Businesses of every size have had to restructure their approaches to HR and management over the past few years. A global health crisis and the dawn of digital transformation have ensured that no business is able to continue life as per usual. Every facet of operations has changed, and this includes changes in the human resources (HR) department.
But despite the fact that all businesses have been subject to these fluctuations, small businesses are perhaps more vulnerable than larger, more established ones.
Businesses take years, even decades to become completely stable. This puts small businesses at somewhat of a disadvantage when it comes to major unprecedented change. The infrastructure tends to be less reliable, and the access to resources—financial and otherwise—much more scarce.
However, small businesses have been tenaciously pushing forward with their independent approach to management. Remote working and the “new normal” have prompted small businesses to adopt new tactics to recruit and retain employees.
But what does the immediate future look like for the HR departments of small businesses in 2022? And how can they prepare for new shifts and developments? Here are the key trends small businesses should be aware of heading into 2022.
1. Prioritization of employee well-being
There’s no getting around it. Workers are feeling burnt out, fatigued, and more anxious than in pre-pandemic times. Employee wellbeing used to be a hyped-up fad, but in today’s world, it should be considered a significant part of any HR department.
Many small businesses do not have fully functional HR departments. And if they do, such departments are limited in their capacity for major support. In fact, as much as 53% of employers only have one person managing HR within their business.
However, that doesn’t mean small business HR departments are unable to support employees. Being more flexible about remote working options, strategically preventing overworking, and encouraging healthier work activities can all protect employee wellbeing.
2. Use of e-learning to integrate new skills
E-learning is essentially electronic learning, mainly accessed via the internet. The pace at which the world is evolving on a purely technological level has ensured that new skills are constantly arriving in hot demand. And businesses are striving to keep up with them.
If small businesses want to stay relevant within the global market and keep employees feeling engaged and motivated, implementing e-learning or upskilling program can help to fill that gap. HR professionals can use e-learning platforms to develop learning and development programs for their employees and share these programs with their organization’s workers in a convenient way.
Outsourcing isn’t always a feasible option for small businesses, which means they have to educate from within. Fortunately, there are plenty of free and affordable e-learning platforms that can teach small business employees skills that fully equip them for tackling the 2020s.
3. Stricter policies around social media
Many small businesses have played ball and adapted to the digital transformation of the past decade. Social media platforms are considered to be a huge part of modern marketing strategies. But are they getting maintained as well as they should?
Misinformation and hate speech has become increasingly rampant on the internet, and small businesses need all the credibility they can get to establish a solid reputation.
What this means is that small business HR reps might want to place tighter restrictions on their social media manager (or whoever is responsible for posting and replying). That way, avoidable mistakes get prevented and a business isn’t damaged by its social reputation.
4. Systemically engage and retain employees
The Work Institute’s Retention Report shows that for the tenth consecutive year, a lack of career development is the number one reason listed why employees quit their jobs. This indicates a massive problem regarding employee retention and engagement.
Because of their scale and output levels, small businesses need to prioritize employee retention to survive. Larger companies can cope with losing a few employees a year due to a lack of growth and engagement. But smaller businesses cannot.
If small businesses in 2022 want to succeed, placing a renewed sense of importance on employee satisfaction and growth opportunities is vitally important. A system of growth and consistent “leveling up” within a business can motivate employees to stick around and remain loyal to their work.
5. Use of HR technology
Task automation is one of the most powerful strategies a small business can take on board. With a limited number of staff and access to resources, small businesses need to take advantage of every streamlining system.
AI and automated tasks are important developments in HR technology. Tools that use this technology can drastically reduce workloads. Plus, they enable employees to tackle tasks with greater efficiency and enjoyment.
Administrative tasks, recruitment, onboarding, training, and employee performance tracking are all responsibilities that are made easier via the use of HR technology incorporating artificial intelligence and automation. There are a variety of HR software and automation tools available on the internet for this purpose.
6. Embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace
Equity, diversity, and inclusion are not trends. They are fundamental aspects of human dignity that have waited centuries for our attention.
Over the past few years, businesses of all sizes have slowly begun to dismantle the misogyny, bias, and bigotry of all forms that previously plagued organizations. They’re now making way for a more inclusive and tolerant work environment.
HR is responsible for making sure employees have everything they need to feel comfortable, safe, and optimized for productivity. That means raising awareness around topics of injustice. It also means creating a space where people from every background can feel respected.
7. Prepare for hybrid offices
A hybrid office is an office where some people work remotely, and others work from the office. Already, a lot of flexibility has been required to accommodate for lockdowns and social distancing. But the global shift into remote working culture looks like it’s here to stay.
Even though many people are returning to their original workstations, millions have found preference in the remote alternative. In the future, it is likely that small businesses will have to make remote working options more readily available if they are to attract talent.
Because work comfortability is an employee wellbeing concern, it is HR that will need to prepare for requests of this kind. Very small businesses may be reluctant at first. But eventually, it will become highly beneficial to be flexible on individual employees’ working terms.
8. Review and stabilization of benefits plans
Since 2020, most businesses are being called to review their employee benefits plans.
Generally, small businesses tend to accrue less revenue than major corporations. But that doesn’t mean that tweaks that better protect employees’ finances in the face of a crisis can’t occur.
Because small business HR reps often aren’t able to provide employees with highly competitive benefits plans, they must be highly selective in what they choose to cover. That means taking a look at what employees want most from benefits plans and meeting those needs where possible.
Some of the most in-demand employee benefits of 2020 and 2021 include flexible work arrangements and health insurance benefits. Professional development opportunities and mental health benefits are also top of the list.
Naturally, it is evident that employees are seeking better protection for the health and wellbeing of both themselves and their families.
Going forward, small business HR departments (whether it is one person or several) who prioritize both personal and professional growth are likely to see productive, engaged employees all year round.