Provided below are four examples of insights into the current efforts organizations are implementing to address COVID related issues; and another set of four insights into how human resource organizations are evolving/will evolve their strategies to meet future workforce needs, i.e., talent retention, recruitment, learning, etc.
Current Efforts Organizations are implementing to Address COVID-19 Related Issues
1. Expanding Remote Working
- The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated remote working across large organizations. Gartner’s recent poll revealed that 48% of employees are expected to continue working remotely during and after COVID-19 versus 30% before.
- As organizations transition to remote working and examine their staff’s critical competencies, employees are expected to increase digital collaboration and alter employee experience strategies.
- Some strategies organizations may use include considering changes to performance goal-setting and staff appraisals for a remote context.
- Facebook, Twitter, Shopify are examples of big tech companies that have implemented large scale remote working operations. For example, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg expects as many as 50% of Facebook employees to work remotely within the next five to 10 years. Shopify also announced it would keep its offices closed until 2021.
2. Paying Contingent Workforce Impacted by COVID-19
- The Gartner poll also shows that companies will increase their use of contingent workforce to achieve more flexibility in workforce planning and managing post-COVID-19.
- Other organizations are considering introducing new job models seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, including “talent sharing and 80% pay for 80% work.” Research also shows that “32% of organizations are replacing full-time employees with contingent workers as a cost-saving measure.”
- Microsoft and Facebook are two examples of large tech organizations paying contingent workers affected by the pandemic. The pandemic has also forced these major tech companies that outsource most of their labor to bring more technical staff in-house.
- The dual-class worker system keeps more technical and product-oriented workers as full-time for the main company, while the rest are outsourced.
3. Crisis Management Teams
- Many large companies have created crisis management teams focusing on specific geographic regions.
- The teams often meet to discuss and develop policies and share information with company leaders, managers, and front-line employees about managing COVID-19.
- The teams also focus on establishing and implementing new management protocols and business continuity plans to guide current business operations and forecast future responses.
- Some protocols include “conducting virtual businesses, moving virtual operations to safer regions, documenting business-critical functions,” etc.
- Large organizations have developed reporting protocols for employees diagnosed with COVID-19, such as reporting confirmed cases, isolate employees diagnosed at work, request employees to log their contacts with other employees.
4. New Guidelines for Office Spaces
- As part of the measures to curb COVID-19, large organizations, including workspace companies like WeWork, are de-densifying office spaces.
- Leaders are developing new operational guidelines for office spaces. The new protocols include establishing guidelines on air quality, cleanliness, density, and safety.
- Other companies are giving their employees the choice to return. Some are starting with 25% of their workforce to return and scaling up. Leaders of real estate companies are optimizing spaces by monitoring staggered attendance and split-team strategies.
- Other large organizations are constructing new property with technologies like “proactive and predictive health indexes for buildings, people traffic trackers, timed ticketing, and remote temperature reporting.”
- WeWork, for instance, is de-densifying its spaces for professional distancing. The company is also improving the interior airflow of its spaces, monitoring regular cleanings, and adding sanitizers and hands-free wipes throughout common spaces.
Human Resource Evolving Roles to meet Future Work Demands
1. Managing Talent during the Pandemic
- One of the new roles for human resource organizations is managing talent during the COVID-19 pandemic. The human resource function is integral in having the right talent in the correct roles and at the right times.
- A recent study of 600 executives across 20 industries revealed that companies whose talent and business strategies are aligned are more likely to “retain top talent and achieve superior performance.”
- The human resources function require fundamental shifts to manage talent during the pandemic. Some parts of large organizations are shuttering, while others are ramping up.
- To successfully manage and retain talent during the pandemic, the human resource function must strategically redeploy talent, remain flexible, reskill, and even tap into the gig economy fast and effectively.
- As the economy reopens, all companies require employees who can quickly “invent, solve problems, and experiment.” In this regard, organizations need systems to help tap into these skill sets.
- Overall, the employee value equation is changing, and the human resource function is the best tool to facilitate robust employer branding and create a unique case to attract talent.
2. Remote Teams Employee Engagement
- Employee engagement has become challenging for the human resource function when managing people working remotely. During the pandemic, the physical workspace cannot bring employees together, add to their focus, or develop camaraderie.
- In this regard, managing full or partial remote teams is a new skillset expected to transcend the pandemic. Human resource organizations are expected to adjust how work gets done in response to the new work from home policy.
- The human resource can establish and recommend best practices for engagement, facilitated by all kinds of creative approaches.
- Equally, the human resource can use quick surveys and feedback loops to monitor employee engagement and provide leaders with a barometer of where to focus on, motivate, and keep the teams on board.
3. HR’s Increased Focus on Key Workers
- The COVID-19 has exposed the key workers in every organization, especially those needed to keep a business afloat during the pandemic.
- The most targeted employees are the smart ones, those who know how to solve business and customer problems, and those that customers cannot function without.
- On that note, the human resource structure needs to shift from focusing more on strategic relationships with top executives and act as the connector for the business, understand the prevailing crisis and the company situation from front line employees to the executive.
- These shifts must lay out clear plans to fill communication and skill gaps at every organization level and develop inclusive career and streamlined information flows.
4. Demonstrating Fairness and a Passion for Employees
- According to a Harvard Business Review report, human resource leaders need to make their company values foundational because fear and panic elicit knee-jerk responses during crises.
- Under intense pressure, most leaders, including human resource managers, can make autocratic decisions without considering their impact on workers.
- In this regard, post COVID-19 human resource managers can eliminate this instinct by emphasizing fairness and a passion for their staff.
- Human resource managers need to guide their organizations to adopt a mindset of complexity, i.e., returning to the founding organizational values and allowing them to act as a filter for decision-making during crises.
- According to research, this concept can profoundly transform organizations, because 88% of employees believe that “positive work culture is the result of a value- and mission-oriented foundation.”