In a post-COVID-19 environment, where employees have had to adjust how they work, all the HR should shift towards a more human-focused approach.
Most organizations have started focusing on scenarios for planning and taking necessary operational responses to ensure business continuity post-COVID-19. Organizations need to focus on building Communication, Trust & Transparency related to the coronavirus pandemic to restore productivity and deliver on employee experience.
Organizations have to make a lot of adjustments to their business plans and the way of working post-COVID-19. They need engaged employees more than ever to get through this challenging period. The employees might struggle with feelings of uncertainty, isolation, not being in the know, and more. Thus, the Role of Change Agents that is of the HR professionals becomes crucial in this scenario. With social distancing being implemented and practiced, it is difficult to have standard methods of process, policies & engagements leading to a new challenge for HR professionals.
Considering all these challenges into account, the human resources are going to be the lifeline of any organization and they need to handle this post-Covid situation with utmost care and diligence. Above all, these challenges revolve mostly around People Aspect of this Global Pandemic and we can see a transformational shift in HR role post-Covid.
Thus, the new role of HR can include the following few activities, though, it can go manifolds looking at the impact of the Global Pandemic.
Counseling and collaboration - To ensure communication efforts help engagement, HR Managers must have a two-way dialogue with employees. Offering proper counseling sessions with employees to help them offload their isolation anxiety, vent their fears, or just de-stress.
Sense employees’ need for support – Employees don’t want to be viewed as faceless cogs in a larger machine—they want to be recognized for the unique value each brings to the company. This uniqueness is something employers are beginning to embrace too. HR professionals need to recognize this aspect and provide the required support and communication. To enable regular conversations between the Line managers and employees, HR should provide managers with the necessary guidance on how best to approach sensitive subjects arising post-COVID-19 pandemic, including job security, alternative work models, impact to staffing, and prospects tension in the workplace.
Reinforcing Organisational values - Work well-being has the greatest impact on feelings of psychological safety — an unpleasant employee experience can negatively impact psychological safety by up to 35%. To make matters worse, during periods of uncertainty, employee misconduct increases by as much as 33%. Apart from modeling the right behaviors, HR managers should encourage whistleblowers to call out unethical behaviors, remind staff of the channels for reporting misconduct, and highlight punitive measures for non-compliance, post-Covid.
Recognizing employee efforts - As COVID-19 generates significant disruption, and undercuts employee engagement, HR managers need to redouble their recognition initiatives & efforts. Effective recognition motivates the recipient and the same time serves as a strong signal to other employees of behaviors they should emulate. Recognition can take many forms other than monetary rewards such as public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, development opportunities and low-cost perks. This reinforces the organization’s commitment to the long-term success of the employee.
Driving engagement through innovation – Present unprecedented time of change and disruption demands innovation and risk-taking becoming more important for employee engagement and organizational success. The disengaging effect of constraints on innovation and risk-taking are particularly severe for high-potential (HIPO) employees who can feel demotivated. Even when the organization has constraints on new investments, HR managers need to emphasize the need and provide opportunities for process improvements or incremental innovation.
Educating and equipping the workforce - Educating and equipping the workforce with the right information on COVID-19, safety tips, nutrition information and so on are crucial and jobs for HR Professionals. The HR needs to communicate measures taken by the company during this situation. HR can create interesting posts about escalating events and topics around this issue on the activity feed.
Focus on Employee Wellness - After understanding the anxiety and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, HR will need to put more focus on the mental health and overall wellness of the employees. Holistic benefits are a common way of introducing wellness to a company. These benefits address all aspects of well-being, including mental health and financial security. While these plans will differ in offerings, the idea is to provide employees with benefits that help improve their well-being beyond standard health coverage.
Employee upskilling - As the employee personalization trend illustrates, employees want to be appreciated on an individual level. One way employers are showing their appreciation is through upskilling, Learning and development initiatives. Not only does this help employees feel valued, but it also helps fill knowledge gaps within the company. According to a report by Deloitte, the “inability to learn and grow” is the top reason why employees leave their companies.
Framing New Age Policies - Considering the business continuity plan to deal with such exigencies, Post COVID-19, organizations need to have system, procedure and policy in place. Organizations need to review policies on workplace flexibility, remote working & contractual staffing and should review and clarify polices around pay and benefits if an office or factory is closed or impacted.
While these initiatives have become the new roles of an HR Professional, all these might not necessarily work for every company. However, in a post-COVID-19 environment, where employees have had to adjust how they work, all the HR should shift towards a more human-focused approach.
An HR professional, collectively, these initiatives can go a long way to reinforce employees’ trust for the organization and improve their impressions based on how the HR professionals react or respond in the face of crisis and uncertainty.