The Evolving Role of HR in a Pandemic-driven Landscape

The pandemic has changed businesses in a lot of ways, and the changes aren’t only skin deep. For most companies, employees have had to rethink the way they do what they used to do. With this, the human resources definition has also changed. Working remotely has undoubtedly disrupted business; if that’s a good thing or not depends on how companies respond to this change.

The New Way of Working

Organizations are rethinking the way they deliver services, foster talent, and strengthen and develop HR strategies to support the changing needs of employees. There’s also an increased focus on employees’ mental health and wellbeing, not to mention the burden of providing support to employees who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Remote working and the pandemic has made it more challenging to keep employees productive, engaged, and connected. The “new normal” isn’t completely “normal” yet, and organizations that have been slow to respond to the new way of working are finding that adapting isn’t that easy or clear-cut. They will have to shape up, though, and quickly. Remote working may be here to stay as 48% of employees have indicated that they feel happier about work since they started working remotely. Keeping work organized and teams connected will be a major focus for HR as employees have relatively less face time than ever before.

The New Way of HR

The challenges faced by HR teams are not as simple as they sound. More than optimizing processes and organizing enrichment and development programs for employees, they also have to ensure that employees remain engaged and motivated despite the circumstances. HR teams should go back to the basics and rethink the fundamental principles of organization, because a system based on old rules simply won’t work in the post-pandemic era.

The Extension of Company Culture Outside the Office

Organizational culture is arguably one of the main responsibilities of HR teams, so much so, that it’s often integrated into the human resources definition of most organizations. With employees working from home, however, it’s challenging to bring this culture to each and every employee. The new way of working underscores the importance of company culture because it is, and should be, the basis of decisions and actions. If it isn’t managed intentionally, employees can lose sight of the organization’s mission, vision, and bigger goals. Whether employees are working on site or off, employers should always be aware of how company culture impacts teams. HR teams can take the lead in closing the gaps between current culture and desired culture since they are the most equipped in determining the variables that affect company culture. Prioritization and knowing where to focus is vital in sustaining an ideal company culture during uncertain times. HR will play a major role in reinventing organizations to respond to the call of the times.

Implementing Systemic Changes Within the Organization

Keeping an organization agile and flexible entails more than just the addition of new processes or modification of current ones. Speed and scalability is key in today’s disruptive business landscape, and HR can significantly affect an organization’s capabilities in this regard by taking a systemic approach. Adapting to the new way of working means going back to the fundamentals and implementing changes that will affect the organization as a whole. Communication is vital in an era where most employees are working remotely. Organizations should leverage tools that will help enhance this aspect. Ultimately, HR should help facilitate an open dialogue so that employees feel empowered to voice out concerns and employers get direct feedback that will help in making organizational decisions. The role of AI in human resources has been explored in recent years, and it’s an avenue worth looking into if organization’s are to remain agile and have the ability to pivot at a moment’s notice. HR professionals believe that AI can help find jobs, provide virtual job coaching, and assist recruiters in screening candidates.

Making Leaders Out of Leaders

Having leaders is vital in a team structure, but HR should ensure that the people in leadership positions are properly equipped for the job. Mediocre leadership has no place in an efficient, growing organization, especially in difficult times like today. In developing leaders, HR should also ensure that they instill a sense of accountability. Leaders should be trained to manage remote teams to maintain productivity and engagement. The relationship between team leader and member is a vital ingredient of productivity, and HR should be the steward of this relationship as employees face new challenges and ways of working.

The Human Factor

The human resources definition has evolved and will continue to do so through the years as businesses also evolve. One constant, however, is the relationship between employee experience and the bottom line: improving the former leads to improvement on the latter. The pandemic has driven organizations to working arrangements with limited face-to-face interactions and engagement activities. HR teams are the architects of employee experience. While software and tools are available to help facilitate employee enhancement programs, it’s the “human touch” that makes these programs successful. Building team morale and fostering an atmosphere of positivity is vital as mental health becomes a major focus for most organizations. The “humanization of HR“ ensures that organizations provide a collaborative, inspiring, and motivational atmosphere focused on delivering a meaningful—and enjoyable—employee experience.
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