People practices are the core of a business strategy in the present millennium. Gone are the days when companies were run with simple employer-employee configurations. Today, work culture has evolved, thanks to the initiatives within the organizations to ensure the best talent pool is not left unutilized. People practices and priorities keep changing as the generation entering the work pool changes. It also depends on the current trends in the market, changing technologies and socio-economic conditions. Today, people practices need to be practical and not just on paper. This takes introspection, interaction, discussions, analysis, mutual engagement and involvement from a top-down approach.
There are multiple stages of people practices, beginning with hiring and reaching organizational structure, DEI policies and practices, etc. These stages of people practices are:
1. Basic HR practices: Onboarding, contracts, leave and holiday policies, performance reviews, exit interviews, etc.
2. Second-stage practices: Employee wellness programs, management feedback via surveys, employee training sessions, formulating employee-friendly work policies and more. This involves more administration or management-staff interaction.
3. Final stage practices: Planning organizational and operations structure and policies, focusing on mentoring and leadership programs, DEI policies and business continuity plan.
Based on the above-listed structure, here are the people practices and priorities organizations need to concentrate on for 2023:
a. Invest in technology for overall operational and HR functions:
AI, algorithms, HR tech tools and analytics are being used exhaustively for the 360-degree execution of HR practices. Developing either in-house HR and Ops tools or utilizing the existing tools in the market is necessary. Automating the entire process will not only be cost-effective but also time-saving. This removes unnecessary complications and biases that many times employees complain about when having to depend on manual systems. HR compliance can be applied and tracked when misused. The data from these systems will prove to be beneficial during annual reviews of employees, promotions, exits and even the performance of the company. Technology helps the organization function as a single unit and not in silos.
b. Focusing on employee wellness – mental, physical and financial health with a priority on work-life balance:
If the pandemic has placed a focus on one major aspect of employment is – life is too short to be spent in front of workstations. Employees want due respect for their efforts and space for them to enjoy their personal life. This has created a huge demand for work-life balance, where they do not want to be on standby every time there is an incoming email or message. Employees want respite on their terms and not that of the company. This means a weekend getaway with colleagues isn’t their idea of relaxation. The lack of this understanding is what has resulted in ‘quiet quitting’ among other factors. The management must analyze the trend and provide flexibility that begins with hybrid working and leave policies specifically designed to combat mental and physical health issues. More than branded merchandise employees are demanding market-driven compensation, insurance benefits and other support programs. Formulating the right policies under this will certainly help in employee retention and the hiring process.
c. Focusing on diversity, equity and inclusivity (DEI):
DEI is gaining momentum as people practices and policies are evolving. There is a big push across verticals for adopting the right DEI policies i.e the policies that do not unintentionally create an environment of bias. Implementing DEI is a geo-socio-political movement across the world and efforts are being made to utilize them successfully. These policies include education of the workforce on diversity, implementation of equitable hiring, restructuring of compensation and benefits, changes to organizational policies to incentivize inclusiveness, active adjustments of workplace culture and more. This helps create an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their unique skills and experiences to the table without fear of judgment or discrimination.
d. Bridge the increasing skill and communication gap between generations:
Technology has been instrumental in bringing evolution not just in day-to-day lives but also the people. This means there are significant generation, skill and communication gaps in the workforce. A 2022 Gartner survey of nearly 3,500 employees found that when organizations help employees build connections intentionally, their employees are five times as likely to be on a high-performing team and 12 times as likely to feel connected to their colleagues. The responsibility of bridging this gap is on the shoulders of the HR team. Only when employees of various levels and generations work together bringing the best of their skills will an organization truly excel.
The post-pandemic world has proved to be a period where company culture and people practices are in high demand and importance, for organizations and employees. The right way to navigate the expectations of the staff and keep up with the market is to anticipate and analyze what trends are compatible with their line of business. Every business year some practices remain constant and some keep changing. Policymakers within the organization need to understand that people practices are just not company culture, they are also the process and day-to-day operations of the organization. The organic path to achieving employee satisfaction, happiness and successful operations is through the right people practices.