The department that is working on the front line for responding to COVID-19 in times of crisis is Human Resources. COVID-19 is forcing each business to design, develop, and improve their policies and procedures for remote working.
An HR professional must ensure the safety and security of employees. Thus, it is important to understand what permanent changes this pandemic will impose on the organizational structure. Moreover, we need to ask what actions HR professionals will take to tackle those permanent changes and guide organizational leaders and employees, accordingly?
Below are some of the effects that you'll be experiencing until working returns to how it was before the pandemic.
Remote working is a significant solution for organizations to perform optimally. Also, it’s a good thing as many of the workers shifting towards remote working will continue to do so, until businesses reopen for in-office work.
Fortunately, the communication infrastructure and technological requirements for remote working are readily available to most employees.
On the contrary, it’s time for HR professionals to work closely with other departments such as IT and finance to implement new facilitative rules. The questions that require immediate attention include;
- How will the managers transform the current rules of working, meeting schedules, and strategies of communication according to the SOPs of COVID-19?
- Who will be responsible for the payment of employee’s remote gadgets and machines they need to work?
- If the expenses are paid by the company, then how will the company recover those gadgets and machine after someone quits?
- How will the job description be modified to compensate for full or part-time remote working?
- How will HR monitor employees' attendance?
- What qualities do HR professionals need to possess to handle and introduce new policies for the challenging remote work setting?
Meanwhile, the role of HR in maintaining and monitoring the morale and performance of employee’s has become more vital. It is a crucial step to ask employees through a formal procedure about how they are dealing with the increased stress of the pandemic.
For example, a survey can be delivered asking questions such as: 'are they experiencing any difficulties in communication with their colleagues and manager?', 'Do they require anything that can assist them in boosting their productivity?', 'Are they familiar with the mental health support offered and how to get it?'.
As time goes by, it becomes more clear what jobs cannot be performed efficiently in a remote environment. The HR professionals will also be required to provide a satisfactory response to these issues as well.
Organization’s Cultural Diversity
Due to the pandemic, the culture of employee development and nourishment is also getting tough due to isolated work environments. Previous research shows that business leaders believe a well-developed culture in an organization is essential for the optimal performance of a business.
The organizational culture is the main element of an organizational identity, it assists in reaching organizational goals, and it provides employees with a purpose. Nonetheless, organizational culture is very important in any crisis where financial security and survival are the priorities.
Unfortunately, in present times culture is something that cannot be automated; there is no technological approach which can sustain or improve an organization's culture. The only tools that will come in handy in times of crisis are constant communication with employees, employee engagement, and commitment to an organizational culture through effective leadership.
The result of which will come in the form of employees remembering the organization's commitment after the pandemic is over. It is not easy to make efforts to preserve or improve culture in times of crisis. But, culture is among the critical factors that are essential for ensuring the long-term success of an organization.
The acquisition and retention of talent becoming a troublesome factor
Due to the adverse effects of COVID-19 on economic conditions, companies are quickly decreasing their workforce and discontinuing hiring.
As a result, companies will rely more on contractors and temporary workers when coming out of this pandemic. On the contrary, the reputation of the companies laying off workers will be harmed in the eyes of the employees that organizations want to retain for the long term.
This means that organizations will need to hire multiple contractors in the short-term instead of employees for the long-term. Thus, during times of uncertainty, it’s a helpful idea to remind everyone about your talent. Also, it's important to be active and maintain communication with hiring personnel.
Employees engagement in remote working environments
The quality which is often termed as a superpower of an HR professional is keeping employees enthused, engaged, and productive. According to research, employees who believe that their organization prioritizes their mental and physical wellbeing are more engaged at work.
This engagement is a factor that transforms into real economic growth for the organization. Gallup researched for two decades and came up with the following results about highly engaged teams, that they;
- Bring sustainable and effective results and outcomes
- Provide better customer interaction and attract new customers
- Work long-term for the organization rather than short-term.
Gallup reports that engaged employees are also healthy and are less prone to burnouts. Moreover, an organization can demonstrate to workers that they care for their mental and physical health by improving and adjusting their benefits.
A progressive step in this regard is to decrease or eradicate co-pays for health check-ups. Also, with the stress of finance on the shoulders of employee’s, it’s a perfect time to offer different options such as daily pay, free access to webinars, and subsidized loans.
Residence and agreements
As the number of people working in a remote environment is increasing day by day, employees are facing issues regarding new policies and employment law concerns.
Troublesome issues of agreement include:
- The FMLA requirements, policies for leaves, and the arrangements of teleworking for employees' protection
- Permitted actions on employers under FMLA, ADA, and other state or federal regulations.
The HR professionals will be required to keep track of all the new laws coming from Congress, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act that will be applicable starting April 2, 2020.
Leaders are required to plan and make decisions based on strategic management, which depends upon the advice and insights provided by HR professionals.
About the Author: Rimsha Rock is a passionate blogger, writer, Content Manager, SEO expert, Youtuber, Podcaster and professional digital marketer.