The pandemic outbreak has wreaked havoc on practically every facet of life, and our professional lives/workplaces are no exception. It has forced us to reconsider how we conduct business, communicate with others, and work. The new world order presents many challenges for organizations, including the need for a quick and practical shift in workforce metrics to cut costs and boost growth during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The most important implication of the new normal is for HR, who is the heart of an organization and critical to a company's operational efficiencies. HR's role has expanded dramatically in recent months, from developing remote working regulations and ensuring smooth workflows to designing return-to-work programs and new safety standards. As a result, the new normal requires HR to implement new workforce metrics. So, how can HR ensure that organizations transition smoothly to the new normal?
Focus on building a robust hybrid work environment
The remote work trend imposed on employees because of the pandemic has now become the norm. According to the findings, 82% of respondents prefer working from home rather than from the office. However, total remote employment can weaken business culture and make it challenging to maintain client relationships. Many organizations have shifted to a hybrid workspace. However, establishing a hybrid work environment is not an overnight process. It comes with a slew of obstacles, such as convincing employees to return to work, maintaining consistent and transparent communication, managing and keeping a constant work-life balance, and so on.
Hence, HR must design better policies and strategies to make the hybrid ecosystem more productive, robust, and secure to achieve better results. And it involves addressing employees' concerns about remote work and hybrid work while pushing them to be as productive by leveraging technology/tools like MS Teams or Slack to improve communication and cooperation. This will improve internal communication and keep the employees connected whether they are in the office or working remotely. Companies should invest in such tools/software to have a continuous flow of communication.
Ensuring the well-being of employees
The most visible consequence of the pandemic has been the toll it’s taken on employees’ mental health. Employee well-being has taken center stage during the lockdown and will continue to do so in the future. Hence, it is time for HR to step in and work with the management to ensure the well-being of employees. HR can achieve this remotely through friendly conversation sessions, team bonding activities, interest club encouragement, and so on. An engaged and happy employee is naturally a more productive employee.
Create a planned and structured approach for gig workers
Gig working has evolved from a side business to a primary source of income, and millions of people worldwide have accepted it as a lifestyle option. The gig economy gives organizations more flexibility, reduced fixed costs, and the ability to react to market changes more quickly. Hence observing the benefits, industries are embracing gig workers to assure quick turnarounds, increased productivity, cost savings, and rapid scaling.
To deal with this transformation in the future, HR teams will need to create a more planned and structured approach that defines job responsibilities and criticality and provides a clear understanding of the occupations. It will lead to a more flexible and productive workforce.
Focus on reskilling and upskilling
With the digital disruption induced by the pandemic, it is far more crucial than ever to provide employees with the tools to learn the skills they need, rather than merely bringing in top talent from outside the company to fill up the gaps. Considering the investment and the time lost in hiring from outside and bringing them to scale, training or upskilling existing employees may be a more cost-effective solution. Not only are you showing you value your people, but you minimize the risk of potential turnover as well.
As a result, HR needs to focus on reskilling the employees and upskilling the entire team to assist them in becoming more effective and productive in today’s hyper-digital workplaces. They must concentrate on fostering a culture of continuous learning in their teams to keep them competitive and enable them to climb the corporate ladder in a more meaningful and gratifying way.
Personalized rewards to boost retention
Recognizing an employee's work and effort is critical since it stimulates them and increases employee engagement. However, with pandemics, employees' perceptions of recognition and rewards have been altered. Nowadays, employees seek meaningful benefits like healthcare, paid time off, parental leave, and assistance for mental health services, rather than tangible workplace amenities such as free snacks or free coupons. So the HR team must focus on personalized rewards, as it might assist them in increasing employee retention. A well-rounded benefits package can also help companies stand out from the crowd when it comes to acquiring and retaining the creme-de-la-creme of talent they need.
Challenges come with an opportunity. The adage is appropriate for the pandemic; the new normal presents a bevy of challenges, but it also opens the door to seizing possibilities and writing a unique success story. So, the time is ripe for HRs to take the lead in shaping a brighter future for businesses by rethinking traditional work practices and developing more personalized, meaningful ways of keeping top talent while also embracing AI and contractual gig workers.