A Disturbing Trend in HR: You’re Reacting Too Much

Sometimes we’re thrown curveballs in the HR world. Most of us felt a little like deer in headlights when the pandemic hit in 2020 and then it was a quick flurry of survival mode to respond. We’ve seen our fair share of upheaval in the workforce and we’re all working to make our own teams more resilient in the long run. But at People Element, we’ve seen a disturbing trend happening in companies and it all comes down to this mentality of survival. We’ve seen way too many companies shifting to a reactive posture instead of a proactive posture.  

And we can’t keep quiet.  

Reacting in HR 

Don’t get us wrong – we need to react to some things that pop up at us. When we’re concerned about workplace culture, we absolutely must be aware of the issues and trends that we have to respond to. However, the disturbing trend we’re seeing arise more and more is when a company focuses only on reacting. And when you do that – you’re already behind!  

Proactive HR 

What if instead, you are thinking about what’s to come in the next one, five, and ten years? 

How often are you thinking about the economy and what that means for workforce trends? 

How often are you looking at political cycles to see what could be in store for your company?  

How much pop culture are you observing and learning about in younger generations? 

Have you evaluated your current workforce for upcoming retirements that might lead to big holes in your team?  

We’ll tell you right now, the answer is that most companies have maybe thought about one, maybe two, of the questions above. Many companies have never taken the time to self-reflect in any fashion. Most are looking at solving the problems they have right in front of them. Very few will take a longer-range view to see what problems could be staring them in the face a year or two years from now that they could address before they are even an issue.  

Real-World Example

For example, if you’re in a situation where layoffs are happening in your industry, economists are warning of a recession, and you notice other signs of economic stress, you might start to notice a few things internally. You may notice your employee retention has leveled off. Sounds great, right? Especially after the upheaval and migration in jobs after the pandemic/work-from-home trend kicked off.  

Now, let’s play this out from a year or two down the road… 

If your company has some major culture issues, management issues, or other red flags, you would never know because the one metric you’re looking at (employee retention) looks good for now. However, as economic stress lessens, you may suddenly find a mass exodus of employees who had only stuck around for the stability of having a job during a tough economic season.  

Odds are, you had some underlying issues and blind spots the whole time, but by the time you realize you have a problem, you suddenly have a huge staff shortage to address. And so, the fire fighting continues on.  

A Better Way 

Instead of dealing with these fires on the tail end of an economic slump, what if you were proactive about addressing your blind spots? What if you took the time, today, to understand why people love working with your team as well as what they dislike? What if you had a way to gather that information in a safe, unfiltered way?  

If you aren’t already collecting employee feedback through tools like employee surveys, stay interviews, or regular check ins, now might be the time to start.  

During this season when employees are less likely to turn in their notice, you could actually be working to improve your culture and work environment, which in turn reduces the amount of turnover when economic conditions improve.  

Is it clicking for you?  

A little bit of proactive work now will save your team in the long run. We’re not asking you to predict the future, but we are encouraging you to at least consider it. The more you focus on being BOTH proactive and reactive, the better your team will function. Instead of feeling like you’re playing firefighter, you’ll instead be walking through any cycle of workforce trends with a quiet calm, knowing you’ve done everything possible for success. 

More about People Element 

In order to truly understand and inspire your employees, you must listen and engage them at every step of their journey with your organization. Regardless of where your people are at in the employee journey, People Element’s employee survey platform can help you connect. They make it easy to ask, listen and act on what matters most, resulting in a healthier, more successful workplace. Request a demo today. 

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