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5 Ways Covid is Influencing HR’s Role Within Businesses

5 min read
HR's role

2020 hasn’t been an easy ride to say the least. When corona virus began swooping through the world, our lives as we know them changed drastically from one day to the next. However, not just our day to day lives have transformed, but also businesses processes and the ways they function. With a particular change occurring to HR’s role within businesses.

HR’s role during the corona pandemic has been incremental. With Human Resource departments being placed at the front line in instigating changes to deal with the covid pandemic. The crisis has forced businesses globally to alter and adapt their normal way of functioning. They have been forced into survival mode. Furthermore, HR’s role has had to adapt. Becoming centralized in assuring the safety of their employees, organizing and managing remote work and assuring the happiness and wellbeing of their workers.

This article will analyse the principle way HR’s role within companies has adapted to the global pandemic.

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Facilitating the Remote Work of Employees

According to a 2019 National Compensation Survey, only 7% of civilian workers within the US had the opportunity to work from home or had flexible workplace benefits in place. Furthermore, those that were granted that privilege, were mostly managers or other highly paid white-collar professionals. By comparison, in a study conducted by Clutch, it was revealed that 44% of all workers in the US are currently working remotely at least 5 days a week. This huge increase has had a consequential impact on the HR teams and HR’s role within companies.

Logistical Issues

HR professionals have had to deal with many logistical issues, such as making sure all employees are fully equipped to work from home. By providing employees with the right tools they need to go about their day to day work. Many questions will need to be resolved such as; who will fund the equipment needed to facilitate remote working? The responsibility to find solutions to these questions falls largely on the shoulders of HR departments.

Through this crisis, HR’s role has also become closely aligned with other departments such as finance and IT, in order to develop and establish new rules and policies to deal with the changes. Many questions need to be answered, such as:

  • Who can companies afford to keep on?
  • Who will receive furlough?
  • In what ways will attendance and performance be monitored?
  • How will new work rules, schedules, and communication strategies be implemented into the new reality?

Additionally, HR departments will also have to manage and develop contingency plans for those roles that cannot be conducted remotely. An additional job HR professionals did not even have to consider before the pandemic arrived.

Engaging Remote Workers

Keeping remote workers engaged and productive is of immense importance to the HR team of any company. This can be achieved through motivating and supporting them. It is well known that those employees that feel like their mental and physical health are a priority are more likely to be engaged with the work they do, and will therefore work harder. Furthermore, the more engaged an employee is, the better the work they produce. According to a two-decade long study conducted by Gallup, employee engagement has a number of benefits. These include performing better, treating their customers better, staying to work for the organization longer term. Additionally, engaged employees are less likely to get burnt out, meaning lower rates of sick leave and absenteeism.

Showing your employees you are there to support them will go a long way. Additionally, it is important to provide pastoral care through catch-ups and coaching sessions for those employees that are struggling. HR professionals should stay in regular contact with all employees to ensure they are coping well.

Furthermore, HR’s role to maintain morale during these testing times has become essential. Although this is not a new HR role, its necessity has become intensified, meaning it can no longer be left as a second priority. Now, during these difficult times, it is more needed than ever.

Mental Health

According to the KFF tracking poll conducted in July, 53% of adults stated that their mental health had been adversely impacted due to the anxiety and stress caused by coronavirus. As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, the measures enforced to deal with the virus exacerbate poor mental health conditions due to the stresses they cause, such as isolation and job losses.

Therefore, although HR professionals always had a responsibility to look after the mental health of their employees, now this role has heightened in importance, as they are needed more than ever.

Maintaining a Strong Company Culture

Maintaining a strong company culture is of huge importance to the success of businesses. Company culture is defined as the values, beliefs, and goals that make up an organization. If workers share the same values as their employers, they are more likely to enjoy and thrive from the work they do. This, therefore, improves their productivity and satisfaction levels, which positively affects the success of a company.

However, in times of crisis, company culture tends to take a backseat, as more financial focused priorities take precedence. Additionally, organizational culture cannot be created or maintained in a set way. No technology can help nurture organizational culture. Making it hard to maintain when the whole office is working from home. Therefore, creating another challenge for the HR teams to overcome.

Understandably, during global pandemics, businesses tend to not consider the promotion of company culture as a priority. However, it is what will help maintain the calm and will strengthen and support the organization over the long term.

Acquisition and Retention of Employees

With the detrimental impact of the covid pandemic, companies have gone through a hiring freeze and are laying off employees. However, employee retention is important to keep morale high, so letting workers go should be a last resort. As a company’s reputation depends heavily on the way they manage and treat their employees during times of crisis.

HR’s role forms an incremental part of this. They must make sure those that are laid off or put on a furlough scheme are aided and supported through the process. HR could help those that have been laid off by assisting them in signing with a temp agency or as soon as business returns to normal assuring them that they will be re-hired within the same role.

HR's role

This crisis has not been easy on any of us. However, HR departments have had a lot of new responsibilities and issues to deal with. HR’s role within companies has drastically had to adapt to the changing needs of employees and of the business. It has been no easy ride, but when we eventually come out the other side, HR departments will be all the more equipped and prepared for anything that is thrown their way.

In the meantime, it is a good idea to facilitate your HR department’s job by providing them with an easy-to-use smart HR software such as Factorial HR. This streamlines all those tedious HR processes that given the current situation are not a number one priority, but yet still must get done.

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