2020 has just begun. Unemployment is low, and salaries are up, so it's a great year to be an employee! But the conditions that make it great for employees can also make it difficult for employee relations. When there are plentiful jobs, employees will jump ship if things aren't great at your company.
If you're setting your goals for the new year (and beyond), it can be helpful to see what experts expect to be emerging trends and where your competitors are looking.
Use this helpful 2020 Employee Relations Goals Checklist to get started on your goals for this year.
Remember, the word competitor in HR doesn't mean just businesses that sell similar products, but any company at which your employees could also work.
Here are four HR trends to look out for in 2020.
HR Consultant Sharlyn Lauby, also known as the HR Bartender, predicts that employee retention will be a strong theme in 2020. She advises that employers use both stay interviews (like an exit interview, but done with current employees) to predict termination risks and to solve problems before they drive a good employee out. That's not enough, though. She writes:
"Employee retention involves employee development, management training, competitive pay and benefits, and regular rewards and recognition. It won't happen overnight. And finally, it's a commitment that organizations need to focus on always."
If that seems like a lot, it is! But it's what will be necessary for a successful 2020.
The HR Federation says that "total wellbeing" will also be a focus in 2020. HR, especially employee relations, needs to address and support the "professional, physical, emotional, social, and financial aspects of each employee."
If this seems like an impossible achievement for any employee relations department, remember it's not something you have to do alone. HR tech helps out in this way — it can help your employees work through their insurance questions and contact Employee Assistance Programs to manage out their issues. It can also help leaders ensure that their employees have a fair, consistent experience.
Employee Assistance Programs
The HR Federation isn't the only HR expert looking toward EAPs for 2020. Vadim Liberman, the editor at ERE Media, which focuses on the needs of HR people across the profession, asked about employee EAP use on Twitter. He asked:
"Do enough employees really access — and get significant value out of — EAPs? Or do companies continue offering this "benefit" to check a box? Genuinely curious about everyone's thoughts on this!"
This is one of my goals for employee relations in 2020. It is an underutilized benefit, but if employees did use it, we'd have better luck with total well-being and less on our plates. Employees don't know about the help they can receive through their company's EAP, and sometimes fear that if they call about a legal problem, an HR manager will find out exactly what's going on.
HR consultant Gemma Toth says she solves the confidentiality issue by showing her employees a copy of the EAP report she receives. "All they'll see is the number of utilization and resource requested, no name given." What a great idea for helping employees use this valuable tool, which then takes work away from employee relations.
This is a focus for almost everyone. Having the right tools is critical for any business. But as HR Analyst Josh Bersin says, "The problem is not one of simply ‘buying a new system’ or ‘building a new onboarding program.’ It takes a continuous effort, and must be addressed with local solutions, not just corporate programs."
Even in today's digital world, tech doesn't solve everything. It solves very little without the right support. Smart HR is using tech to help with humans, rather than forcing humans to conform to the restrictions of the computers and bots.
Smart systems encourage good employee relations people to save administrative time so they can focus strategically on helping employees be the best they can be. Hopefully, it will make all HR people a little less stressed as well.
Looking forward to a great 2020.
Suzanne Lucas is a freelance writer who spent 10 years in corporate human resources, where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She's sure not evil. She's super nice! Learn more about her at www.evilhrlady.org and email her directly for decidedly unevil advice.