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General Business
Managing People
Employment & HR

The Challenges and Transformations Shaping HR's Agenda in 2024

Primed Team
20 May 2024 3 minutes

Over the last couple of years, a whirlwind of change and events has swept through the professional world. Leaving a profound impact on employees and pushed change upon the landscape of Human Resources (HR). As we move through 2024, it's crucial to examine the pressing concerns facing HR professionals at this landmark stage in development. Read on to unravel the challenges and transformations shaping HR's agenda in the close future.

Mental health in the workplace

What jumps out about recent times? Pandemic, cost of living crisis, other significant burdens? A variety of mental health issues have surfaced as a result. According to Spill 81% of workplaces have increased emphasis on mental health, progress overall is evident. There is still ground to cover; challenging common misconceptions and prejudice remains high on the to do list.

Managing mental health can be complex, especially when individuals haven’t disclosed or recognised their struggles. How can employers navigate this?

Firstly, mental health episodes may happen, sometimes without prior disclosure of mental health conditions. These situations can be delicate, as affected individuals may not realise their behaviours stem from a mental health episode. Behaviours may vary from being unrelated to work performance to concerning conduct within the workplace.

Open communication is a must. Sitting down with the individual and asking if they’re okay can be crucial. If concerns continue, a well-being check should be conducted to explore the appropriate course of action. Studies have shown that Taking time to know your employees is just as vital as asking a direct question of “Are you ok”. Those general conversations about someone weekend or an event allows a manager to gain greater understanding of that employee. They can inform on what motivates and conversely switches them off. The greatest benefit is being able to know if an individual is experiencing mental health issues by reading their body language. This enables the conversation, and through trust gained by having these conversations, an employee is more likely to open up.

Employers must tread carefully, recognising their role – employers not medical professionals. However, managers should be given the tools to signpost appropriate. Throughout any procedure potential mental health issues should be acknowledged, maintaining fairness and support. Given the individual nature of mental health, each situation may require a different approach.

Legal changes introduced this year

This year has seen significant legal changes affecting HR practices, such as:

  • Amendments to flexible working regulations
  • Changes in redundancy protection laws
  • Expanded paternity leave provisions
  • Updates in caring for dependents legislation
  • Monetary adjustments, including increases in minimum wage.

These legal changes are steps forward for making work fairer and more supportive. But for HR personnel, it’s a challenge to put these steps into action and ensure they aid the ever evolving workplace.

Handling difficult conversations at work

Both mental health and new regulations can lead to difficult conversations. Here, according to Emma Serlin three fundamental principles come into play: understanding, curiosity, and honesty.

Understanding involves gaining insight into both yours and the other person’s perspective, fostering a broader understanding of the issue presented. Gained, mostly as shown above, through trust.

Curiosity facilitates exploring the reasons behind the other person’s actions or perspectives, bridging gaps in expectations or values.

Honesty entails sharing feelings openly and authentically, laying the groundwork for constructive dialogue and mutual empathy.

Additionally, acknowledging your role in addressing performance, conduct, personal problems, grievances, or conflicts is vital. While anxiety or discomfort may be present, proactive approaches can mitigate these challenges. Establishing open communication channels, staying attuned to warning signs, and seeking support when necessary are key strategies.

Here are some ideas for supportive, productive outcomes:

 

  • Active listening is important. Paying attention not just to what someone says, but also how they say it and what their face or body is doing. Everyone uses some degree of body language to help explain what they’re saying.
  • Take yourself out the picture. When someone is explaining their experiences we tend to think about our own experiences and what to say next rather than listening to their frames of reference.
  • It’s paramount to stay in charge but allow others to have their say. Even though you might want to be friendly, it’s more important to be clear and act professionally. Staying calm and fair helps make sure the conversation goes well.
  • Being in control doesn’t mean someone has a victory or loss. It’s about finding solutions that work for everyone. Believing in your ability to communicate and handle tough conversations is key to making them successful.

Get answers to your HR challenges with our unlimited HR advice line, giving you the confidence to manage people effectively.

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