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Navigating the Changing workforce and maintaining employee happiness

The workforce is constantly changing, with Gen Z entering new jobs, millennials moving up to managing positions and Gen X heading for retirement. As a result, the areas of focus for HR and employee management are continuously shifting, and HR teams and business leaders re-shape their working environments to suit the needs of various employee expectations. 

In today’s working landscape, there is an increased emphasis on mental health and a good work-life balance. Employees are increasingly standing their ground on the benefits, rewards and recognition they receive from their employers, and as a result we expect that this year, organisations will focus more on employee reward and recognition, management development, and the rise of digital transformation, and its impact. We’re seeing significant changes in the ways we work, particularly with remote and hybrid offices being the new normal, meaning organisations are having to move increasingly away from a one-size-fits-all model when it comes to employee satisfaction, happiness and employee rewards. Ultimately, leaders are needing to understand how to better manage an entire workforce while turning their attention to individual needs as well.

It’s no surprise that happy employees increase an organisation’s productivity. By fostering a healthy working environment, businesses can improve loyalty and retention, which directly translates to higher turnover rates, as leaders can focus on growth and development rather than replacing employees.

How technology will affect HR

Digital transformation has changed the way we work and interact, leading to a shift in mindset and behaviours. As such, HR teams have had to adapt to support these changes, particularly when it comes to AI and automation as well as robotics and people data and trend analytics.

On the one hand, technological advancements are able to streamline workflows and help employees automate tasks that would typically be more time consuming. This allows them to focus more on individuals and developing interpersonal skills. Digital transformation facilitated remote working over the pandemic, and still supports hybrid workforces today. 

On the other hand, new technologies come with new challenges. It’s important that HR teams understand how to manage their organistation’s digital transformation properly, in order to avoid job losses or difficult challenges. 

People will need to remain at the forefront of tech; it’s vital that HR leaders focus on the human element and how to manage and engage with their teams more personally, rather than relying on technology entirely. In addition, they must fully understand how technology will affect their employees, and how to navigate the changing landscape. 

The next generation of managers

Managers are a key part of an organisation. Their work across teams is important in keeping operations running smoothly and teams happy in their role. They typically have to balance heavy workloads with people management, keeping teams engaged and motivated all year round which can lead to burnout if not supervised correctly by business leaders. 

While it’s crucial that businesses support all their employees, they should also focus on assisting the new generation of managers as they venture into their new roles. This includes rewarding and recognising them for their hard work, and presenting them with opportunities for development. 

We’ve already seen a bigger focus on wellbeing at work, and this next year we can expect businesses to really hone in on their employee’s mental and physical health. Leaders are recognising the importance of wellbeing in the way it impacts work and business operations. In tandem, businesses must ensure their managers’ well being is also looked after, in order to avoid burnout and keep people motivated and productive. 

Refreshing your rewards and recognition strategy 

With this shift in the workforce, business leaders must assess their employees’ expectations and adjust their corporate reward and recognition strategies accordingly. The first step to do so is understanding employee satisfaction within their roles by, for instance, conducting an anonymous survey to understand what is working and what can be improved. In addition, businesses should analyse the state of the hiring and employment landscape, in order to remain competitive and provide the best working environment and possible work perks for their employees. 

The most recent labour market outlook from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) shows that this year, UK employees can expect less generous salary settlements. This is likely to cause challenges amongst a workforce, so it’s vital that employers innovate their recognition programmes accordingly, offer meaningful rewards to ensure they show appreciation and value their employees’ contributions. 

Granted, with low budgets, businesses are having to make adjustments, and often big bonuses may be the first to go. In order to keep employees satisfied and productive, business leaders need to show their appreciation in other more engaging forms. One way they can do so is by implementing corporate rewards programmes that recognise employees for hard work, and other milestones, all throughout the year. This can come in the form of a multi-choice gift card, or a bookable new experience, so employees can pick what to spend it on at a time that’s convenient to them. 

What’s more, people are feeling  the impact of the current cost-of-living crisis, and if employees are missing out on financial perks, organisations can somewhat alleviate stress with a corporate incentive like a gift card, that can be spent on items they may need in their day-to-day lives. 

It’s important to understand your employees’ needs in order to prioritise their wellbeing and foster a healthy working environment. With the changing workforce, organisations will need to assess their rewards and recognition strategies according to upcoming trends, so they can keep their employees happy and improve their overall employee retention. By constantly showing appreciation for hard work and regularly recognising milestones, organisations can help motivate their employees while making them feel valued. In turn, this will ensure business operations continue running smoothly and improve turnover, as people will be more willing to excel for the company they work for. 

By Danni Rush, COO at Virgin Incentives, Virgin Experience Days and Virgin Experience Gifts

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