The UK workforce went through significant changes in 2014; from the introduction of shared parental leave and flexible working legislation to a massive increase in the adoption of mobile and tablet technologies that help facilitate remote working. At the same time, HR specialists had to contend with a major increase in the use of big data for HR analytics, changing systems and new workforce expectations – all in all – a busy 12 months for those in the profession.

In 2015, the pace of change will grow faster still, HR professionals are most likely to see pressure in two main areas; changing legislation and workforce retention – especially as both relate to helping employees avoid technology fuelled burnout. HR professionals can use this period at the start of the year to plan ahead and make sure they have their priorities in order.

HR Legislation in 2015

HR professionals across the UK have been forewarned of the legislative amendments coming into play in 2015. Along with changes to managing sickness absence, there will be modifications to statutory pay rates and leave allowances, plus auto enrolment pensions and a whole litany of other developments.  These changes, combined with the recent introduction of shared parental leave and flexible working rights, will have a substantial impact on the 2015 workplace.

HR professionals will be obligated to integrate these legislations into HR strategies. In order to do this, they will have to obtain a thorough understanding of the impact these laws have on the workplace as well as individual employees.

By learning about these changes now, HR professionals can prepare the workforce for what to expect this year. They will need to be able to answer any questions employees may have about the legislation and also prevent businesses from incurring potentially detrimental tribunal pay-outs, which are often the product of overlooking legal obligations.

Retention of a skilled workforce

Although half of UK businesses are looking to expand their workforce in 2015[i], skills shortages and talent gaps have become prominent concerns among business leaders. In fact, half of those working in the UK in 2014 saw talent gaps due to cuts and a lack of recruitment as a threat to their organisation; whilst over a third saw a talent drain to other organisations as a major concern[ii].

As the UK economy grows, some employees may seek opportunities elsewhere, in short – the war for talent will continue to rage. Losing good people is costly and spending significant time and money on recruitment is both wasteful and risky.

This headache can often be avoided if leaders would spend just a fraction of that effort on keeping their existing talent happy and focused. It’s our view that HR professionals could help their organisations invest time and resources in the retention of a stable and capable workforce in 2015. 

Tech burnout

It is worth thinking about this trend in 2015. Technology and mobile devices have made it possible for people to work beyond traditional 9 to 5 hours. This ‘always on’ culture is changing the work-life balance that employees strive to obtain.

According to the recent ADP Workforce View study, over one quarter of employees are feeling their workplace is encroaching into their home life[iii]. Consequently, some staff can become worn down by being ‘always on’. Not only does this negatively impact employee well-being, it also affects staff morale and decreases workplace productivity.

Incorporating some ‘softer’ elements into your activity plan, such as proactively helping employees cope with increasing demands of an ‘always on’ business, while meeting the needs of those worst affected by burnout, are likely to be ever more pressing priorities this year.

2015 at a glance

2015 is going to be a big year for HR professionals; prioritising and planning ahead is of course, critical to success.

Keeping up to date with evolving HR legislation on everything from pensions to sickness is time consuming, but important if organisations are to avoid potentially damaging situations and tribunal pay-outs.

Beyond the functional regulation, the longstanding HR mission of driving employee engagement is ever more important as the war for talent continues. Finally, paying particular attention to the impact of new technologies on employee morale, will help HR teams to be more efficient, and avoid spending unnecessary hours and resources on recruiting new talent – whilst keeping your organisations focused on what they do best.

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