It goes without saying that professionals across all areas of business, regardless of the discipline or industry has had to adapt to new ways of working and operating as a result of the pandemic. None of these more so than those working within HR. With the digital transformation of recent years, those working within HR have had a difficult job of ensuring staff were equipped with the digital skills necessary to exist successfully in the modern workplace. When the pandemic hit, and whole operations had to move the majority if not all of their teams to home, HR had to significantly streamline their processes to ensure that companies could do this efficiently, and most of all compliantly.
With this mass influx of changes to policies and procedures, and the landscape changing so rapidly and with significant uncertainty, we took a look at some of the key ways HR departments have adjusted so far in 2020…
Being aware that the environment is complex but avoiding complication
While the current situation requires much resolve, commitment and problem solving from both HR and employees alike – the end goal should be to make these changes as uncomplicated as possible. HR departments who ensure a close liaison with the rest of their employees have a better chance of reaching this cohesively. Many of the problems we have experienced during COVID are not like anything we have ever seen before, therefore there is no set best practice or structure to follow. As our 2020 Salary & Employment Insights report says: “A good HR function can help to maintain a happy, healthy, and most importantly, stable workforce.” With coronavirus putting businesses under unprecedented pressure in these highly uncertain times, keeping things calm and steady is more important than ever.
There are copious examples of how HR departments in organizations have risen to the challenge, from the global players right down to the smaller SME’s. One such is social media giant LinkedIn, who according to SHRM, developed a set of credentials that their HR team could use to load internally used software remotely to assist them with training new employees. To come up with this innovative idea though, the HR team at LinkedIn first needed to abolish any hierarchy and invite various members of different teams to share their concerns and suggestions on how to enable remote onboarding successfully across the business.
Creating a culture of trust, in a time of unease
The current landscape has been difficult for everyone to navigate, and so further incorporating and promoting the value of trust in your companies’ brand, EVP, mission statement and company culture is crucial. This is not only relevant in encouraging employees to trust in their employer, but also vice versa in ensuring managers are trusting their employees to work from home and to get the job done. Diane Adams, Chief Culture and Talent Officer at Sprinklr, recently wrote that ”Getting culture right is crucial across all levels of business at any time — but it’s particularly important in times of crisis,” and she couldn’t be more correct.
For HR departments, this could mean rewarding performance and success publicly within the company, letting employees work flexibly even when working remotely, and most of all being transparent. It also means HR departments leaving room for more autonomy for their employees, to let them develop their own work habits, norms and mould their roles and make them their own. Manager-employee relationships should consist of honest, open communication and should go against the preconceived stereotype that there should be a great distance and secrecy between employers and their employees.
Creating relevant collateral and keeping the messaging consistent and clear
Remote working is here to stay and as companies adjusted (and are still adjusting) to this new way of working, the distribution of relevant, engaging collateral to be used internally and externally is important for both management and employees alike. HR professionals have had to ramp up the training, investment, and production of such collateral to facilitate this process. Global tech giant Microsoft created a Guide to Working From Home During COVID-19 which they not only distributed to their entire global workforce, but which they also made available to their customers as a customisable version. The guide contains practical tips on important topics such as setting up your workspace, managing your time and using online resources, and is a useful template for other HR departments to get on board with and to roll out to their employees.
An organisation or business should serve as a source of support for their employees during this difficult and overwhelming time. Therefore, ensuring your employees have everything they need to adjust to working during COVID-19 effectively should be top of any HR departments priority list. This may involve facilitating relevant training to managers, offering mentoring and coaching opportunities for individuals within the business to guide them through the process, and possibly even launching Employee Resource Groups for remote workers.
It is a pivotal time for HR departments globally. What was once a support service role has now become the centre focus of any organisations, as employees and management alike look towards it for both guidance and support. The above are just some of the ways HR departments have adapted to facilitate new ways of working. If you would like to discuss anything further on the above article, are interested in finding your new role, or require assistance with your hiring needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and one of our specialist consultants will be happy to help!