Jeffrey Clarke of Ceridian on why future-proofing your workforce is the key to survival
The workplace has changed at a previously unseen pace in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. From increased demand for flexibility to the need for virtual solutions, 2020 will stand out as a key catalyst for new thinking and innovation.
But, according to Jeffrey Clarke, Principal, Value Advisory at Ceridian, a global leader in human capital management (HCM), it’s not just ways of working that have shifted dramatically – the priorities and demands of employees have evolved too.
“At the beginning of the pandemic, as organisations struggled with forced lockdowns and social distancing, we saw unease and uncertainty around job security,” said Clarke. “But now, we’re seeing more employees starting to question the intrinsic value of their jobs.”
Clarke points to Ceridian’s Pulse of Talent report as evidence of the trend. According to its findings, 67% of the Australian workforce is looking for new job opportunities or would consider leaving their current position if approached by another company.
The report shows it’s a particularly strong trend among young workers, with employees under the age of 30 most likely to seek new jobs. Clarke sees it not as solely the result of the pandemic, but as an acceleration of pre-existing trends – so as business and HR leaders look to the future in a post-lockdown world, hiring and retention of talent will be a key priority for businesses hoping to drive recovery over the next 12 months.
“This past year has seen fundamental changes to the world of work, requiring organisations to adopt a more intelligent and fluid way of working,” said Clarke. “Employee engagement is tied to the resilience and sustainable growth of business – it’s a mandatory workplace requirement.”
Throwing out the recruitment rulebook
Recruitment was one of the first HR functions to feel the full force of COVID-19 as hiring freezes kicked in and state and international borders slammed shut. Ceridian’s research found 38% of businesses reduced staff count, while 27% temporarily stood down staff.
But for businesses hiring in this new, more restricted environment, utilising technology became paramount, whether it was interviewing via video platforms or developing a sophisticated virtual onboarding program – which in turn highlighted other concerns.
“Our research has highlighted the importance of HCM technology and that many of the HR leaders surveyed do not believe their current solution is up to scratch,” said Clarke. “In a world where virtual onboarding has become the norm, it’s crucial to have the right solutions in place.”
With four out of 10 respondents planning to invest in HCM platforms in the future, it’s high on the priority list for those looking to future-proof their business.
Supporting mental health in a virtual world
Despite increased stress levels and workloads, 40% of businesses have witnessed an increase in the quality of work produced – but Clarke noted this isn’t necessarily a good thing.
“Moving to remote working reduced, if not removed, the barriers between home and work for many of us. Productivity and quality of work has definitely increased, but so has the tendency for employees in these situations to work longer hours and be ‘tied to their desks’ for longer periods. In the long-term this can lead to increased stress and burnout, with many employees leaving their job altogether,” explained Clarke.
With employees working harder than ever and some also feeling the financial squeeze of COVID-19, how can HR leaders ensure their wellbeing is supported and they feel engaged?
“Firstly, businesses need to really understand the mental health and wellbeing of their employees in order to implement successful strategy.” Clarke added, “Using modern HR tools such as rapid pulse surveys makes it easier to engage employees, giving people leaders the opportunity to pinpoint weak areas and craft solutions that address those gaps.”
Another option is the potential to leverage training and learning opportunities as an effective engagement strategy, with Ceridian’s report indicating that 42% of respondents are using such an approach.
“Education is key,” said Clarke. “Effective learning management software can give employees access to support materials, training opportunities and mental health resources in one place.”
From perk to necessity: Remote work is here to stay
The rigidity of 9-5 working appears to be a thing of the past for many businesses, with remote working options becoming increasingly commonplace.
“The attitude around remote working has changed,” said Clarke. “Hybrid working is going to be the big buzzword for 2021, with a focus on how HR leaders manage staffing schedules to maximise collaboration and efficiency.”
As the situation continues to evolve, Ceridian believes that HCM technology will play an integral role in how HR leaders streamline processes.
Clarke concludes: “Keeping the workforce engaged from a distance with renewed attention to mental health and wellbeing, is going to be a major focus as businesses emerge from the pandemic and look to the future.”
To explore the findings in more detail, access the Ceridian Pulse of Talent report here.