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Each month, we explore the top trending topics in the HR and recruitment space. June is Employee Wellness Month, so many of the trending discussions have a wellbeing lens.
HR is talking about how to effectively support employees’ mental wellbeing and communicate wellbeing initiatives to potential candidates.
Other HR professionals and experts are talking about using ‘work design’ to better manage employees’ workloads and stressors to protect psychosocial wellbeing.
Another discussion being had is about the multiple benefits of building eco-friendly office spaces and how going ‘green’ helps to attract workers back into the workplace.
There have also been developments in the ways artificial intelligence (AI) will be regulated in the future to enhance privacy and security, which employers will need to adapt to in order to continue to harness AI systems.
Keep reading to learn more about the five trending topics in the HR and talent acquisition space this month.
With World Environment Day being celebrated earlier this month, it seems only fitting that a key trend for June focuses on eco-friendly workplaces and workspaces.
This recent article by People Matters explores how to build eco-friendly office spaces and the benefits of doing so.
It may be tempting to ask this question if your organisation has focused on hybrid work over the past few years. However, many roles still require office attendance and office numbers have been steadily increasing as pandemic restrictions reduce and confidence around returning increases. Businesses are seeing the benefits of in-person interactions, and there are many jobs that require employees to attend workspaces, such as hospitality and retail.
There are many benefits of making workspaces eco-friendly. For one, going ‘green’ reduces carbon emissions which is appealing to a climate-conscious society. Secondly, creating eco-friendly work spaces encourages people to return to the office.
The People Matters article notes that eco-friendly spaces can cater to employees’ needs and leads to higher job satisfaction, stronger employee engagement and increased productivity. The article also states that employees working in ‘green’ buildings have better sleep, less sickness and higher cognitive function.
Eco-friendly office spaces will appeal to Generation Z especially. Deloitte research found that in order to engage younger workers, organisations must demonstrate a commitment to tackling climate change and improving sustainability.
There are many things organisations can do to promote sustainability at work, including:
Going ‘green’ benefits employers, employees and the environment. When organisations make changes – big or small – to improve their sustainability, they will likely experience better employee engagement and performance.
Xref is proud to promote sustainability. We help organisations to go paperless by digitising processes and using cloud-based file sharing, which has environmental, operational, and financial benefits. Find out more about our sustainability efforts here.
As the world navigates and adapts to the advancing development of artificial intelligence (AI), discussions around ethics and safety are getting louder. Generative AI – the type of AI that collects and uses data to create content such as images, video and text, such as ChatGPT – is causing concern in relation to data privacy and security as well as misinformation, plagiarism and copyright infringement.
The European Union (EU) is leading the way in creating legislation around AI to manage safety risks. The Artificial Intelligence Act (AI Act) is a legal framework proposed in 2021 that will regulate AI in and around the EU. It's expected that the EU AI Act will have a global impact and influence other countries to follow suit, similar to the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
According to the EU proposed legislation, AI systems must be monitored by people to ensure they are safe. AI systems that are deemed unsafe, manipulative or exploitative will be prohibited.
An article by HR Grapevine distils the legislation’s approach to three risk categories:
A major focus of the EU AI Act is to eliminate the risk of discrimination and bias by AI systems. This poses challenges for employers who rely on AI technology to recruit candidates, as discriminating against individuals or groups of people has severe consequences. Although laws around discrimination already exist, organisations don’t want to fall victim to fines.
To continue to use AI systems in the workplace, employers will ensure that they and the providers they use comply with regulations and that practices are safe.
Employees deserve to feel safe at work, both physically and psychosocially. Work health and safety (WHS) laws require employers to ensure the safety of workers by “minimising or eliminating psychosocial risks”.
Psychosocial refers to both psychological and social aspects, and psychosocial damage has detrimental effects on workplace morale, productivity and performance.
According to an article by HRD, common psychosocial risks in the workplace include:
To help employers create psychosocially safe work spaces, the Australian government developed the People at Work survey. Using this survey, employees can gain clarity on what their employees deem to be harmful to psychosocial wellbeing. The survey responses can provide insight into the likelihood of burnout among employees as well as the risk of conflict and high-stress scenarios.
Another way to encourage better communication between employees and employers is to use pulse surveys. Xref Pulse Surveys enables organisations to administer quick pulse surveys to determine how employees feel about their roles and the workplace. The more insight an employer has into the sentiment of employees, the better they can spot and address any issues that may compromise employees’ wellbeing and ability to perform their duties.
To protect the psychosocial safety of employees and create a productive working environment, employers must actively eliminate psychosocial stressors. The HRD article says focussing on ‘work design’ is the key to this.
