HR leaders have been forced and inspired to think about the roles their human resources function plays in the organization due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many companies shifted to a remote work model in early 2020. In-person teamwork moved to methods of online collaboration. For most employees, the actual process of working from home was an area that they were not familiar with. But even after a year, these changes have led to the workplace continually evolving in response to Covid-19.
Right from the start, HR managers have been at the forefront of these changes induced by the pandemic. They had to contend with the new requirements of health and safety, ensure that, in the new normal, their managers were adequately supported, in some cases having to deal with reducing headcount and still keep up with any administration processes that were required.
A technology adviser, speaking to the Society for Human Resources said that the two most important departments for the survival of a company are its HR and IT departments. Executives require to make sure that those who work at home remotely, have the technology as well as support, that is required for doing the job. HR Talent also recommends that remote workers are productive and remain fully engaged and that any sensitive HR data remains safe in these home working environments.
Looking ahead, organizations and HR teams have to give importance to taking stock of the changes that have come about, how they can affect the future of a business, and whether the role of HR needs to be reinvented. There have been many repercussions as a result of Covid-19, such as very high health risks, high unemployment, businesses closing down, and divisions in society, but as per Josh Bersin, an HR analyst, HR can also look at some positive outcomes.
Writing in HR Executive, Bersin says that the teams in HR are finding new ways to work, setting up new models for the jobs, finding new ways to learn, and newer ways of paying, rewarding, and incentivizing people.
We now look at the six important changes in 2021, that need to be made the best of.
- Workplace health and safety have new requirements that need to be reinforced
- Finding and putting in place new approaches to time off
- Maximize efficiency by integrating systems
- Boost employee engagement by capitalizing on technology
- Initiatives in diversity, inclusion, and equity must be expanded
- Accept that remote work will be prevalent
Organizational changes were required on a big scale as a result of the pandemic. Employees and leaders were both traumatized and impacted as they had to make adjustments. It, however, will benefit HR to learn from this and use this learning to help and transform the evolution of the workplace in ways that are innovative.
Workplace Health and Safety Requirements Need to be Reinforced
HR leaders now have the task of keeping up to date on the guidelines for health and safety so that they can set policies and procedures that meet the new requirements. There has been a constant barrage of updates on Covid-19 on the national and local news that employees can find overwhelming. Employees must instead rely on their HR department as a primary source of the latest and most accurate information on the Covid-19 pandemic.
It can be quite challenging for HR teams to ensure that businesses get the right information, but they also need to inform employees as well. Some companies are planning for employees to return to the workplace, which makes some of them nervous and hesitant to do so. A research survey by KRC conducted recently, said that almost half of American employees are afraid of returning to work before it is safe to do so.
With a constantly changing physical environment, organizations depend on their HR department to ensure that the concerns of their employees with regard to health, wellbeing, and safety are adequately addressed. Senior VP ad CHRO of Ingredion, Elizabeth Adefioye, says that since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, she has been coordinating with the CEO and key executives from the departments of finance, technology, communications, and facilities to come up with a global approach to a “return to workplace” policy that is safe.