COVID-19 has thrown a curveball at humanity, disrupting almost all walks of life. In organizations, HR teams have been at the frontline, quickly providing employees with the organization’s response to the pandemic. While rolling out new guidelines for working and providing infrastructural and social support, they have endeavored to keep employee spirits and productivity levels high during the lockdown.
They will now need to look ahead and make changes to policies, structures, and practices to align with the new way of working. The development and implementation of these changes call for collaboration and working closely with all the stakeholders in the organization. However, their challenges are far from over, as the ‘new’ normal way of working throws up several questions that need the answer before they begin planning.
Challenges emerging from the ‘new’ normal
HR teams have more than a handful of challenges to tackle, with most of the staff having to work remotely. Such as that of having a robust attendance model. They will need to set new guidelines and change policies if needed. Revised job descriptions will need to be framed to accommodate part-time, full-time, and remote working definitions. New methods will be required to monitor the productivity of employees working remotely. The performance management system may need a complete overhaul, with new targets, expectations, and rewards. The revised policies and guidelines should incorporate the process of resource availability and utilization for their employees to be able to work remotely. HR managers will also need to brainstorm and have innovative ideas to keep the organization culture highly spirited – both for existing employees as well as for new incumbents.
As HR teams look to the future, they will realize that a lot many practices will change, redefining their roles.
Remote working becomes the new norm
A Gartner analysis predicts that 48% of employees are likely to work remotely, at least part of the time post-COVID-19. A growing number of industry leaders hold the opinion that the remote working culture is here to stay, and this figure can be higher for organizations that are looking at reducing investments in real estate to offset losses incurred during the lockdown. This would necessitate digitalization and higher adoption of technology and resizing and transforming brick and mortar workplaces into technology-enabled virtual ones. A significant benefit arising from this model is that managers will now be able to find the most suitable candidate after receiving a higher number of job applications from all over the country – since recruitment would become location agnostic.
Resurgence of the gig economy
Utilizing contingent workers provides employers with greater flexibility concerning workforce management. A Gartner survey reveals that 32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contract workers intending to save costs. Having said that, HR managers that intend to fill vacant positions with contractual staff will also need to deal with challenges concerning the applicability of workplace laws upon the staff.
Emphasis on employee social safety
Post COVID-19, organizations will continue their focus on employee safety and their emotional well-being. HR teams will expand their involvement in the lives of employees and ensure enhanced people connect.
Shift in focus – from efficiency to resilience
Traditionally, organizations have sharpened their focus on employee efficiency, but in the post-COVID-19 world, it’s resilience that will take precedence. Keeping in mind the growing remote working culture and the possibility of future outbreaks of infections, recruiters will look at a job applicant’s digital dexterity and digital collaboration skills at the time of hiring.
Identify digital tools to impart training for employees - managers, mentors, and trainers. Specifically, revolving around the concept of working remotely. These programs will help them manage stress, build a positive outlook, and stay productive under the remote working model.
Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The post-pandemic world will see an increased application of artificial intelligence (AI) in the HR function. AI will help recruiters find promising candidates from megabytes of job applications, and help organizations not only reach their diversity goals in the hiring process, but also retain top talent, and engage with employees through smart applications.
Exciting times lie ahead, albeit with a host of challenges. For HR managers, this is a time for them to play a defining role in shaping the future of organizations. To sum up, People, Policies, and Processes will be the three broad pillars on which they can build a new foundation for HR excellence.