Human resources, a key element in any institution, has a far more significant role to play today apart from training employees, conducting interviews, explaining benefits, and managing relationships.
The role has progressed from a behind-the-scenes function to one that is actively involved in influencing an organization’s policies and goals.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit all organizations and industries with the same magnitude but the repercussions are varied. While some companies found it easy to transform digitally and revive their operations without a glitch, others are still having a tough time switching to the digital mode of working. This asymmetry has been a function of several factors including the digital capabilities of businesses and the management tactics being used to connect people digitally.
Remote working has become a part of the Covid-19 community, making the role of an HR professional more difficult.
Remote working has become a necessity, and HR departments now have new roles to deal with. They must create a common ground for all employees from various geographical and socioeconomic backgrounds, especially those who work in the interior areas. Now, more than ever, automation and versatile collaboration tools are needed.
Remote aid is also used in the medical sector. Because of the circumstances, health and safety has become a sensitive problem for all workers, and HR must ensure that everybody has access to all benefits. To ease employee issues, HR should share physical well-being measures, essential policies, or health support packages.
As a result of the crisis, Almost every company is being forced to immediately develop, adapt or improve remote work policies and procedures.
While HR professionals struggle to keep workers safe and updated, they should consider what changes are more permanent and how to direct employees and organizational leadership during the crisis.
New jobs for HR: Ensuring Employee Engagement and Retention
Remote workers can easily feel disconnected from office culture when working from home, so HR can work on improving employee engagement from a distance. You need to make sure they feel like they belong by reinforcing their connection to company values and one another.
You can’t automate company culture, but you can make it easier for employees to participate. Establish platforms for employees to connect with each other using online tools like Zoom for employee and team meetings, as well as chat apps like Slack. HR can be the driving force behind a company’s success.
When you show your team that you’re on their side and that the company wants to reduce their stress levels, not add to it, you’ll encourage employee loyalty for your remote workers. Think creatively about perks that will keep your team healthy and engaged at home.
To accommodate workers who work remotely, HR supervisors may need to change their positions as well. This will include a variety of topics, including employee engagement, talent management, and legal enforcement, all of which will be discussed further down.
Luckily, for most employers, the technology and communications infrastructure needed for successful remote work are available to employees. But HR needs to start now, collaborating closely with Finance, IT and other departments to develop and implement new rules. Among the questions that need to be addressed:
- How can managers adapt their current work rules, meeting agendas, and communication techniques to the new reality?
- Who will pay for remote workers’ connectivity and any required equipment, like printers, monitors, headset, etc.?
- If anyone leaves or is shot, how can you get them back?
- What changes should be made to job descriptions to accommodate part-time or full-time remote work?
- How will you monitor and enforce attendance?
- What HR functions must adapt talent acquisition and development, discipline, benefits and compensation all introduce their own challenges in a remote work environment.
And in the meantime, HR’s role in monitoring and maintaining morale becomes even more crucial.
It’s a good idea to establish a systematic procedure for checking in with remote workers to see how they’re coping with the added stress of the crisis and to stay on top of any problems that arise once things have returned to normal.
Are they in contact with their coworkers and their boss? Is there something they can do to help them remain productive? Are they aware of the services available for mental wellbeing and how to access them?
In the coming weeks, it will also become apparent which jobs cannot be done efficiently offsite. You’ll also need to start thinking about contingency plans and job policies for those.
A Challenge for HR: Nurturing culture gets more challenging in dispersed workplaces
Workers and business leaders tell researchers they believe a strong and well-defined organizational culture is critical to long-term success. It sets the organization’s identity, helps form its mission and gives employees at all levels a sense of identity and purpose in their work. But culture is also vulnerable in times of crisis when decisions are being made on the fly and financial survival takes priority over almost everything else.
Unfortunately, culture is also impossible to automate there is no technology solution that can preserve and enhance organizational culture. Employee engagement, constant communication and demonstrated commitment to your culture by leadership are the only tools that will work. And workers will detect lip service even when they’re working remotely and will remember it after the crisis passes.
It is hard to put culture at the top of HR’s priority list while you are putting out fires every day. But, if anything, culture is even more important now and can hold your organization together over the long term.
Remote work during COVID-19 Pandemic: Will it be a permanent feature for more organizations?
Things might never be the same again, but human beings can be the masters of change. Current situations call for thoughtful initiatives that help settle the chaos and resume work in the best possible manner. It’s high time to pay heed to learning and development for the digital times. Businesses stay in the same competitive world but the geographics have dismantled. Thus, judicious planning for workforce enhancement is imperative. The crisis might resolve soon but the lessons are to stay with us at our workplaces forever. This transformation of HR is to empower digital workplaces in the times ahead.
Many jobs that weren’t remote before are now and that’s not going to change any time soon. Companies are seeing the benefits of having employees work from home. And some employees love not having a commute or the distractions of the office.
And that is a good thing, because in addition to workers moving to remote temporarily as we weather this crisis, many will continue working remotely at least part of the time after businesses re-open their doors.
The future of HR
The HR department is at the heart of all employee-centric needs of any organization. HR professionals are the people-friendly ones, who know how to manage the workflow of the company by ensuring every single person is working seamlessly and the company’s policies are regularly updated.
Taking effective action requires leaders to conduct advanced planning and make strategic management decisions, all of which will rely heavily on the advice and insight only HR can provide.
The function has gradually evolved from its behind-the-scenes role and is actively involved in shaping an organization’s policies and objectives.
Covid-19 has made remote working a part of the work culture, which makes the job of an HR professional more challenging.
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