Article: The essential role of human resources amidst COVID-19

Employee Relations

The essential role of human resources amidst COVID-19

To say that over the last year HR leaders have been busy reimagining their role and its impact on business sustainability, would be a huge understatement.
The essential role of human resources amidst COVID-19

With the global pandemic’s impact on every business function of an organization, HR teams have played a critical role in adapting the workforce and supporting business strategies to the unprecedented changes induced by the pandemic., As the pandemic struck, the primary aim of HR leaders was to keep employees safe while creating an empathetic and engaging environment for all. Many companies have realised that it is time to come up with a forward-thinking HR strategy, one which allows them to rethink, reimagine and reconsider fostering talent. Today, HR functions have become a mainstay in helping employees transition to the new reality of remote working while ensuring business sustainability. Here are three things HR leaders need to consider creating a resilient workforce in today’s post-pandemic world:

Focus on well-being:

COVID-19 brought on significant challenges for employees, testing their physical, mental and even financial well-being. Further, the new ways of remote working have blurred boundaries between work and personal life. Digital isolation has further added pressure on high performing individuals, taking a toll on mental health. At such times, it is imperative for HR leaders and organisations to recognize the importance of the holistic wellbeing of employees to create a satisfied, motivated, and agile workforce..

Shaping workforce with the right talent:

During the early days of the pandemic, sudden shifts in consumer demand caused temporary hiring spikes in sectors such as FMCG, grocery etc. while also leading to layoffs across certain industries. This was a situation that no one had anticipated or experienced before. Hence, we believe it created a panic across organisations and industries. In such situations, undoing hasty decisions defines the credibility of an efficient HR leader. Many businesses like us have seen a surge in business and that can only be complemented with hiring spikes. Internet-first businesses such as ours have been leveraging digital platforms to enable hiring, including online assessments, remote onboarding and building and aligning on SLA’s that enable remote working. Further, brands across industries have expanded their teams and revised their structures to fit in employees, across levels. HR leaders need to take a fresh look at the hiring strategy, making it easier to connect the right people to the right jobs based on a deep understanding of their skills and needs of the organization. 

Tailoring employee experience amidst remote working

In the pandemic’s wake, each one of us has been pushed to think beyond frameworks and the cadence we have been accustomed to. For the first time, organisations have realized that building employee engagement does not necessarily happen at the physical workplace. With distorting boundaries between work and life while working remotely, employee experience has taken a whole new meaning. In the absence of coffee/break room chats and in-person gatherings, one way to sustain an engaging experience for employees is to tailor it to segments of people and then towards individuals. This also applies to hybrid work models with some employees back in the office, especially for organisations like us who fall in a business where customer face time is important to ensure business sustainability while ensuring all safety norms are diligently adhered to. 

In times like today, where the goal is boosting employee morale, organisations are looking at aligning individual/team goals to organisational goals. We all know that great companies always enable their employees to find purpose in their work experience. When individuals work in productive and engaging teams, it motivates them to exceed expectations and HR professionals are undertaking multiple initiatives. Due to the reduced ‘in-person’ interactions, digital collaboration tools have risen. The pandemic has enabled organisations to drive work more effectively by using these tools, thus helping in improved overall employee experience while working remotely. Companies are re-examining their existing inventory of collaboration tools, based on which new tools are added to the suite. 

In the coming decade, a human resource professional will have the opportunity to reinvent work and drive differentiated value for the company. In this expanded role, HR will become a vital enabler of an organization’s ability to thrive in an ever-evolving world. This holds for businesses irrespective of their size or operations, be it large enterprises or emerging startups. The universe of comparison being equal, companies will need to be comparable on the practices they adopt during this time. And to ensure we do right by employees, brands like us didn't want to stop short of anything. Hence, with the ‘Employee First’ mindset developed by multiple HR initiatives, all businesses can strive for a better future!

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Topics: Employee Relations, #COVID-19, #GuestArticle

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