Why HR should invest in tech to support emerging managers

Recent reports suggest that the “Great Resignation” may be ending, with some sectors even experiencing a reversal, referred to by analysts as the “Big Stay.” While these attention-grabbing labels attract interest, HR leaders need to understand the factors behind job stays and the role of tech in this phenomenon, experts say.

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According to ADP’s June 2023 National Employment Report, individuals who have remained in their jobs are witnessing more significant pay increases compared to the previous year, contrary to those who changed jobs seeking higher salaries. “The power dynamic is shifting back to the employer,” says Jon Greenawalt, SVP and GM of transform & services at performance management platform 15Five

Managers, particularly those new to their roles, are a crucial cohort in this equation. According to trends identified by Gartner, this year’s most highly effective organizations will embrace training aimed at mitigating a widening gap in managerial skills. The report states that low- and mid-level managers are the front line for employee interactions. This is uniquely true for hybrid employees—60% of them say their manager is their “most direct connection to company culture.”

Now that employees are there, keep them engaged

Erin Lazarus, the solutions architect at talent acquisition and management company SHL, sketches out the big picture. She says that workers are highly engaged during the earliest phases of their time with an organization—and most people will be in a role for a least a year or two before making a move. “So, while the Big Stay is partly reflective of market shifts, it’s also a byproduct of the fact that many employees are new in their role,” says Lazarus.

This includes managers, who may have been recently promoted into increased responsibilities. Greenawalt says that, even though voluntary quits have dropped in recent months, employers continue to reassess retention efforts, regardless of the jobs climate. “Companies are getting better at engagement,” he says.

Jon Greenawalt, 15Five
Jon Greenawalt, 15Five

According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace 2023 Report, engagement is indeed on the rise. How is this measured? Some metrics include employees feeling like someone at work cares, knowing what’s expected and having a manager who encourages their development.

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Greenawalt believes that new and emerging managers hold significant potential at this stage. With many relatively new employees and individuals transitioning into managerial roles, this group can have a profound impact on an organization. However, many companies overlook the importance of developing managers early in their tenure. “Companies tend to invest in senior leaders rather than emerging and front-line leaders,” he says.

Give managers tools for remote and hybrid employees

To effectively manage remote and hybrid employees, managers need the right tools. While many organizations and HR leaders are considering different return-to-work plans, simply getting employees in the same physical location as their managers is not enough. The reality is, in some organizations, this won’t happen. “The battle to return to the office will continue,” says Greenawalt.

Greenawalt says HR tech can serve managers by facilitating “accelerated human interaction,” enabling individuals to access growth tools and learning resources that align with their needs and preferences. With the incorporation of technology, conversations and training can be delivered more seamlessly, integrating with employees’ work processes, minimizing time requirements and helping them focus on goals.

Given the increasing role new managers are playing, as Greenawalt suggests, new managers should be considered as innovation centers, bringing fresh insights and sharing next-generation perspectives. Technology can give organizations a competitive advantage in developing their managers. When selecting which tools to prioritize, it’s essential to consider the unique needs of this leadership layer, which Greenawalt calls the “lynchpin” of performance management.

Drive engagement between employees and managers

The Gallup survey asked: “If you could make one change at your current employer to make it a great place to work, what would it be?” Forty-one percent of participants highlighted the importance of engagement and culture.

Suitable systems and software can provide a record of interactions between employees and managers. These can showcase instances of recognition, feedback, learning patterns and more. Business leaders are enabled by data that helps them understand how these investments are utilized. They can then implement interventions before a disconnect arises between managers and their teams.

Gallup’s analysis demonstrates that engagement has 3.8 times more influence on employee stress than the work environment itself. Greenawalt emphasizes that managers with the skills to lead from a distance will be crucial in fostering employee engagement and loyalty. “How individuals feel about their job is more related to their relationship with their team and manager than whether they are working remotely or on-site,” according to the workplace report.

If you’re concerned about investing in the right tech tools, you can gain insight into the highest-rated HR tech vendors when Stacey Harris, chief research officer at Sapient Insights Group, presents her research at this fall’s HR Technology Conference. Learn why HR leaders believe they are (or are not) receiving value from these critical business systems during her keynote presentation at HR Tech 2023. Grab your spot now.

Jill Barthhttps://hrexecutive.com/
Jill Barth is HR Tech Editor of Human Resource Executive. She is an award-winning journalist with bylines in Forbes, USA Today and other international publications. With a background in communications, media, B2B ecommerce and the workplace, she also served as a consultant with Gallagher Benefit Services for nearly a decade. Reach out at [email protected].