Ethics is yet an important topic. How to guarantee that employees understand ethics and make sure that the company has its own code of ethics? How to make sure that employees follow ethical behavior in protecting company’s intellectual properties, dealing with their colleagues, being dedicated to their work and utilizing their working hours in the best possible way. In some countries, with poor economic situation; employees are intentionally or unintentionally hurting their companies by working in multiple freelancing projects parallel to their full time job without disclosing the information to the HR department or to their manager. A full list of challenges related to ethics, behavior and honesty are difficult to measure and control. Raising employees’ awareness related to ethics in using the company’s resources and on what to disclose to third parties or to employees who left the company is a must. 

A lot of rising challenges are facing companies, lots of work is expected from HR departments and the digitalization of the different processes are becoming today inevitable and a must. HR department will need to facilitate the transition and transformation of companies to become more agile, more digital to handle in a faster pace the adoption to new technologies, adaptation to the change of employee behavior, and conformity to the newly introduced laws.

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