The HR community has undergone multiple evolutions over the past few decades and 2020 came with another change. The COVID-19 pandemic that hit the globe impacted our lives in myriad ways and our workplaces were also not devoid of it. Both business and HR had to find ways to navigate through this crisis and it undoubtedly changed the way we work, communicate, and learn. HR has been at the forefront driving these transformations in organizations. As I look back, some of the key takeaways for HR leaders from the year shall be below:
Spotlight on mental well-being
Employee well-being has been a focus area for organizations since sometime now but year 2020 has made HR professionals relook at their employee well-being plans with a deeper focus on mental well-being. The current crisis brought with itself ambiguity and uncertainty which led to increased stress and anxiety among people. Fear of job loss & pay cuts; coupled with new way of working remotely has only added to this stress. If not addressed, organizations face an increasing challenge of dealing with employees who are stressed or depressed at work which may also affect their productivity. Hence, mental wellness should top the employee well-being agenda of every HR professional and organization
Year 2020 has been the year of technology. Right from small business enterprises to large business conglomerates, remote working forced everyone to become adept in technology. Remote working has thrown another challenge at HR of engaging a virtual workforce. Hence, it’s the right time for HR to take the plunge and move towards automation and digitization. Right from onboarding to performance management to exit, there are several HR processes which can be automated. In fact, many organizations are going a step further and leveraging Artificial Intelligence too. AI chat bots is the new-age technology that provides human-like interface and helps gather feedback on people experiences and engagement levels. By using massive amounts of data and machine learning, AI can help HR enhance decision making. It’s time HR off-loads mundane tasks and invests time in more meaningful business partnering.
Skilling is the key
According to a recent PwC study, 55% employers feel that existing skill gap in organizations is an impediment to innovation. Year 2020 has made this issue even more pertinent as organizations struggled in absence of a skilled workforce that was ready to face a crisis. Due to the pandemic, some roles became redundant while demand for new roles increased and HR had to find ways to make the best use of existing talent pool by moving them cross functionally. In future also, employees would be expected to wear multiple hats at work. In fact, today’s millennials also want to know ‘what’s in it for me’ (WIFIM) when they join an organization. Hence, HR should work towards fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and cross-functional skill sets and ensure people are up-skilled and res-skilled from time to time to succeed in a dynamic environment
Make values your guiding star
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit us, people across organizations were looking up to the management and HR for trust, compassion, and hope. It was important to communicate to people the vision & mission of the organization and how the company values have been the guiding force behind the tough choices made. Reinforcing organization values through open and transparent communication can aid in keeping the workforce motivated and engaged. I strongly believe that values are the bedrock of an organization’s culture and in today’s time culture can be a true source of competitive advantage. Crisis or no crisis, HR needs to ensure that people celebrate and live by the organization values because customers and employees prize decisions which are driven by values
Be open to change
Year 2020 was definitely a watershed moment all of us and despite the challenges that we had to face, one of the positive changes that it has brought is a change in mindset. Often, we are rigid and hesitant when it comes to change but the current pandemic made us relook at our organization structures, people practices, polices, vision, etc. as it jolted us out of our comfort zone and made us realize that what was working earlier may not work now. Today, we are more receptive and willing to go beyond the established norms which is a great thing because it’s important for us to detach ourselves from the past and look into the future with a fresh lens
I feel the coming year shall see a renewed focus on employee productivity and well-being, with a single goal of helping business succeed. Engaging employees and sustaining workplace culture in a post COVID world shall be a challenging game and thus HR shall be required to reinvigorate their performance & rewards strategies as long term goals may not be sustainable.
The Future of HR in as I see, shall be a hybrid model of high-care and high-tech built on the foundation of strong value system.