How HR can be battle-ready: Lessons learned from COVID
The disturbance caused by the pandemic has resulted in a significant transformation of the way we lead our lives and how we function in our day-to-day commotion. Our work culture has not been immune to these changes and the consequential transformation in workplaces all over the world has been quite considerable and evident.
The pandemic is directly affected at the heart of Human Resource Management, which is to create & nurture the association between the workforce and the organization, and at the same time catering to the needs of employees and the employers by ensuring financially and physically safe and productive workspace. HR had to deal with unpredictable implications of talent acquisition and retention during this difficult time, while reducing the exposure of employees to financial, physical, and emotional distress and at the same time minimizing workforce suspension or layoffs.
HR needs to be battle-ready to tackle any future challenges and evolve successfully to emerge on top by anticipating the unpredictable nature of the business landscape. Let’s focus on the immense learning opportunities during this crisis and what HR can do with this knowledge to adapt and evolve in this symbiotic relationship:
- The need for re-skilling and up-skilling: The most important lesson that COVID-19 has taught is the need for preparedness for dealing with the unpredictability of the work environment and the ability to adapt effectively and efficiently. The inevitable advent & quick adoption of technology due to the events of the pandemic have created the need for a well-prepared & adaptable workforce. It becomes imperative to re-skill and up-skill employees to make them well suited for the changing roles at a workplace and enable organizations to better allocate employees to any part of the business. This will help both the employee and the employer to be prepared for any type of future opportunities increasing the employee retention rate significantly.
- Proficient management of Human Resources: While the pandemic affected every aspect of the economy worldwide, its most significant impact has been on humanity. The panic and uncertainty among people were among the biggest consequences. People had to change everything they had learned and adapt to a new normal, and quickly. This adjustment was in most cases overwhelming and emotionally exhausting. The changes were unprecedented and devoid of long-term plans or strategies. Managements had to adapt here as well to ensure an empathetic approach to help the most essential component of HR, namely humans. HR should develop emotional acumen to make appropriate decisions from the perspective of management trying to deal with any crisis in the future, and at the same time consider the perspective of employees and their needs or difficulties caused by any uncertainties.
- Transparent work culture: The pandemic has taught the need for interdependence and trust between employees and employers. People working from home learned to work efficiently with reduced supervision, and the management had to learn to place their trust in the capabilities of their employees. Alternative methods of workforce collaboration have helped build trust and confidence within the hierarchy. This has helped management to connect better with the employees, creating more adaptive and efficient teams.
- Important of mental and physical wellbeing: COVID-19 presented significant challenges for employees and tested the physical as well as the mental health of people. The circumstances are reported to be responsible for anxiety and sometimes depression among the workforce. HR needs to recognize the importance of mental wellbeing along with the social, physical, and financial health of their employees. This will certainly help HR to create a satisfied, motivated, and ambitious workforce working towards a common goal.
- Importance of HR: The pandemic has taught businesses the value and importance of HR. While the world was contemplating AI taking over HR, the situations arising due to the pandemic put a spotlight on the significance of human touch. Motivating the workforce while keeping their morale up and boosting inspiration has been quite challenging. Discovering and innovating methods for continued communication between employers and employees was imperative. This was the biggest test for the HR industry and this sector's ability to adapt and stay strong helped businesses to keep going while minimizing any losses.
- Security: Another important aspect of HR that came into the limelight during the pandemic was the need and requirement of security. This encompasses financial security along with secure workplace relationships, which define job roles and working toward unified goals. These are the aspects that help a workforce maintain some sense of semblance in unprecedented situations in unpredictable working conditions.
- Training: Businesses have learned the value of the welfare of employees and are working with HR to find the best ways to provide support to the workforce during these troubled times. HR industry has been working tirelessly to train employees and employers to be able to cope with both work and personal stability, as well as the stress brought on by the situation.
- Digitalization: Although the trends relating to technological advances were slowly creeping up in every sector, the unprecedented events following the global onset of COVID-19 ushered in an era of rapid dependence on technology. Trends like working from home, virtual correlation, and communication became the new normal and every business has had to adopt this development to mitigate the negative economic impact of the inability to function in the conventional sense. This has been the need of the hour, while the advent of digitalization in the HR department was inevitable, COVID-19 has given this industry a much-needed push in the right direction.
In any case, The Human Resources sector has responded well to the situation and demonstrated flexibility while adapting to the new normal by creating innovative methods to incorporate technology to ensure smooth operations during the pandemic. Nevertheless, we are gradually coming out of the snag created by the pandemic. However, the HR sector has to continue exhibiting the flexibility to capitalize on the opportunities that will develop in a post-pandemic world by relying on what it has learned in the COVID-19 crisis.
The events of COVID have shown us the capacity, capability, and adaptability of people. HRM now has a clear idea of how they can manage and handle any uncertainty. The pace and scale of workplace innovation are greater than ever and it calls for finding simpler, faster, and economical ways to operate.
This goes to show how we can move away from traditional approaches and solutions. This crisis has been a catalyst, pushing us to reinvent the future of work and create opportunities for companies to look at things differently. The biggest thing is how COVID and social distancing have taught this industry to be future-ready to fight any unpredictability while keeping in view the above aspects of change in this industry. This will forever change the way we look at work and what companies expect of employees.