Will the HR Practices remain the same?
Is Corona Pandemic the ‘Grey Rhino’ of this century?
People have started to call the pandemic a “Grey Rhino” indicating highly probable but neglected threats that have an enormous impact. This fashionable term was used by author Michele Wucker after the 2012 Greek financial crisis. Hundreds of millions of people have lived through lockdowns. Many have made the abrupt shift to working from home; millions have lost jobs. We don’t know when, or if, our societies might return to normal – or what kind of scars the pandemic will leave. The days when people reserved Mondays to be cursed, the melancholy has shifted to all the days. Complaining in a perverse culture won’t help as the job scenario look dull. The relentless juggling of office work and household duties have left employees aghast and looking for doctors for their backache and mental health remedy.
HR professionals have certainly not imagined the challenges that COVID-19 has dawned on them. Critical sectors under essential services continue to operate sometimes with a reduced workforce, such as healthcare, energy, oil and gas, banking, media to name a few. These organizations are taking necessary measures to provide support for the on-site workers which includes the following– Distribution of sanitizers, masks, and necessary Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs), based on the type of role– Multiple time slots during lunch and break hours to minimize the rush– Fumigation and deep cleaning of individual workspace after every shift operation and daily fumigation of transport buses– Spacing out the employees in warehouses and workstations to ensure social distancing.
For others, it is normal to see anxiety creeping in the minds. Will we go to the office again – and, if so, how often? What impact will a Hybrid way of working have on communication, connection, and creation? Will work-from-home be the great leveler in terms of gender equality and diversity? And what will work mean if our offices are virtual and we lose those day-to-day social interactions?
In these turbulent times, organizations are rediscovering their sense of purpose, innovating rapidly, and getting closer to the communities. Mastering deep, meaningful, and human connections with customers and colleagues/employees have become even more important to business leaders. Firms that invest in trust-building and emotional connect and kindness now shall secure long-term loyalty and ethical allegiance of their employees.
A new era of Flexi-working?
As employees started logging in remotely, HR functions stepped up to transform brick-and-mortar offices into virtual workplaces almost overnight. Guidelines to ensure that employees could manage WFH seamlessly and securely had to be quickly defined and disseminated. Those employees who had issues like disability, career-break for personal reasons, and creative persons who can work as freelancers, contractual will find the right fit in this era.
Communication is a major challenge that needs to overcome. Communication, in itself, is a critical aspect that needs to be taken into account whether or not the workforce is working remotely. Arranging tools for remote workers like- Zoom, Skype, Google hangouts and many more should be in right place. Managing a robust attendance to seamless workflow is not an easy task and the next big challenge. Continuous monitoring of productivity and appraisal plans are next inline
A growing number of industry leaders hold the opinion that the remote working culture is here to stay, and this figure can be higher for organizations that are looking at reducing investments in real estate to offset losses incurred during the lockdown. This would necessitate digitalization and higher adoption of technology and resizing and transforming brick and mortar workplaces into technology-enabled virtual ones. A significant benefit arising from this model is that managers will now be able to find the most suitable candidate after receiving a higher number of job applications from all over the country – since recruitment would become location agnostic.
Future of the workplace
HR will now need to look ahead and make changes to policies, structures, and practices to align with the new way of working. The development and implementation of these changes call for collaboration and working closely with all the stakeholders in the organization. However, their challenges are far from over, as the ‘new’ normal way of working throws up several questions that need the answer before they begin planning. Revised job descriptions will need to be framed to accommodate part-time, full-time, and remote working definitions. New methods will be required to monitor the productivity of employees working remotely. The performance management system may need a complete overhaul, with new targets, expectations, and rewards. The revised policies and guidelines should incorporate the process of resource availability and utilization for their employees to be able to work remotely. HR managers will also need to brainstorm and have innovative ideas to keep the organization’s culture highly spirited – both for existing employees as well as for new incumbents.