We’re almost two years into the coronavirus pandemic and in the middle of a recruiting environment unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. For these reasons, the future of managing people can feel daunting — if not terrifying.

The truth is that dispersed workforces have increased the pressure on companies to take on more people-oriented tasks without additional resources. Against the backdrop of The Great Resignation, the strain to train, develop and support people has never been greater. Many organizations turn to human resources (HR) to help with these functions, but that can be challenging with a small department.

Here are the top three things that are keeping HR professionals up at night, as well as some ways leadership can support HR that leads to better training, growth and care for employees:

1. Preparing for the Next Big Crisis

The pandemic has made agility and flexibility in an uncertain world a top priority — both personally and professionally. Training leaders have become conditioned to think “when, not if” when it comes to crisis situations. And the nagging feeling of “what if” creates a deep need for planning and preparation.

In response to the current crisis — and in preparation for new ones — companies are acknowledging that adaptability is key to the survival of every business. Whether it’s decentralizing offices, upskilling employees or some other strategy, organizations are realizing that those who cling to the status quo simply cannot thrive in the current environment.

But planning for the next crisis and developing new agile procedures places increased pressure on HR — and by extension on teams and managers in charge of training and development. Plus, while the demands have increased, the resources available to take on these new responsibilities haven’t increased at a similar rate — or at all. To navigate this challenging landscape, companies must find new ways to build flexibility into their work structures.

The best way is to find a software solution that can be customized to your needs, with a particular emphasis on automating time-consuming manual people management tasks. For instance, setting up a self-service portal for paid time off (PTO) requests and automating document management will cut down on employees pinging HR and instead empower them to handle these requests autonomously. Doing so will allow your HR team and frontline managers to reserve more time for work that builds a happier, more productive team, as well as develop the processes that will prepare you for the next major crisis.

2. Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

Small- to midsize organizations face a tough reality: There are lots of work opportunities, and there is fierce competition for talent. Employees are leaving jobs at a record rate when better opportunities come along, and it’s difficult to replace them.

By now, we’ve all heard about The Great Resignation, but just because increased turnover is becoming the norm, that doesn’t mean your company has to fall victim to it. A proactive approach can make a big difference when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Prioritize Work-life Balance and Self-care

With more people working remotely, it’s easy to blur the lines between professional and home life, which can result in being overworked. But even if your living room is also your office, it’s important to emphasize self-care. These kinds of challenges are not solely the responsibility of HR. You can use automation to create a workflow in your organization’s software solution to initiate a wellness program.

For example, using work technology, employees can track steps and log tasks like drinking water and exercising, all in the flow of work, wherever work takes place. The bonus of a virtual wellness challenge is that it can boost morale and build culture — another difficult task that HR and people managers face with a dispersed workforce — all while prioritizing employee well-being.

Find the Right Work Software

A flexible HR software solution that is designed to meet your organization’s unique needs can be a game-changer. Easy access to pay stubs, digital onboarding materials and other important HR documents is critical to all employees.

With the right HR software, employees can access these kinds of materials seamlessly in the flow of work, which increases efficiency and decreases frustration for everyone in your organization. Plus, some software solutions even offer on-demand training to help HR teams navigate new responsibilities along with the increasingly complex nature of their work.

3. Balancing Paperwork with People

There is a common misconception that relying more on technology makes interactions more impersonal. But with the right HR, work or learning and development (L&D) technologies, you don’t have to sacrifice the personal touch. Automation not only frees up your time to have more “human” moments, but it can also support those moments when used correctly. For instance: You can set a reminder to put a one-on-one meeting on the calendar, send your coworker a friendly message or give a gift.

Technology can also help build a healthy company culture and ultimately increase employee satisfaction and engagement — all within your existing workflow. For example, you could build community and connection by encouraging employees to visit a local business. A flexible software system can set up reimbursements for those visits, saving your HR team and people managers time and energy, all while providing a meaningful employee experience. With the right HR software solution, there’s no need to sacrifice the personal touch or the efficiency that comes with automation.

HR’s Growing Footprint

The role of HR continues to expand, placing additional pressure on smaller teams. Today, HR and people managers are asked to spearhead new initiatives that help improve employee engagement, encourage wellness and ensure engagement — all while recruiting, hiring and handling employee benefits. It’s no wonder they’re frightened.

But the challenges associated with the future of work can be overcome with help from the right software solution — one that leverages the power of automation and makes L&D easier to access. With work technology, people managers can meet the future with confidence.