Businesses across the globe wouldn’t have coped as well with the pandemic without the help of their trusted HR department.
Human Resources has been a frontliner; helping businesses navigate the tricky waters of remote working, employee retention, and payroll while everything else has been less than certain.
Whatever industry you’ve worked in during the past year, there’s been a desperate need to adapt and develop in record time. And with all the change, HR have had the difficult task of keeping all employees up to date, safe, and informed.
Now that the world is returning to some level of normality, businesses have a lot of future-proofing decisions to make, and the role of human resources has inevitably changed forever.
Here are five ways the COVID-19 crisis has changed the role of HR and what this means for the future of the department.
Cross-department collaboration will be integral for remote work
Over the past year, most businesses have been required to allow their staff to work remotely in order to keep them safe. However, while this originally seemed like a temporary solution, plenty of businesses are finding that there is an abundance of benefits to a remote workforce.
For administrative departments like finance, IT, and HR, however, having a remote workforce can make day-to-day tasks a little more difficult.
As such, the new face of business in the post-pandemic world will require more cross-department collaboration to ensure everyone is on the same page in terms of compliancy, tech infrastructure needed to do their work, and support for staff.
Human resource management teams will need to work to translate workplace etiquette and rules into something that works for the now-remote team. Questions like who will pay for all the additional tech required for staff to work from home, how you enforce attendance, how the recruitment process works, etc., will need to be answered.
Departments like HR will also be on the forefront of keeping employees connected and maintaining morale in all the uncertainty.
HR will also need to work with team managers to regularly check in with all employees like they would in the physical office. Some employees will need additional support with adapting to the work from home life, and emotional health resources should be available.
You’ll also need contingency plans in place if it becomes clear that certain jobs cannot be don’t effectively at home.
Maintaining organizational culture will be more challenging
Establishing an organizational culture can take years, but most businesses believe this is the key to long-term success and employee retention.
Like a brand identity, an organization’s culture helps to bring everything back to the original mission – giving employees a sense of purpose in their daily work.
In the uncertainty of the pandemic, many business leaders have needed to make rash decisions in order to keep their company from drowning. Not all of these decisions will be liked by the workforce, meaning the culture of the workplace has been at risk.
While putting out the never-ending fires that COVID has caused for your business, you’ll need to attempt to nurture organizational culture. In fact, it’s probably more important to do so in periods of change and crisis than at any other time.
There’s no way to automate the process of nurturing, meaning HR departments need to ensure employee engagement and communication are maintained as best they can.
Recruitment and retention remain key
If your business has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, there will inevitably have been some financial strain, lay-offs, and a hiring freeze.
Now, it’s time to get back to business and recruit the best replacements, offer old employees back their roles (if they’re still needed), and focus on retaining the staff you have.
One element of retention will revolve around how well staff have been treated throughout this difficult year. And it’s these committed staff that should take priority.
That said, recruiting the right talent for new opportunities could benefit from the pandemic: With remote working established, the recruitment pool expands ten-fold with people from miles away able to offer their expertise for the perfect role. As there are so many people who have been unfortunate enough to lose their jobs during COVID, there will be a lot of applicants for each job – all of which will need to be processed and acknowledged.
HR will play an integral role in remote employee engagement
As mentioned above, employee engagement is key to organizational culture but much harder to maintain with a remote workforce.
HR already plays an integral role in keeping employees engaged and enthused; however, this responsibility will become more prominent as we head into the future.
Research by Gallup shows that highly engaged teams tend to stay put, produce better outcomes and provide a much better level of customer service to clients and prospective clients. All of this means the business can save and make more money.
Engaged employees also seem to suffer less with burnout too.
But how do you keep staff engaged remotely?
The first step is to adjust any work perks already in place. Telehealth or mental health consultations for remote workers may be a great way to keep staff feeling safe, appreciated, and supported in their current roles.
Not everyone has a family to go home to after a long day, meaning some remote workers may struggle with loneliness and the isolation of working away from the office. Mental health consultations will help keep them afloat while also making managers more aware of the staff that need additional support.
Compliance with employment law
Remote working is still relatively new. Meaning not all HR teams will know the ins and outs of employment law for remote working.
As such, HR departments may experience a steep learning curve to ensure all their offsite and onsite staff are compliant with any new laws that come through congress.
There are still many things that have been left uncertain from the pandemic. However, as we return to normality, there is plenty for different departments to work on to make the future brighter than ever.
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