An anchor in the storm
28 December 2023
Becky Cantieri Chief People Officer, SurveyMonkey
Becky Cantieri, Chief People Officer at SurveyMonkey discusses how HR can unlock its full potential in 2024.
Amid economic instability, HR teams are expected to be the anchor that keeps businesses steady, ensuring they always keep sight of the most vital component: their people. There’s no question but that employees are a big part of the driving force behind a company’s success, therefore HR teams hold the key to shaping a thriving company culture, to enhancing performance, and to safeguarding a business’ reputation.
So, how will 2024 shape up for HR teams? If I have learned anything the last few years, it is that by adapting to the changing times and harnessing the new opportunities that data insights and AI bring, HR professionals will be able to capitalise on shifts in the landscape in order to best propel their teams to greater heights.
As we look into the new year, there are a few predictions most top of mind for me:
HR teams will be the anchor of stability in turbulent times
The Bank of England is predicting zero growth for the UK economy until 2025 and businesses nationwide are bracing themselves for further uncertainty. In this landscape, HR teams will play a crucial part in guiding organisations forward.
I have learned that navigating any change, especially ones unprecedented as this, always begins with a company’s most valuable asset, its people. People are at the helm of all we do, and when we as leaders understand and acknowledge the vitality in the employee experience, we are equipped with all we need to thrive.
In fact, recent SurveyMonkey research found 67% of HR professionals think HR has played a larger role in the employee experience since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of these, 68% cite higher expectations of HR, and more than half say company leaders view HR as vital to the culture of success. HR professionals are uniquely positioned to see all areas of a business. This means we recognise that employees are the lifeblood of any organisation and know firsthand the power of understanding their needs fully.
By prioritising the wellbeing of people, companies put themselves in a stronger position to weather economic storms, because they are anchored by a workforce that is committed and driven. And HR teams are crucial to providing insight into employee sentiment and creating an environment of stability for teams.
Data will continue to be foundational to a successful HR strategy
Finance, product teams, marketing, and other critical roles don’t make investment, development, or strategy decisions without data, and neither should HR. However, our research shows that getting feedback on employee performance, onboarding, and engagement is a challenge, even though these are the most common metrics to measure HR success. Our survey also cited 85% of HR professionals have employee feedback programs in place, but a staggering 72% worry that employees are not being honest in their feedback.
In 2024, it’s crucial that data-based insights become an HR department’s most vital tool. Using data insights and automation, HR teams will be better suited to shape strategies, identify trends in employee engagement, and customise HR programmes and initiatives catered to the workforce’s needs. By diving into rich and robust data across performance, feedback, engagement, intent to stay, and growth aspirations, HR teams are equipped to develop individualised growth paths and custom training programs that demonstrate their employees’ voices are indeed being heard and their career aspirations are top of mind. The most successful HR teams will be those who are able to dissect employee feedback and mine it for relevant and actionable data-based insights—while maintaining authenticity and trust.
In terms of retaining talent, HR teams can also use data to analyse employee turnover and pinpoint potential causes for resignations. This data-driven approach will allow HR professionals to get ahead of the game and act swiftly and proactively to address feedback, mitigate retention risks, promote a positive atmosphere in the workplace and ultimately, put their employees first.
AI in HR will be a game-changer
AI is grabbing headlines left and right, so it is no surprise we will see a considerable rise when it comes to AI in HR, especially for recruitment and hiring processes. In 2023, companies recognised that AI had potential but due to employer scepticism, only just scratched the surface and are yet to grasp the full power of AI. 2024 will be the year this gap closes as workers realise the benefits of these smart technologies. For example, our recent research shows that six in ten (62%) of HR professionals have used AI for HR tasks at least once a week for the last three months.
AI will be particularly useful in streamlining recruitment processes by helping write job descriptions free of bias and generate interview questions. No one wants to waste valuable time applying for a job that isn’t right for them, and AI can help solve for this. By screening candidates and matching them to the job requirements, we will see an improved calibre of candidates for each job and a reduced bias in the recruitment process.
In fact, my team has even implemented an AI tool to flag potentially biassed language in job descriptions. So long as we continue to prioritise employee engagement and maintain trust in the workplace, AI will accelerate hiring processing and help build diverse and inclusive teams.
While AI in HR will continue to change the game, a human first approach cannot be forgotten
In an era of digitisation, we still need to prioritise a human-first approach. At SurveyMonkey, we unofficially coined the term the “other” AI: authentic input. While artificial intelligence (in HR, and all job functions!) will continue to make an impact on the way we work and learn, it will be important for leaders to not lose sight of what your people want, need, and expect from you, especially during these challenging times. Understanding your employees’ nuanced (and sometimes changing) thoughts, emotions, preferences, and sentiments, so that leaders can best listen and act, is still of vital importance.
Data insights and AI are powerful, but ensuring the employees are always put first will mean we can unlock the full potential of HR teams, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty.