Four ways to get your HR house in order for the New Year

Posted on  Dec 16, 21 by Dee Coakley
Four ways to get your HR house in order for the New Year

As HR and People teams sit down for their end of year meetings and planning sessions, they’ll be reflecting on another confusing and disrupted year. Lockdowns have given way to partial normality, only for further pandemic storm clouds to return in the past few months. Two years on, we are entering 2022 with uncertainty still very much the watchword.

For many, the urgency of responding to the pandemic led to a range of quick HR fixes that have turned into de facto norms. Working from home strategies were introduced quickly and blanket policies rolled out, replicated across geographies with little room for nuance. Many employees have been left unsure exactly what’s expected of them as their place of work has changed (and then changed again).

HR teams are facing a huge backlog of issues resulting from the pandemic, and it’s understandable that some decisions have been postponed in the face of this never-ending crisis. But businesses can no longer allow uncertainty to lead to a lack of strategic action. As they plan for the New Year, HR teams have an opportunity to get their house in order, ensuring that any kinks in the system are ironed out once and for all. So what needs to happen first?

  1. Act on compliance red flags

Did you hire freelance help during the last 12 months? Perhaps what was meant to be a short-term contract has turned into a longer relationship? Maybe one of your employees has taken the opportunity to work from abroad during the enforced period of home working, but their contract hasn’t been changed to reflect local legislation? This is a great time of year to sort compliance issues - or to get a plan in place so that January can begin with a clean slate.

Addressing the employment status of independent contractors needs to top the list of HR priorities in 2022. Companies the world over are hitting the headlines and being served with hefty fines for deliberate or accidental misclassification of full-time employees. And it’s not just a cash hit you’ll take if you get it wrong. The reputational damage can be significant too (see Uber for a lesson in what not to do), not to mention disquiet among employees if they believe that there is unfairness in the way they’re being treated. We’ve written plenty about this issue, and can help if you want to discuss any challenges you have with cross-border workers.

Addressing the employment status of independent contractors needs to top the list of HR priorities in 2022.
  1. Drive employee engagement with flexible working strategies

One of the most hotly debated business issues in the last 24 months has been flexible working. The opportunity to work remotely may have started as a Covid necessity, however, companies have quickly realised that many job roles can be effectively done from home and being in a physical office isn’t always necessary. And it’s not just location flexibility which looks likely to stick around after the pandemic restrictions end. People are finding that they can now be flexible about the hours that they work, with many 9-5 roles fast morphing into a more fluid approach to how and when work is carried out.

Flexible working practices are shown to bring a range of benefits, including employee productivity and wellbeing gains, not to mention giving employers the chance to cut back on expensive office space. And as flexible working becomes offered by more and more companies, it’s starting to be demanded by employees as a core benefit. Simply put – if HR teams can’t offer flexibility in the year ahead, they’re at a clear competitive disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retention.

However, even progressive-minded companies can fall down when they don’t have clear policies laying out what is expected (and what is provided) for staff working flexibly. How do they tackle overtime and ensure that staff establish a good work/life balance? What do they provide in terms of equipment for a home office? And how can they ensure that staff away from the office are treated in the same way as their in-house counterparts? Comprehensive policies are required to address these questions and ensure all staff feel supported.

Flexible working is becoming a core benefit to employees. HR teams need to offer it, or will be at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring and retention.
  1. Reflect changes to the working world in long-term hiring plans

Most, if not all, HR departments will be reviewing their hiring plans for the year ahead – and they’re facing some tough decisions. Now that flexible working is commonplace, there’s an opportunity for them to access a wider talent pool by recruiting for predominantly remote roles, or remote-only roles. In theory, organsiations have access to an enormous talent pool when it comes to hiring - which isn’t bound by geographic constraints. Of course, if this is on the agenda, understanding the legal and cultural ramifications of making global hires is paramount to success.

Perhaps this is why we’re seeing some forward-looking businesses hiring ‘Heads of Remote Working’, senior execs who are taken on specifically to look after remote strategies, driving effective collaboration and comms across distributed teams. They’re also turning to expert consultants for ongoing advice about how to get the details right when hiring across territories.

With an opportunity to access a wider talent pool by recruiting for predominantly remote roles, HR professionals should understand remote work’s legal and cultural ramifications.

4. Make collaboration technology work for all

How people work together is crucial to success – irrespective of whether they’re in the office or geographically dispersed. Effective collaboration is top of the agenda for HR departments everywhere and, after two years of using piecemeal technology solutions, now is the chance for a broader, holistic review of the market.

Many organisations are making a permanent shift to fully remote or a 'hybrid' way of working where some employees are in the office and some remote. As such, consistency in communication will be key. All face challenges in choosing the right collaboration stack (with plenty of options on the market) - and most want to consolidate tech for a more seamless experience.

But of course, it’s not only remote work environments which need to change to meet the needs of a hybrid future. Outdated conference rooms with people huddled around a speakerphone won’t support future workforce needs, and savvy teams will have to look at redesigning physical spaces to better accommodate hybrid work environments.

With many organisations making a permanent shift to fully remote or 'hybrid' ways (some employees are in the office and some remote), communication consistency will be key.

Strike international employment compliance off your list of tasks for 2021

There’s plenty to do before HR teams head off for a well-deserved Christmas break, and the increasing uncertainty around Covid is a most unwelcome distraction when it comes to ensuring day-to-day business continuity. But it’s important to maintain a strategic view of the year ahead and, if there’s one key priority that no business can afford to lose sight of in 2022, it’s closing those complex and potentially costly compliance gaps. Boundless can help you employ people compliantly in a number of countries around the world, so you don’t have to worry about any local employment challenges. Get in touch now

4 ways to get your house in order for 2022: Act on compliance red flags Introduce flexible working Adjust long term hiring plans according to the changing landscape Make collaboration technology work for all
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Written by Dee Coakley

Before founding international employment platform, Boundless, Dee Coakley was a three-time COO, having spent 10 years with B2B SaaS businesses (Masabi, Bizimply & Axonista). In her COO roles, she experienced first-hand the operational challenges of setting up employees in new countries, and so set about building a solution. Boundless handles cross-border HR compliance and payroll for small and mid-size businesses, removing the barriers to growing teams internationally.

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