A new study looks at how HR leaders are adapting to support their employees in a new era of work. The sixth annual report from Paychex, Inc., a leading provider of integrated human capital management software solutions for human resources, payroll, benefits, and insurance services, shows that only 15% of companies have staff working exclusively on-site, reflecting the growing emphasis on remote and hybrid work.
The survey of 1,000 HR leaders across the U.S. reveals that as more teams are dispersed and adopt flexible schedules, HR professionals believe tools and more opportunities for training and career development are essential to supporting remote/hybrid employees and managers, including:
"The current environment has redefined the priorities of an HR professional, forcing them to adapt at lightning speed," said Alison Stevens, director of HR Services, Paychex. "With the right tools and peer insights, HR professionals can respond to what matters most to their workforce, deliver on what they need to be happy and engaged, and create a workplace – no matter where they're working from – that benefits their employees and their business."
HR technology tools have helped HR professionals streamline tasks and manage new and ongoing responsibilities more efficiently, helping to alleviate some of this burden of managing remote work. The research shows:
Tracking staff hours worked is now the most time-consuming task for HR professionals and their teams. That activity was cited by 25% of respondents and ranked just ahead of compliance and data management, which have topped the list of most time-consuming tasks in previous years1.
Despite their importance, hiring, onboarding, and retention were identified by half of respondents as the least effective HR activities in their organizations. When asked to share the tactics that are currently working best to increase the number of job applicants, using third-party job sites (33%), employee referrals (33%), hiring remote workers (31%), and emphasizing diversity (31%) topped the list.
The most effective ways to encourage candidates to accept job offers according to the survey included the following:
The top strategies for retaining employees are similar to the ones used to encourage candidates to accept offers: offering flexible hours and remote work (41%) and increasing compensation (36%). Other ways to increase employee retention include focusing on employee engagement, stated by 35% of respondents, demonstrating a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion at 31%, and providing pay transparency and holding "stay" interviews to learn about employees' needs and aspirations, both cited by 27% of all respondents.
Four in ten HR leaders see the benefit of remote work saying that it improves employee emotional, physical, and financial well-being, boosts retention, enhances quality of work, and increases productivity.
Steps and approaches to support remote or hybrid employees include:
Sixty percent of HR leaders are concerned about employee burnout, up 18% from before the COVID-19 pandemic. Strategies for supporting employee well-being and alleviating employee burnout include providing flexible work schedules (41%), emphasizing work/life balance as part of company culture (31%), and encouraging managers to create clear job descriptions and expectations to make work feel manageable (29%).
To successfully engage their employees, HR professionals need to track what's most important to their workforce and work to continuously address their needs. Regularly surveying employees about job satisfaction serves as the top strategy for fostering engagement at 41%. Offering job and leadership skills training, and encouraging more communication between employees and managers represent the next two most effective approaches for cultivating employee engagement at 37% and 36%, respectively.
Four in ten HR leaders are incorporating DEI into employee hiring and management; the same number are committed to pay equity through more compensation transparency. Seventy-one percent of HR professionals are taking at least one of the following approaches: offering bias and other DEI-related training (33%), ensuring that vendors and partners have a proven commitment to DEI (33%), making DEI guidelines and documents easily accessible to employees (30%), and getting help from an HR or DEI consultant to create a plan (28%).