Human Resources (HR) is arguably one of the most changed area of business as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a short space of time, business’s working models had to dramatically change in response to the crisis.
Senior teams and HR leaders have had to completely re-evaluate and rethink about how they ensure staff remain safe, happy, motivated and engaged in a turbulent, unsettled period. At the same time, they have had to create and implement policies and processes to future-proof the business for the years to come. From working with new virtual technologies to enable remote working models, to creating an online company culture which maintains employee motivation, dedication and high levels of retention; HR teams are having to navigate complex waters.
Many of these changes are here to stay and will make up the ‘new normal’. The landscape of HR has changed and will continue to do so over the coming years. Here are a few areas where we will see this change indefinitely.
Whilst not a completely new concept, there is no doubt that the pandemic rapidly accelerated the trend of virtual interview processes. When news of the virus first broke, reports suggested that video interviews skyrocketed up by 67 per cent as a solution to the impending lockdowns.
This trend is most certainly set to continue into 2021 and beyond as it offers many positive benefits to both candidates and employers. This includes reduced travel costs, the ability to interview and hire outside of usual location boundaries and, of course, keeping safe whilst COVID-19 is still present. Undoubtedly it will have its setbacks, and this is where HR managers must work especially hard to ensure a positive candidate experience to not only make the candidate feel appreciated but also to protect the business’ brand reputation.
As so often said, your candidate today may be your customer tomorrow. HR teams must ensure seamless communication throughout the hiring process, offering a human touch and ensuring that the company has a positive rejection process in place.
A greater emphasis on wellbeing
The coronavirus pandemic has also signalled an unprecedented mental health crisis. Studies have shown a significant rise in the number of people battling with issues such as anxiety, PTSD, self-harm, depression and suicidal thinking as a direct result of COVID-19. This decline in mental health and wellbeing lies in several factors such as prolonged periods of isolation, job insecurity, redundancy and burnout.
Shockingly, it has been found that as many as 42 per cent of businesses have seen staff leave because they experienced a lack of emotional support prior to the pandemic. HR teams and senior leaders have had to improve support for employee wellbeing over the past year to retain talent, as well as continue to attract future candidates. . Over half of UK workers (57 per cent) said a supportive mental health policy would entice them into joining a new company.
HR leaders will undoubtedly be looking to put greater focus, time and investment into mental health support in 2021, creating better policies, stricter guidelines around mental health support for senior teams and introducing perks and benefits that are tailored to the wellbeing and care of staff such as counselling and rest days.
A seat at the top table
HR Zone summed up how the pandemic has altered the way many businesses see their employees “No matter what a company makes, what services it provides, what innovation it employs or what structure it adopts, people are at the heart of any business.” Leaders are much more aware of the need to protect, support and care for their people. And who was best to lead those discussions and implement the changes needed to make this happen? HR.
HR leaders now have a firm place at the top table. Not only can they continue to advise on future-proofing the business, its policies and its actions in the case of any further crises but, they are able to help create planned internal strategies to keep the business moving and growing efficiently. This could include improving Diversity and Inclusion efforts, upskilling and training employees to adapt to the evolving nature of business and helping to improve and/or maintain the business’s reputation.
HR has taken large strides forwards in the past nine months and will continue to do so for years to come. Of course, the nature of the virus means we can’t say for definite what the sector will look like but, there’s no doubt that it has changed for good. HR leaders will continue to play a more defined role in a company's success and implement the d changes many companies have needed for a long time, before the coronavirus crisis hit.