Work design may sound like just another workplace buzzword, but its principles help organisations to better manage and care for employees.
Safe Work Australia defines work design in its Principles of good work design handbook:
“Work design describes how design can be used to set up the workplace, working environment and work tasks to protect the health and safety of workers, taking into account their range of abilities and vulnerabilities.”
The handbook notes that “good work design optimises work health and safety, human performance, job satisfaction, and business success.”
According to an article by The Conversation, it isn’t the actual tasks employees perform that cause them stress, but rather the employer’s culture and the way job roles are designed.
According to Safe Work Australia’s handbook, achieving good work design requires organisations to consider the who, what, when, where, why and how work gets done. The HRD article suggests organisations must assess the psychosocial risk, put controls in place, measure the impact of those controls, and identify opportunities for improvement.
An example of psychosocial risk is heavy workloads that are causing employees to burnout. HR may look at gaps within teams to determine whether additional pressure is placed on team members. A possible approach could be to deconstruct each role to determine its responsibilities and prioritise critical work. With a clear understanding of who does what, organisations can reallocate tasks or perhaps hire contractors or new employees to ensure workloads are manageable.
June is Employee Wellness Month in the US, which shines a spotlight on the importance of supporting employees’ physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing.
Last month, Virgin Pulse conducted its 2023 Global Survey: Workplace Health and Health and Wellbeing Priorities survey in partnership with YouGov. It surveyed over 1,000 HR business partners and senior managers across multiple regions including Australia, UK, US and Canada.
The survey looked at employee engagement, workplace culture, communication, and health and wellbeing initiatives. The findings revealed that 71% of organisations that offer health and wellbeing programs see clear ROI and 67% ranked positive employee behaviours as a top outcome of their programs.
A major challenge facing organisations is mental health and work-related stress. Therefore 56% and 49% of respondents said that mental health and stress management are top priorities for 2024 respectively.
According to the survey findings, factors that harm employee mental wellbeing include poor leadership, inefficient support and unmanageable workloads.
To reduce the toll that work takes on employees’ mental health, an article by The Conversation recommends the following:
Employers should also ensure that employees are aware of mental health benefits and initiatives. Creating awareness is a challenge for many organisations according to Virgin Pulse’s wellbeing survey, and email is the primary communication channel to raise awareness of benefits. However, the use of social media to communicate benefits is growing: 66% of respondents say they communicate benefits through social media, up from 21% back in 2018.
At Xref, we communicate our wellbeing offerings clearly and regularly across instant messaging and via our company intranet so employees know exactly what support is offered and where they can receive it.
LinkedIn research found that job seekers gravitate towards job descriptions that mention company culture and take time to highlight the company’s approach to wellbeing and opportunities for flexibility.
The research over the past two years found that job descriptions that cite wellbeing, flexibility and culture receive nearly twice as many views (46%) and twice as many applications (49%) compared to those that don’t mention these values.
This trend suggests that job seekers are attracted to companies that appear to care for employee wellbeing and are actively taking steps to look after their employees. It goes without saying that these elements should only be highlighted in a job description if they can be delivered, or an organisation risks breaking trust with new and existing employees and damaging its employer brand.
It should also be noted that while job seekers may gravitate towards words like ‘wellbeing’ and ‘flexibility’, these are buzzwords and can appear ‘fluffy’. One way to make these proclamations more meaningful is to show proof, which can be done through LinkedIn’s Life page.
The Life page on LinkedIn is a tab on a company’s LinkedIn profile designed to showcase the company culture and employee benefits.
Xref has recently launched its Life page where potential candidates can get a feel of what it’s like to work at Xref. We discuss who we are, our flexible and diverse working environment and our values. We also include employee testimonials as well as photos of the team at the office, celebrating wins and attending industry events.
While job descriptions are important and do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to attracting candidates, it’s crucial to not only tell but to show. Offering job seekers extra insight into your company culture is a great way to attract the brightest talent into your ranks.
Many discussions in the HR space in June focus on supporting employee wellbeing by managing workloads and stressors. This starts with employers improving work design by determining the roles and responsibilities of each role and identifying gaps in teams.
When roles are determined, they should be communicated clearly in job descriptions, as well as any wellbeing initiatives and opportunities for flexibility the company offers. These benefits should be reiterated across the company website and on LinkedIn.
With conversations around the safety of AI and its usage within organisations, especially for recruitment purposes, employers should keep one eye out on developments to ensure they remain compliant.
It’s also great to see that conversations about creating more environmentally-friendly workspaces are gaining traction, as this will have an incredible impact on the environment and improve employee wellbeing and engagement.
To learn more about the HR and recruitment trends in 2023, check out the key HR and recruitment trends for May 2023.