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Human resources

HR Trends 2024: What to look out for

HR Trends 2024: What to look out for

Our HR Partner Mentor have shared some insight into some key trends that may have impacted your business this year and is likely to continue into 2024.  Here are some things to look out for and consider as we move into the new year.

Mental Health

87% of employees say they feel a sense of work-related dread at least once a month, with nearly half (49%) saying they feel a sense of dread at least once a week.

Here are Headspace’s top 5 actions to reduce dread for both you and your team;

  • Clearly outline responsibilities and allow for flexibility to create a more positive work environment.
  • Consistently communicate “The Why.”
  • Practice “Ruthless Prioritisation.”
  • Focus on what you can control.
  • Daily self-compassion and reflection.

Inclusion & Diversity

According to a CIPD report, SMEs are less likely than larger organisations to have an I&D strategy and action plan or be proactive in their I&D approach. They are also less likely to have a 5-year plan which has a focus on different areas across I&D. Micro (1–9 people) and small businesses (10–49 people) are less likely than medium-sized (50–249 people) and large organisations to use most of the recruitment practices that can help support I&D.

Simple practices to implement:

  • Use structured or standardised interview questions.
  • Ensure that all involved in recruiting follow objective assessments and scoring criteria.
  • Explain expectations about inclusive behaviour when onboarding employees.
  • Review job descriptions to accurately reflect the requirements of the job.

Only a minority of micro and small businesses said they train managers to manage people in a fair and inclusive way, it was also noted there was a lack of education around inclusive leadership.

Other practices to consider include:

  • Gender neutral bathrooms to allow everyone to feel comfortable using the facilities.
  • Gender neutral language in your dress code policy.
  • Keep records of chosen names and correct pronouns.
  • Encourage name badges and email signatures to display any relevant information.
  • Invest in training programs and ensure your employee handbook content is up to date and mindful of the above.

Neurodiversity

Why make changes?

Employees may not choose to disclose (or be aware) they are neurodivergent. It is widely accepted that neuraminates represent in total a large percentage of the overall population, likely greater than 10%. ‘We need to admit that there is no standard brain,’ wrote Thomas Armstrong in his pivotal work The Power of Neurodiversity. The term neurodiversity refers to the infinite range of differences in individual human brain function and behavioural traits. Neurodiverse people can bring unique and valuable strengths to their work and managing with neurodivergent people in mind is likely to benefit the whole team.

Managing with Neurodiversity in Mind – here are some things to consider:

  • When introducing tasks ensure that communication is clear and easy to comprehend
  • Look to be flexible to an individual’s needs where possible
  • Regularly provide structured and constructive feedback
  • Introduce change sensitively and within a reasonable time frame
  • Provide and raise awareness of any support and pastoral care

Flexible working

Post-lockdown working arrangements continue to be a hot topic, at times causing contention between employees and employers.  People Management reports that a recent poll found that 60% of UK workers would like more flexibility as to when they work, and 75% of respondents said flexible working was the most important benefit. Global figures show that employees only spend an average of 1.4 days a week in the office. Prior to the pandemic, employees were in the office an average of 4 days a week in the UK. There is no automatic right for flexible working to be granted, you can decline the request providing the reason falls into at least one of the following categories:

  • the burden of additional costs
  • detrimental effect on the ability to meet customer demand
  • inability to reorganise work among existing employees
  • inability to recruit additional employees
  • detrimental impact on quality
  • detrimental impact on performance
  • insufficient work during the periods that the employee proposes to work
  • planned changes in the business

Like anything, there are pros and cons.  Issues such as measuring productivity and fostering a culture of innovation are often mentioned by employers. It might take some creativity to overcome these and to change the way we work. The risk of not moving with the times is that we become a less attractive prospect to jobseekers

Supporting New mothers at work

1 in 10 working mothers leave their jobs due to childcare pressures.  Only one-third of working mothers have access to the flexible working arrangements they need and working mothers are 1.4 times more likely to feel the financial burden of childcare costs compared to working fathers.

How can we help?

Have a clear policy framework and decide how you will share this with management, parents and those hoping to become parents.

  • use data to understand your retention, training and promotion of employees after they have taken maternity, paternity or parental leave;
  • embed flexible working options;
  • champion affordable childcare
  • support paternity and parental leave to champion sharing of childcare responsibilities.

Legislative changes

Right to request more predictable working hours

The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Act 2023 has been passed and is expected to come into force in around September 2024. It will give employees and workers (including agency workers) whose work patterns vary in a way that is unpredictable the right to request more predictable terms and conditions of employment. Employees on fixed-term contracts of 12 months or less will be able to apply for an extension to their contract or a move to a permanent contract

Proposed changes to Paternity Leave

The government has announced some tweaks to paternity leave rules that are likely to take effect in April 2024. The new rules will allow leave to be taken in two separate blocks of one week, and within 52 weeks of birth/placement for adoption (instead of the current 8-week period). The amount of notice to be given to the employer of the leave period starting will also be reduced to 28 days.

The importance of “right to work” checks

To comply with obligations to prevent illegal working, an employer must carry out “right to work” checks on all prospective employees before the employment starts, as well as conducting follow-up checks on employees who have a time-limited permission to live and work in the UK (and keeping records of all the checks carried out). The maximum civil penalty that an employer currently faces is £20,000 for each individual who does not have the right to work. In August 2023, the Home Office announced that in 2024, the maximum civil penalty will be tripled to £60,000 per illegal worker.

Our partnership with NatWest Mentor

Delivered in partnership with NatWest Mentor, we offer a range of HR consultancy services to ensure business owners are fully compliant with employment law and health and safety obligations. Our services also ease the burden of people management, recruitment and admin overload.

As part of our partnership with NatWest Mentor we are also able to offer you access to their online management tool, Mentor Digital, free of charge. Register for Mentor Digital here.