These are unprecedented times, trying times and unchartered territory for all of us. COVID-19 has taken the world by storm and brought forth a new norm as to how organizations manage the business. Organizations around the world are facing a unique challenge, which is to ensure the safety & wellbeing of the employees, both physically and psychologically, as they are invaluable assets. Irrespective of the case, organizations are going out of their ways and doing their best to ensure seamless business continuity and consistently improve productivity even during these extraordinary circumstances.
At this juncture, we need to observe the two major key fallouts of COVID-19: digital transformation and new work style. COVID-19 has made digitalization more hard pressing and an urgent need than ever before. Organizations need to understand what their needs are and to what extent they can go digital. For humanitarian organizations, where human touch is the key, we cannot completely go virtual. We have lives at our hands to shape and we do it with the touch of heart. Certain elements can never be replaced by technologies. But it is important to see technology as a means to fulfil our mission and not an end in itself. Apart from inducing panic and uncertainty amidst the general population, the pandemic has also significantly disrupted the way business works. New norms about working from home are changing the way employees and managers interact – which, for many, is a source of potential concern about what ‘business as usual’ will look like in the future.
However, major humanitarian organizations, which have already introduced flexi work hours, work from home, and work from anywhere policies for its employees much earlier were able to adjust to this culture- way ahead of COVID-19 crisis. It has really helped them when COVID-19 hit the business to make sudden changes. They were able to leverage the learnings from programs and continue to learn as all its employees presently work from their respective home, either in cities or in villages. Remote working cannot be implemented over night, this needs proper planning, systemic and cultural support.
At times like this, keeping employee morale up through regular motivation and recognition is more important than ever and virtual communication is ideally suited for that. Managers should stress the fact that working from home gives employees additional accountability and that the company trusts them to make the best use of that accountability. This is also an excellent opportunity to encourage upskilling through online learning platforms. Moreover, personal messages and calls acknowledging the difficulties that each employee may be going through go a long way in improving their sense of self-worth as valued team members.
Today, HR is no longer working behind closed doors and is a crucial part of driving the organizations’ success. During these unprecedented times, the role of HR leaders becomes all the more important and they are expected to respond quickly and comprehensively, considering immediate, short-term, and long-term consequences of this crisis. A key role of HR will be to keep the workforce engaged, involved, and committed to the success of the enterprise. Particularly in challenging times like these, HR needs to double its efforts in making sure every employee appreciates the challenge, participates voluntarily without any fear, and stays motivated. At the same time, HR should make sure all required assistance or measures are taken to ensure employee healthcare, well-being, and provide ways to a new workspace of remote working.
COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented crisis that is testing professional and personal relations around the world. It is the responsibility of each member of each organization to put in their utmost and maintain smooth business relations. While certain concerns may initially slow down progress, steady and positive communication from all parties will help maintain everyone’s morale and keep employee relations intact as the world moves through this challenge.
It is rightly said - the future of HR is here, and it is now! Change is the only constant: organizations that will adapt according to change will survive, and the rest will be history!