The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted how businesses operate, and HR management is no exception. In fact, HR was hit the hardest. Coming out on the other end three years later, companies across the world have been forced to adapt to the new reality of remote work, shifting employee expectations, rapidly changing technology and new employment legislation, just to name a few. Leaving HR professionals to continually pivot and adjust their strategies to keep their organizations running smoothly, with many facing burnout along the way.
So, just how much has the role of HR shifted in recent years? Well, we know it’s a lot! But let’s look at six specific ways how the landscape has forever changed.
Remote Work and Telecommuting are Here to Stay
Perhaps the most significant change in HR management has been the shift to remote work and telecommuting. As companies were forced to close their physical offices and move their employees to work from home, HR managers had to quickly adapt their policies and procedures to accommodate this new way of working. And now, three years later, for many organizations remote work is the norm — and an employee expectation.
This way of working has brought a whole new set of challenges for HR. They must ensure employees have the necessary equipment and resources to work from home and that teams remain engaged and productive. This has led to continually evolving leadership approaches as well as changing policies around communication, collaboration, and work hours.
Changes in Recruitment and Hiring
The pandemic has had a profound and enduring impact on recruitment and hiring practices. Initially, there were layoffs – both temporary and permanent – and then came a sudden surge in hiring as people returned to work or sought new job opportunities, and companies competed fiercely to attract top talent.
Now, we see a combination with some industries like technology that are experiencing downsizing whereas others are still hiring in record numbers. To stay afloat, companies must factor in a new set of challenges such as persistent inflation, rising interest rates, and a workforce with new expectations and priorities.
Prospective employees are looking for a clear path for career growth, wages that keep pace with inflation, and a flexible (and in some cases fractional) work environment that leverages modern technology.
Employee Health and Safety Re-assessments
During the pandemic, HR was required to implement new policies and procedures to keep their employees safe, such as providing personal protective equipment, sanitizing workspaces, and enforcing social distancing guidelines.
HR managers were also responsible for ensuring that employees who were sick or exposed to the virus were adequately cared for. This led to new policies around sick leave, flexible work arrangements, and paid time off.
Now, employees and employers have agreed that investing in a higher standard of cleanliness in the workplace and an understood set of standard courtesy rules to prevent the spread of disease is a good thing. Employees expect higher protection from injury and illness from their employers, and HR departments are responsible for maintaining those standards.
Mental Health and Wellness Moved to the Forefront
COVID-19 took a heavy toll on employee mental health and wellness, revealing many existing weaknesses in human resources, specifically how companies care for their employees. Companies are now much more willing to address the mental and physical health needs of their employees and provide counseling services, wellness programs, exercise classes, support groups, and mental health days. HR has been double tasked with this both implementing new standards, policies and programs while also engaging leaders and managers in how to create psychologically safe work environments.
Employee Engagement and Retention Is Much Harder
In a post-pandemic workplace, a pizza party and a gift card don’t have the same positive effect, if they ever really did at all. HR professionals must get creative about new ways to engage employees in the company mission and create a workplace that employees love.
HR professionals must also address the concerns of employees worried about their job security and future career prospects. This requires transparent communication and clear messaging about the company’s plans and priorities. Employees have more options, so working in a company with an unclear vision and business priorities or a dark path to advancement is a stronger deterrent than ever.
A Lack of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be a Deal-Breaker
The past few years have also highlighted existing disparities and inequities in the workplace. HR managers must ensure that their organizations are inclusive and welcoming to all employees, regardless of race, gender, age, or other factors.
This requires focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, such as unconscious bias training, inclusive hiring practices, and employee resource groups. HR managers must also be prepared to address any discrimination or bias within their organizations. These are all part of our Human Resources Operating System, or HROS™, that we offer. It’s a strategic HR process that equips HR leaders with the learnings and tools to handle everything discussed here.
Although things have settled in terms of the pandemic, HR must remain flexible and adaptive. All signs point to the fact that we will continue to feel the impact of COVID-19 on human resource management in the years to come. And now, we’re facing a new host of challenges impacting workplaces and employees including inflation, economic uncertainty and geopolitical events.
The ability to pivot quickly and make changes on the fly has proven critical for organizations that want to survive and thrive in the post-pandemic world. HR has had to navigate a rapidly changing landscape from remote work and telecommuting to employee health and safety concerns.
It’s not all bad news, though. These challenges have also created opportunities for innovation and the development of new strategies and practices that will shape the future of HR in a very positive way.
As we look to the future, HR must be ready to adapt and focus on building resilient and inclusive organizations that can thrive in any environment. That’s where Gameplan HR™ can help.
If you feel overwhelmed or want to improve your company, let us give you a game plan for an HR strategy covering all your bases. Please set up a call with an Gameplan Advisor today, and one of our friendly experts will guide you through a process to create a Human Resources Operating System™ that builds an excellent workplace for your company!