How has COVID-19 changed the HR role

December 17, 2021 |


HR is at the forefront of businesses’ COVID-19 crisis response.

Almost every firm is being forced to establish, adapt, or upgrade remote work rules and procedures as a result of the problem.

As HR professionals fight to keep employees safe and informed, consider what changes are more permanent and how you’ll guide employees and organizational leadership through them.

Here aresome effects that you’ll almost certainly have to deal with long after things have returned to “normal.”

Remote work is here to stay

And that’s a good thing, because many workers will continue to work remotely at least part of the time after firms reopen their doors, in addition to switching to remote temporarily as we weather this crisis.

Employees have access to the technology and communications infrastructure required for successful remote work for the majority of firms.

However, HR must begin right away, working together with Finance, IT, and other departments to establish and execute new policies. The following are some of the issues that must be addressed:

How will managers adapt their current work norms, meeting agendas, and communication tactics to the new reality?

Who will foot the bill for remote workers’ internet access and any necessary equipment, such as printers, monitors, and headsets?

If someone leaves or is fired, how will you get them back?

What changes should be made to job descriptions to accommodate part-time or full-time remote work?

How will you keep track of attendance and enforce it?

What HR departments must change – in a remote work environment, people acquisition and development, discipline, benefits, and compensation all present unique issues.

Meanwhile, HR’s job in maintaining and monitoring morale becomes even more critical.

It’s a good idea to set up a formal process for checking in with remote employees during a crisis to see how they’re handling the increased stress — and to stay on top of any difficulties once things have returned to normal.

Are they in contact with their coworkers and their boss? Is there anything they can do to assist them stay productive? Are they aware of the options available for mental wellness and how to access them?

In the next weeks, it will also become evident which jobs cannot be done effectively offsite. You’ll also need to start thinking about contingency plans and work policies for those.

In dispersed businesses, cultivating culture becomes more difficult.

Workers and executives tell researchers that a strong and well-defined organizational culture is essential for long-term success.

It establishes the organization’s identity, assists in the formulation of its mission, and provides a sense of identity and purpose to personnel at all levels.

However, in times of crisis, when decisions are made on the fly and financial survival takes precedence over nearly everything else, culture is vulnerable.

Unfortunately, culture cannot be automated; there is no technological solution that can preserve and improve organizational culture.

The only instruments that will work are employee involvement, consistent communication, and leadership commitment to your culture.

Workers will notice lip service even if they work remotely, and they will remember it when the crisis is over.

It’s difficult to place culture at the top of HR’s priority list when you’re always putting out fires. Culture, on the other hand, is much more vital now and can help your company stay together in the long run.

Recruiting and retaining top talent is crucial

Companies and entire industries are laying off workers and stopping hiring as the devastating economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak become obvious.

In the early phases of the eventual recovery, this may necessitate a larger reliance on contractors and temp labor. However, how organizations are treated throughout this crisis will affect their reputations among the prospects you’ll need in the long run.

In the short term, this could involve rehiring certain employees as 1099 contractors or assisting them in signing up with temp agencies.

Keeping your talent pipeline full and maintaining contact with possible rehires and new candidates is a good idea even in the midst of current uncertainty and volatility.

Compliance and accommodation

Employers face new policy challenges and, possibly, very significant employment legal concerns as the number of employees working remotely grows.

The following are examples of potential compliance issues:

Employer acts that are permissible under the ADA, FMLA, Title VII, and other federal and state laws and regulations.

“Disability-related questions,” “medical examinations,” “direct threat,” “undue hardship,” and other phrases used in the ADA.

FMLA regulations and leave rules.

Employee protection through acceptable teleworking arrangements.

Keep track of all the new requirements in new legislation coming out of Congress, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which goes into effect on or before April 2, 2020.

Effective action necessitates advanced planning and strategic management decisions, both of which will significantly rely on the guidance and knowledge that only HR can provide.

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