Businesses across different sectors and even the global tech marketplace are all adjusting to the new Covid-19 lifestyle, especially the changes in everyday life that have resulted because of the threat from the disease. While businesses and economies steadily try to crawl towards reopening and restarting processes, these are by and large still early days and the upcoming hurdles that teams and business leaders may need to prepare for and overcome are still to be understood.
As companies pave their way toward rebuilding processes and readjusting priorities to boost those (much needed) sales revenues, to ensure better business success, the role of HR will become very crucial.
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During the lockdown, HR leaders and Chief People Officers have had to work hard to support their teams and employees when it comes to the routine challenges faced with a sudden shift to working from home. Enabling the right HR policies while ensuring a seamless communication is maintained between managers and their teams while also focusing on overall employee safety and health, including their wellness were all tasks that needed attention during this time.
As businesses and economies restart core activities, HR teams will need to refocus and realign their efforts. Here’s how the role of HR will need to change:
Identifying those who can work from home and those who need to resume work-from-office
While team leaders and business heads have a control over who their essential team mates are, one can argue that it is they who will have to now define who could possibly continue the work from home model while identifying their ‘’essential taskforce’’ who will need to resume a work-from-office model as lockdowns are lifted. HR leaders and HR teams will have to support departments by helping them put the right processes in place and ensuring a fair level of data security if companies choose to allow a certain percentage of their employees to continue working from home for the rest of 2020.
While work-from-home has witnessed it’s fair share of benefits with some experts discussing the financial savings and benefits to company costs, one cannot ignore the other side of the coin- work from home comes with its own set of cons too, with young parents finding it difficult to cope with young children at home because day care centers have been closed due to the pandemic. Not to mention, the added need to reinforce security measures and policies, especially for teams who handle critical personal data, like those who work for banking and financial institutions.
As employees slowly crawl towards a post-Covid-19 work environment, offices at large, especially HR heads will have to work closely with administrative and housekeeping departments to put different office sanitization and cleaning procedures in place, maybe even multiple times in the day.
While several global companies have spoken about having employees return to the workplace in staggered shifts, in order to maintain safe social distancing, it is crucial for offices to now remodel how they maintain their infrastructure and overall hygiene levels, in light of the Covid-19 threat.
Besides improved sanitization measures, human resource teams will also have to make the right equipment installation (hand hygiene systems, thermal body scanners, etc) to ensure the overall health of every employee while reducing the risk of the disease.
Upskilling/ Reskilling the workforce to Suit New Post-Covid Work Conditions
In order to keep every employee within the organization or a factory safe, human resource managers will have to retrain employees on the must-do’s while at work. Laying down new HR policies that help ensure every team member sanitizes their own hands while wearing a mask is number one, for instance. Upskilling employees on other need-of-the-hour skills like basic medical training, teaching them to understand how to maintain social distancing without going over the top while ensuring seamless business activities are another.
Human resource teams will also have to be more attentive and train employees on basic must-dos for when they enter and exit the office policies, besides skilling them on what needs to be done while they are at the office.
Revisiting Medical Assistance Policies while Ensuring Employee Wellness
Employees across industries have experienced high levels of anxiety and stress during the Covid-19 lockdown, in part due to the fear over job security and also because their health, like everyone else’s, is at risk.
As offices resume, human resource teams and HR heads will have to revisit insurance and mediclaim policies to ensure they are able to offer their workforce the right medical support in case of an emergency. On the other hand, HR heads will also have to prioritize how they manage their employee wellness while putting policies in place to help maintain their overall mental health.
Fair Recruitment Practices
At a time when most companies have chosen to freeze hiring practices, while businesses reopen, human resource teams and HR managers will now have to relook their recruitment and hiring practices. Understanding what roles can help streamline functions while maintaining a lean team should be a priority at a time when business activities have anyway suffered with companies experiencing revenue loss and lower earnings during this time. Besides this, HR heads will have to put in place fair hiring practices that can help prioritize hiring of those who have been the worst impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reorganizing the Workforce
Both business leaders and HR teams will now have to create a shift within the organization by strong team restructuring. Keeping in mind that the threat of the Covid-19 disease is still looming large, it is now time for business heads to use the competencies and core skills of their workforce to achieve business continuity goals.
Business heads, HR and Administration will have to work closely together to bring overhead and operational costs down, while reducing business travel plans, funds and expenses will have to restricted to help ensure long term sustainability of the business.
Above all, this a time for every employee across industries to be able to learn how to handle a crisis, while thriving in a world of uncertainty. Resilience can help teams master the storm that Covid-19 has brought on.
A learning mindset and agile functioning will help businesses thrive through these trying times. It is now up to business heads and HR teams to help their companies get through the crisis. Motivating returning employees while re-aligning tasks, leading with transparency are some of the priorities that businesses will have to focus on, for the next few months.