Ask 20,000 HR professionals how change makes them feel, you’ll probably get some interesting answers.
What was clear at the 2023 SHRM annual conference is that change is everywhere — and HR is right at the heart of it.
At the Paylocity booth, visitors could watch change happen in real time as renowned Las Vegas artist Brad Wilkinson transformed blank canvases into masterpieces to highlight #TheArtofModernHR. It was a fun way to showcase the creative side of HR and the impact each of us has as individuals. Our booth became a living gallery of problem-solvers!
Throughout the conference, I had a chance to talk with peers and experts about the changes they’re seeing in the world of work. Let’s look at how some of those changes will affect HR going forward — whether you’re a department of one or one hundred.
The Skills-Based Evolution
One change we’ve seen coming is the shift to a skills-based mindset. Really, the skills-based model addresses other changes in the workforce, like the need for today’s workers to apply adjacent skills and adapt quickly to new roles.
Former president Bill Clinton addressed the skills gap in his keynote: “We shouldn’t require a college degree if the job doesn’t require it … We need to think about constantly training because the nature of work is constantly changing.”
The transition to a skills-based organization won’t happen overnight. It means looking at some of our core HR functions differently, like how we hire, develop, and retain talent.
- How can we describe jobs in terms of skills rather than qualifications?
- What does a skills-based job interview look like?
- What skills will our employees need in the future to reach business goals?
- How do we provide skills training that’s valuable to both our employees and our organization?
While we’re adjusting our own perspectives, we’re also in a position to help both leadership and employees think about work in a whole new way. Although challenging, this change opens tremendous opportunities to develop a highly skilled workforce for tomorrow.
Being Mindful of Mental Health
Mental health was on everyone’s minds at the conference. There’s no question the pandemic has completely changed how we talk about mental health in the workplace. There’s also no doubt this is a much needed change.
A survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and CNN found 90% of adults believe there is a mental crisis in the U.S. Almost half the adults surveyed reported having a severe mental health crisis in their family.
In addition to dealing with multiple social stressors, our deepening dependence on technology makes achieving work-life balance increasingly difficult.
Of those adults who reported their mental health as only fair or poor, six out of ten said they have not been able to get the care they need. The most common reasons cited were being too busy, unable to take the time off from work, and concerns about cost.
What does this mean for employers?
In the near-term, HR will have to continue to advocate for expanded benefits, monitor employee sentiment and well-being, and guide employees to the services they need. Employee resource groups can help address the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, not just at work but in the community. Provide training for managers so they can help employees find the right balance between life and work.
And a reminder — your own mental health comes first. HR is an emotionally charged career, and we absolutely must grant ourselves the grace to heal and renew.