How Strategic HR Leadership Is Evolving

By: Tim Schieffer

It’s hard to imagine a time before human resource professionals became the hub for recruitment, policy, benefits and employee engagement. With their acute understanding of today’s employee culture and organizational structure, they’re essential to include in executive-level discussions. 

infographic showing the evolution of Human Resources

Remote Worker Engagement 

As employees continue to embrace remote work, more is being asked of HR teams. Especially, how to engage deskless workers and maintain company culture in hybrid and virtual environments. 

HR professionals who can think at the macro level on how to attract, engage and retain talent are essential to business success. Equally important, leadership must support HR’s central role in developing strategy for employee engagement initiatives. 

Related: 4 Tips for Engaging Deskless Workers

Employee-Focused Strategies

Over the past 50 years, the workforce shifted from labor-based to service-focused, demanding HR departments to swiftly transition from process-centric to worker-centric. 

The challenge to find and keep top talent has led HR professionals to fine tune their hiring skills and retention practices. It’s also driven the need to understand what motivates a diverse, multi-generational workforce. A big ask for often small HR teams.

Yet, the competitive business environment demands that employee-centric initiatives get worked into business strategies at the highest level, giving HR leaders a seat at the C-suite table.

The Strategic Future of HR Leaders

“Workforce” is listed at number three of the top 10 CEO business priorities on a 2022-2023 Gartner CEO and Senior Business Executive Survey. That priority is up from the number five spot in the previous year’s survey, so it’s fair to say that executives will increasingly continue to lean on HR teams to support employee engagement and inspire a positive work culture. 

The Gartner 2023 HR Professionals Survey also identified major HR issues impacting today’s workforce, including leader and manager effectiveness and employee experience.

From these findings, our employee experience solutions team recognizes the following four top priorities as some of the biggest challenges HR leaders will seek to overcome in 2023. 

1. Maintaining Connection to Culture & Collaboration

Due to the increase in remote and hybrid work, culture and collaboration are at high risk of worsening. In fact, only one out of six employees feels connected to their organization, leadership and peers.

Instead of fighting hybrid and remote work’s place in today’s workforce, Forrester industry experts suggest embracing that the work-from-anywhere mentality is here to stay. This demands HR leaders design employee experiences that connect people in hybrid settings.

Related: Check out our ebook "How to Support Belonging In a Hybrid Workforce" for ideas on how to lead employees across geographically dispersed environments.

2. Decreasing Change Fatigue

With 45% of HR leaders saying their employees are impacted by change fatigue, it makes sense that HR teams are prioritizing the issue going forward. During times of great change, employees look to leaders for guidance. Organizations must ensure that their leadership and managers are properly prepared to lead necessary change.   

Related: Our ebook "How to Build a Resilient Organizational Culture" helps outline how to bounce back from times of uncertainty. 

3. Valuing Leadership Development 

Employees want to work where they feel safe and respected. Key relational skills like empathy, transparency and trustworthiness can help employers and managers create an ideal work environment. In turn, this creates a cycle where leaders listen, and employees are encouraged to share their ideas. It’s a win-win.

Related: Check out our insight The Heart of the Matter: Emotions in the Employee Experience for ideas on how leaders can support their workforce. 

4. Updating Employee Value Propositions 

Hiring with the same mindset you did just a handful of years ago could lead to overlooking what really matters to top talent. HR leaders are eager to understand what’s motivating their employees—and job seekers.

Related: Download our Employer Branding Portfolio to see how marketing for HR comes to life after a strong employee value proposition is identified. 

HR leadership’s constant evolution has helped more and more organizations create progress, and preparedness, in key business development areas—often centering on maintaining a highly connected culture with consideration for remote work. Share these key trends with your HR team to help shape the future of employee experience at your organization. Your business relies on it. 

Tim Schieffer
Tim Schieffer

Tim is the Employee Experience Insights and Strategy Leader for ITA Group. With 20+ years of experience serving clients in multiple industries, including e-commerce, communications and finance, he offers a unique perspective on how to attract and retain top talent. His passion for delivering personalized employee engagement strategies helps create cultures centered on empowering people. Outside of work, you'll find him cheering on the Green Bay Packers as a proud part-owner. Go Pack Go!