What HR wants this festive season…

The countdown to the winter holidays has begun, and HR people like you are no doubt looking forward to a well-earned break.

With the turbulent year coming to a close, many of us are hoping for a more positive outlook for 2022. So, to get you into the festive spirit, here are seven things we think you’d probably like to receive this winter holiday…

HR christmas office

1. Some more certainty

The past year has been a rollercoaster; with the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and now the upcoming winter months all playing havoc with our usual routines. 2021 has been anything but predictable!

For HR, it’s undoubtedly been hectic – especially when on top of the usual people management duties, they’ve also played a huge part in supporting staff wellbeing, improving DEI, tackling much-publicised labour shortages and managing the end of furlough schemes…

With HR’s resources being stretched to the limits, a quieter, and perhaps more predictable 2022 would be just what we all need in order to regroup, re-focus and re-energise.

Dear Santa, it would be great if we could return to some sort of normality come next year. Thank you!

2. A crisis-free (and Covid-free) end-of-year party

‘Tis the season to be jolly – but if your company has decided to have an in-person party to celebrate the winter break, you’re probably nervously crossing your fingers and hoping the end-of-year party passes without incident.

However, there’s the ever-present possibility that: 1) everyone gets Covid due to the gathering; 2) an alcohol-fuelled employee will tell their manager what they really think about them; 3) someone will photocopy their bottom.

Given the year HR have endured, it would be great if any festive parties go off without a hitch this year…

Dear Santa, a New Year without the prospect of a disciplinary hearing and sick employees would be very nice…

3. No holiday request rush

Despite prior notices to use up their allowance, there will always be a few employees clamouring to book their remaining holiday entitlements around this time of year, making it a particularly challenging period for HR. This has been made worse by the fact that due to travel restrictions being in place for most of the year, some have felt they will book holidays once those restrictions have lifted.

Now, many employees may have been left with a huge number of unused holidays that will just go to waste. At the same time, it’s not like the business can afford to let everyone use it up at once; however, not being able to approve last-minute or overlapping requests can create disgruntled staff. It’s a tough situation to be in.

Here’s hoping that the rush to book that precious time off won’t cause HR teams a huge headache…

Dear Santa, please let everyone know to plan and book their holidays ahead of time and don’t leave it all on the last days.

4. Peace and goodwill among employees

The festive break is nearly here and joy is all around – well at least that’s what HR practitioners would like anyway. With increasing levels of stress and burnout in the workplace, disagreements and tension between employees can easily arise.

Staff spats take up inordinate amounts of HR time. Managers come barging through HR’s door demanding someone be instantly sacked – or worse, announce to HR that they have just told someone they’re sacked. On the other side of the coin, employees come knocking on HR’s door complaining their manager is giving them too much work/not enough money/a hard time. And we won’t even talk about the toxic colleagues who perpetuate a bullying culture in the workplace.

Wouldn’t it be great if in 2022, everyone could just get along?

Dear Santa, if everyone could get on just for a few days it would be so nice. PS. Please also give all managers a copy of the staff handbook with the disciplinary procedures page highlighted in red.

5. Technology that just works

How much annual leave do I have left? When is the next round of appraisals due? How much time off sick have my team had in the last month? The list of questions from employees and managers is endless.

Come year-end, it can become easy for HR teams to become swamped in paperwork; struggling to get their noses out of numerous spreadsheets and are running out of time to go and buy the turkey. Plus, old disjointed HR systems are just as unhelpful if you have to enter the same data more than once and when you can’t find the information you need straightaway.

Wouldn’t it be great to kick off the new year with an HR system that just… works?

Dear Santa, please can we have an online HR system that can help streamline the necessary people processes, so we can spend time next year concentrating on strategic planning and actions.

6. Wise man (or woman) status

All year round, HR has been turning up at the board’s (stable) door, bearing gifts.

May we present you with this talent management strategy? Please accept the HR data you need to inform your business decisions. Here, with our compliments, is an employee engagement programme designed to help the business get the best out of its people?

But is HR appreciated for the long journey it’s been on and the offerings it brings to the table? A lot of the time – no. Despite how well HR has taken the lead in helping businesses navigate all the uncertainties, poor old HR is still struggling to win the respect it most certainly deserves.

Given how indispensable many HR teams have been over the past year, wouldn’t it be fabulous for HR teams to be brought in from the cold?

Dear Santa, if you’d like to bring us some festive cheer, how about organising some senior management support and a better understanding of the value HR can bring?

7. A less Scrooge-like budget

When the money’s being handed out, the HR department is often pretty low down in the queue, even more so with all the changes that have happened this year.

Marketing gets the big bucks (most of the time), IT rarely has to argue for investment; but HR tends to fall into the Bob Cratchit category and has to scratch around with a budget that’s frankly lacking in festive sparkle. Scrooge is alive and well in the finance department and although HR can always hope, he’s unlikely to turn up on Christmas eve with a bag full of gold coins…

Maybe 2022 could be the year that hard working HR teams are rewarded with the budgets they really need?

Dear Santa, we know everyone’s had to tighten their belt this year, but for HR to be able to continue managing through new challenges that come our way, we’d really appreciate it if you could find a bit extra next year.

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