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11 January 2018

What are the people professions biggest concerns for 2018?

Looking ahead in 2018, a survey of more than 500 HR professionals reveals what their biggest concerns are.

The CIPD surveyed 553 HR professionals last week about their biggest concerns for 2018. The new data protection regulations came out as the most significant, voted as the top concern by nearly half of respondents. This was followed by well-being and mental health, and pay and reward.

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Below is some insight from the CIPD on tackling some of these crucial issues going forward:

Data protection regulation – 48% of respondents said it was their biggest concern for 2018

While many organisations are already familiar with their data protection responsibilities under the Data Protection Act 1998, from May 2018 those duties will be tightened up under the General Data Protection Regulation.

The new rules herald a significant change in the culture, as well as the processes, of how organisations handle personal data and there are stiff penalties for falling foul of the law. HR has a crucial role to play in achieving the new goal for data protection. If you haven’t already, it’s vital that you take steps now to ensure that your organisation is prepared for the new data protection provisions.

As data protection law is a highly technical area and the cost of breaches could be large, not only financial but reputational, it’s worth seeking out appropriate legal and good practice advice and guidance at the outset. It’s also important that the new rules are properly communicated to the workforce so that all employees understand their new responsibilities and the consequences if they don’t comply.

Our factsheet on GDPR in the workplace is here.

Well-being and mental health – a third (30%) say it is their biggest concern for 2018

Every employee should feel that they can bring their whole self to work and that the workplace is a safe and supportive environment. Work should do more than meet our basic financial needs and contribute to economic growth; it should also improve the quality of our lives by giving us meaning and purpose and contributing to our overall well-being.

Fostering employee well-being can also be a core enabler of employee engagement and productivity, and there’s growing evidence that employee wellness programmes can have a positive impact on key organisational performance indicators.

The CIPD’s factsheet on employee well-being is here.

There also remains a lot of stigma about mental health, especially in the workplace. Increasing awareness of mental health issues across the workforce can help to break the silence and start to build a more open and inclusive culture.

Managers need to be trained so that they feel confident and competent to have conversations with staff about their mental health and signpost to specialist sources of support if necessary. HR should ensure that employees know how to access the support the organisation provides so they can do so even if they don’t wish to disclose an issue to their manager.

The CIPD’s guide to supporting mental health at work is here.

Integral to any successful well-being programme is an understanding of the importance of how financial concerns can affect employee mental and physical health, as well as a recognition that, as income providers, organisations play a vital role in their workers’ financial lives. There’s a clear case for taking action and supporting employee financial well-being, making it an integral part of creating a healthy workplace where people can flourish, reach their potential and make a significant contribution to their organisation’s performance.

The CIPD’s practical guidance on improving financial well-being is here.

Pay and Reward – 13% of respondents say it’s their biggest concern for 2018

With political and economic uncertainty continuing, 2018 looks set to be a year of pay plateauing. While there’s no doubt that reward and pay are important factors in attracting, retaining and engaging employees, there are many options available for organisations to reward their staff and recognise their contribution other than by increasing pay. While each option has their own opportunities and risks, the most effective reward packages will be aligned with the needs of the business and staff, and reflect the organisation’s purpose and performance.

The CIPD’s latest Reward Management Survey is here.

Organisations need to assess their levels of executive pay, and ensure that it is not excessive. CIPD research has found that excessive CEO pay and reward in the UK has a significant impact on the motivation and engagement levels of the wider workforce. In order to ensure that productivity doesn’t suffer as a result, chief executive reward packages need to be simpler and more clearly aligned to performance and business outcomes, both financial and non-financial.

The CIPD’s framework for executive remuneration is here.

Some employers will see their payroll costs increase in 2018 in response to increases in the National Living Wage and the minimum amount that they must contribute to their employees’ pensions. Employers should look at job, work and organisational design needed in order to gain the additional performance and productivity that will pay for these additional employment costs. HR should also explain to those employees that will see their own minimum pension contributions rise in 2018 and highlight the costs to them of opting out of the workplace pension.

Gender pay gap reporting – the biggest concern for 5% of HR professionals for 2018

If they haven’t already, HR teams across the UK in organisations with over 250 employees should be identifying and reporting on the differences between male and female earnings in their workplaces, using six different measures. The deadline to report is 4 April 2018.

Gender pay gap reporting is not just about producing the right data, in the right way and at the right time. Just as important is the story behind the gap and how you communicate this internally and externally, both before and after publishing the numbers and ideally, a narrative that explains them.

If you don’t yet have 250 people, it may still be a good exercise to work out your gender pay gap, in case you grow employ over 250 individuals in the future, or if the reporting requirements change to include smaller organisations. You can still report voluntarily and the process can help to shed light on workplace and recruitment practices that may need to be refined.

The CIPD’s Guide on gender pay gap reporting is here and the CIPD’s own gender pay gap report is here.

Sexual harassment – the biggest concern of 2018 for 4% of respondents

Over recent months, we’ve seen that not everyone is being treated with dignity and respect in the workplace. The responsibility to solve these problems lies with everyone in every organisation – from leaders helping to build safe and inclusive cultures, to HR professionals having the confidence to challenge unacceptable behaviour wherever they observe it and being a ‘safe place’ where employees can be heard in confidence and know that their concerns will be addressed.

HR professionals must play a part in clearly articulating the organisation’s policy on bullying and harassment at work, and signpost where employees can go if they need support or guidance.

When it comes to reporting, there must be a clear process to ensure that any complaints are treated promptly and with the seriousness they deserve and also in proportion to the claim being made in order to be fair to both the person making the claim and the individual that stands accused.

The CIPD’s guide on sexual harassment in the workplace is here.

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