By Geeta L., COO & Co-Founder, AscentHR : Role of HR leaders can no more be classified as support services.Going forward, they will form not just the heart but also the backbone of any organisation. Here’s why…
Amidst all the chaos and uncertainty of the lockdowns, there were some actionsorganisations successful in combating the trauma / nuances during the pandemic undertook which helped them adapt to emerging conditions. Acquiescing to the challenges of the new normal and helping their people adapt, HR functionaries in such organisations kept working endlessly to make better policies and sustain,if not enhance,employee experience. This emerging role of HR in the post-pandemic era merits a closer look.
While the traditional role of HR was to primarily hold interactions with the employees, talent acquisition, up-skilling, and conflict resolution, it has undergone a massive transformation thanks to COVID-19. The scope has widened within these activities, and several new task families have got added in a short span. From engaging employees to offering arrangements for medical help, from remote hiring to managing operations, from updating company policies to ensuring damage control, HR has done it allin the past 15 months to keep organisations afloat.
Therefore, the present and future role of HR is not any more limited to creating an ecosystem of talent management and satisfactionbut more towardsmaking a company’s overall growth plans a reality. This can mean preventing stagnation of HR processes by devising lateral solutions during extreme market conditions and external influences. For instance,theintegration of resource management software gave birth to smart HR programs and effective leadership. Moreover, HR automation has alsoled to better resource planning, talent sourcing, and assessments apart from requirementof forecasting.
Additionally, automation and collaboration tools have helped HR around the world ease difficult tasks such askeeping them motivated through constant engagement to accelerate production and deliver results.
Facing the Challenges of Remote Working
Being almost indispensable, remote workingis here to stay for some time. In fact, a fewlarge MNCs, such as Google and Adobe, declared extended work from home in 2020. In such a scenario, HR has newer roles to play and novel tasks to handle. They have to find common ground to manage a diverse set of employees from various geographies, literally.
There is a growing emphasis on employee health and safety ever since COVID-19 hit. As the pandemic continues to create havoc, HR has to be available for each employee who is either apprehensive about the situation orimpacted by the virus in some way. Since a health emergency is at the root of this ongoing crisis, health has become a sensitive issue that needs to be addressed as soon as warning sign emerges, with plenty of precaution against worrisome eventualities. In this regard,HR has to designphysical well-being measures, share important policies, and offer health support packages to assist withemployees’ concerns.One such initiative which several organisations are taking on is the emphasis being laid on ensuring that the employees (and their cohabitants) are vaccinated.
This is because the HR leaders realised that the only thing that could save businesses from long-term repercussions was the employees. Through threats of job security, spiralling mental health conditions, and uncontrolled spread of disease,the well-being of employees is a critical need that businesses can watch over and nurture. Organisations that treated their people like assets were able to beat the ill effects of the pandemic. And that was achieved through HR leaders who extracted the maximum out of an effective communication and care policy.
Making crucial decisions
The temporary effect of the pandemic led to diminishing revenues and low productivityas stressed employees worked from home while being burdened by many fears. However, HR experts have been able to see that employees working from home are able to manage their time better, ensure better productivity during their high-performance hours even when they take unscheduled breaks,and collaborate effectively with their co-workers despite the loss of the human touch in the physical sense. To be able to drive these outcomes carefully through organisational policy and employee-friendly work models, HR generalists worked effectively and tirelessly alongside their functional counterparts.
In other cases, reducing manpower or strategic hiring were some of the ways HR adapted to survive the crisis. This is precisely why the layoff figures surged during 2020 while there was a rise in the gig economy.
HRpersonnel had to think beyond existing practices to add a certain vibrance and energy in the work environment and making it conducive to productivity. Preventing employee burnout in a stress-laden medical emergency becomes a priority. HR personnelarranged for sessions on mental health and motivational or spiritual meditation sessions that could allow the workforce to maintain the energy and positive vibes.
A peek into the future
In the future, there might be greater fluidity in the working hours, locations, as well as work arrangements. Needless to say, remote working will be an integral part of every organisation while the gig economy will grow deeper. There would be greater emphasis on learning and development to make employees future-ready.
Here, HR plays the role of moderator and custodian, making employee-friendly policies and balancing them with the organisational goals. They plan for the scope of transformation when rapid digitalisation and HR Tech take over, keeping the pace realistic and well-suited to individuals with different learning appetites. Digitalisation has transformed businesses across the globe. But it needs to be blended well with empathy, the human touch, and work culture. This role of blendingthe function and humane aspects will enhance the digital solutions brought about. This is the role of HR that will help organisations survive the post-COVID era.
Businesses and the thoughtful initiatives developed by HR have helpedthe dustsettle. The COVID crisis maybe just about nearing its end but the lessons learnt will remain with them forever.
HR’s responsibility to sustain this momentum becomes an enduringpart of their role, and will influence other areas such as job security and attrition, which continue to be massive concerns during these uncertain times.