HR has always been the front liner for employees & the HR’s role in monitoring & maintaining has become even more critical. Traditional HR is being replaced with a holistic approach using advanced technologies and being human centric as well. HR professionals are faced with the challenges of redefining their strategies on leadership, talent, diversity while evaluating their operational effectiveness. The world confronts multiple crises and COVID-19 being the biggest one currently which has hit the whole world & its economy.
In this dynamic environment some of the major challenges currently faced by HR professionals are:
- Business continuity: New hirings have been put on hold plus the layoffs as well have been initiated to limit the resource cost. Many industries like food, IT & transport have already started laying off employees. Companies such as Uber, Swiggy, Zomato, and IBM have laid off a large number of employees with many others having to take a cut in salary.
- Dispersed workplace: Work from home is the new mantra for employees; hence making sure the employees have an adequate system and internet connection to work plus keep a track on their work via different digital applications.
- Focus on physical & mental health and wellbeing of employees: The external environment & odd timing business calls and no engagement in person has impacted the health of employees mentally & physically both. Hence putting in place a medical support system and hiring psychiatrists for their mental wellbeing.
- Critical talent acquisitions: Due to salary cuts and no appraisals in some organizations, it is getting difficult to acquire the existing talent for long.
- Virtual Employee engagement: All the connects/meetings/conferences/activities etc. are being conducted virtually than in person which is new to HR & employees both.
- Redefining policies: For the benefit and support for employees’ certain policies are being redefined which has increased the cost to companies like reimbursement of internet and telephone bills, advance amount is given to buy essentials.
- Increase in talent cost: Due to lockdown and uncertainty, bench resources are being absorbed for long
- Impact on communication: As everyone is communicating via technology like video calls/skype/google teams etc. there is a communication gap amongst employees as it was easier to understand things when in person plus connectivity issues leads to delay. As HR professionals struggle to keep employees safe and informed, it helps to think about what changes will be more permanent and how they can guide employees and the leadership through those changes. These challenges are hence a pathway to opportunities like:
- Integrating Artificial intelligence: For many, automation has already been a big leap from traditional practices. Due to this pandemic, the need for Artificial Intelligence is in demand hence giving a golden opportunity for HR to show some innovative practices.
- Increase in productivity of employees: According to a Gallup research, it shows that people have been more productive when working from remote locations as it saves their commute time, cost and they feel healthier as work from home environment is more conducive for them.
- Increase in employee welfare policies & practices: Many organizations like Infosys, HCL technologies have introduced the policy of reimbursement of data card & mobile bills, free meals are given to employees in most companies. Amongst other policies a cap of Rs. 15,000 is given to employees working in Fidelity, 6 months advance bonus is given to employees working in Asian Paints. In tough times, the Govt has also launched certain policies like EPF withdrawal, employer PF to employee etc. We have seen a lot of companies go beyond the call off duty such as many recruitment specialists are offering free help to people by updating their resume so that they can be better prepared for upcoming opportunities in such unprecedented time.
- Leads to more business collaborations & recruitment: There are tie ups and new collaborations which big giants like HCL has done recently with Google Cloud in order to expand partnership and digitally transform commerce. Companies like Amazon are hiring employees on an hourly basis.
The time is uncertain but as quoted by Devdutt Pattanayak in one of the talk shows in People Matters “HR is the Krishna of this time”. Just as how Krishna guided Arjuna and helped him win the battle, similarly HR will never let an organization and its employees alone; hence it will convert challenges into opportunities. Belief is the indeed the biggest weapon in any tough scenario and it will take every one of us to come together as a unit to come out of this victorious.