The COVID-19 pandemic has snowballed into a global issue and has left the world in complete disarray. Until today, companies are still struggling to adapt to the new norms amidst the ongoing pandemic, deploying and testing new strategies while navigating through unchartered waters.
Until the Coronavirus is brought under control, companies still face a multitude of challenges. For HR departments, that means reinventing policies, questioning practices, keeping the business afloat while satisfying employees in the process.
Most human resources professionals weren’t ready for all the sudden changes that started emerging last March 2020. That is the primary cause of difficulties they’re going through and why many of them had to apply an emergency response to hiring freezes, lay-offs, and remote hiring and work from home.
Some of the initial problems still remain up to this day, with new problems breeding uncertainty within the workplace. As we sail deeper into 2021, it’s time to reflect on the most pressing challenges HR professionals face.
1. REMOTE AND HYBRID MODELS OF WORK
In a post-COVID society, working from home or telecommuting has become a common setup. Although no novelty, COVID-19 doubled the number of teleworkers, and 30 percent of them will stay in virtual offices until the end of the year.
A 2020 Wrike’s survey on remote work preparedness found that 44 percent of employees don’t have the right infrastructure, platforms, and data they require for fully productive work. Thus, almost half of the questionnaire’s participants say they want to know what employers expect from them concerning availability, work productivity standards, and working hours.
Despite having time to adjust to the new virtual workplace, working remotely and hiring remotely still presents itself as a challenge to HR professionals. The majority of companies didn’t have telework programs or policies before the pandemic hit. It is why, to this day, most of them operate under their first-response procedures.
As the virtual workplace continues to develop, recruiters and hiring managers have to evaluate whether they have the right standards and policies in place. They have to organize and provide telework training and consider how every employee can sustainably work remotely.
The rise of virtual offices is also adding a competitive edge to recruiting process. For instance, 80 percent of U.S. workers say they wouldn’t consider a company that doesn’t offer flexible working. But managing remote work is not the only challenge HR has to battle anymore.
Hybrid models of work are the new future workplace. Employees love working from home, but they also want to work from physical offices a few days per week. For example, a Gartner survey found that 82 percent of CEOs believe that their workers will divide their working hours between on-site and remote work. As a result, HR has to consider how to implement practices that cover both forms.
2. EMPLOYEE WELLNESS AND WELL-BEING
The pandemic places a greater emphasis on employees’ health as they have to juggle workplace productivity, fears concerning health and their own private lives. This has left everyone questioning the gravity of COVID-19’s impact on an employee’s wellbeing.
A 2020 CIPD report found that stress-related absence from work increased last year. They also discovered that work-related stress, depression, or anxiety accounts for 54 percent of days off. According to a survey by NIHCM Foundation, 51 percent of U.S. workers reported worse mental health at work since the pandemic started. Motivation, team morale, productivity, stress, and work-life balance are the most frequent factors that impact their wellness.
It is now much harder to monitor employees and address any issues that might arise from the changes of the workplace.
HR professionals are under the pressure of quickly developing, improving, or implementing well-being programs and encouraging workers to reach out when in need of help. As the uncertainty prolongs, so does the need to provide additional support, tweak existing health procedures, and ensure safe workplaces.
3. COVID-19 VACCINE AND WORKPLACES
COVID-19 vaccine is a cure, but now it seems more like a problem many countries and leaders struggle to solve. Vaccination is also a workplace issue. Right after the pandemic started, employers began wondering what would happen once the vaccines arrived.
Would it be mandatory? Would the government create inoculation incentives that would save companies from encouraging staff to take a shot? How would they manage situations wherein employees wouldn’t take part in an immunization program?
These are only some of the concerns HR departments and employers will have to address. Whether the staff is working on-site or from home, they will have a significant role in aiding inoculation.
For example, some retailers are already creating financial stimulus to encourage their workers to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But as the world leaders secure new doses, it becomes a challenge all organizations and human resources professionals will soon have to think about.
4. OFFICE CULTURE
We are witnessing the evolution of workplaces, and it’s not going to be a smooth process. Although remote work was a trend that would eventually transform the workplace as we know it, the pandemic accelerated it.
But whether it’s on-site or virtual, every work environment requires a strong, stable, and positive company culture.
It comes as no surprise that 88 percent of employees think that’s the key to business success and 94 percent of employers share that opinion. Company culture drives the values, identity, and mission of every business. Besides, it gives workers something to rely on.
Tumultuous times tend to disrupt the office culture and cause disharmony. COVID-19 will likely force many company cultures to take new forms or even directions. In a continuously changing world and workplaces, different decisions, procedures, and objectives emerge frequently. Employees could feel lost in that kind of environment, without anything to latch on to and find comfort.
Now more than ever, workers need stability, something familiar and secure they can turn to. They need to have a sense of belonging no matter if they work in offices or from home. That is why one of the principal HR challenges will be to find efficient strategies to reinforce company culture and keep it relevant and steady.
ADAPTABILITY AND REINVENTION
HR is the backbone of every business, and they should aim to serve as a moral compass for their company in times of disruption and transformation. Their role is to lead by example and encourage adaptability while aligning procedures with the organizational values and objectives.
The COVID-19 era requires reinvention of strategies, approaches, and practices. But it’s an opportunity for HR professionals to demonstrate their influence on making businesses resilient and successful.
IMPLEMENTING AN EFFECTIVE HUMAN RESOURCE INFORMATION SYSTEM (HRIS)
To aid HR in its daunting tasks and responsibilities, an effective Human Resource Information System must be properly implemented. For a complete HRIS that can handle all your HR requirements, choose Everything at Work HRIS and Payroll System.