COVID-19 has reshaped workplaces, the economy and how businesses operate. Its impact will continue to influence our lives for years to come. According to a recent article from McKinsey & Company, there are five stages every company will face during the pandemic. The first two are underway: managing the health emergency, and the immediate adjustments businesses have made in response to the crisis, such as the mass movement to work from home during lockdown.
The three stages yet to be overcome are - planning for the new normal, rethinking business according to the new reality, and understanding the changed market. To embrace this change for the better, businesses need to be more adaptable than ever.
Technology has long been the driver of change in business. Industry 4.0 has seen artificial intelligence, robotic process automation and machine learning revolutionise many industries. The businesses that had taken steps to utilise these technologies pre-pandemic had an edge, but the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of this software across the market. In roles that do not require physical presence, working virtually from home has now become the norm dispelling earlier concerns and apprehensions about productivity.
To support the move to working from home with minimal disruption and maximum efficiency, businesses need to implement smart technology solutions and reinvent established processes to be more digital. Digitisation has demanded new ways of thinking about the world of work, both practically (as organizations increase the number of digital tools being used by the workforce) and culturally (as a shift in mind-set is required to adapt to the new way of delivering products and services).
HR teams play a critical role in enabling the cultural part of this change by adapting the policies and being innovative in coming with approaches to continue strong employee engagement in the new work. Simple, low touch, high connect solutions like ADP StandOut supported by deep research are key to building strong connections between employees and their leaders in this mostly virtual environment that offers very little in-person interactions. With a simple 5 question weekly check-in process, Standout helps a leader understand “feelings” and “needs” of their team members that can drive proactive actions by the leader. System based coaching driven by AI/ML assessments of the “check-ins” provides valuable advice to employees on a regular basis. Organization can further supplement it with dedicated coaches where needed.
With increasing responsibilities for the HR teams in the new environment, it is important to determine key functions they perform themselves and non-differentiating areas that are appropriate to outsource to trusted partners. This would help HR leaders create time to focus on the differentiators they can create for their organization. HR leaders play a key role in determining solutions that suit their organization since they possess a strong understanding of the organizational culture which impacts adoption of tools. They also play a major role in defining how the solution should be implemented in their organization for effective utilization of features.
Introduction of cloud technologies means businesses can manage large amounts of data in a short time. The use of more sophisticated IT infrastructures not only provides the employee with the tools to be able to work remotely, but allows the company to contain costs and create more streamlined, flexible and controllable organisational models.
Digital transformation is expected to bring better collaboration within and between organizations, more personalised ways of customer engagement, higher employee innovation and productivity, and more accurate insights from data, all of which help a business grow and give it a better chance of thriving post-pandemic. The pandemic-induced reset mode made enterprises relook at their existing business models and accelerate their digital-first approach. HR leaders can bring a unique perspective on the impacts on the user community to the business leadership teams to develop the new age business models that help organizations succeed in future.
The pandemic has hugely impacted the Human Resource of any organization. It is now more than ever necessary for HR to ensure prioritizing employee health and safety. With the current hybrid work environment, HR of every organization needs to ensure proper policies are in place for its employees. Continuous learning is necessary through reskilling and upskilling to stay relevant with the changing times.
To be ready for a future that is still uncertain, companies must start a modernisation process that involves the acquisition of flexible technologies, the strategic key to face the next challenges and to make the company more resistant and ready for the challenges ahead.