Updated: Mar 2
From the start of the pandemic, so many aspects of workplaces changed. One department in particular? Human resources. Many areas of businesses took a hard hit after some moved daily operations to an online setting, and HR departments played a big role in orchestrating the ins and outs of this new environment. The transition has not been easy for everyone, and there was a steep learning curve for all involved. For instance, how were workplace issues resolved in a remote setting? How were communications facilitated? The list goes on.
HR is constantly evolving, and this marks one of many changes that is bound to affect the industry. However in current times, we consider the following questions. What has changed? What has stayed the same? These are all questions that are addressed below for those who are interested in learning more.
What Has Changed?
Given the difficulties associated with time, this has led companies to enhance their support for their employees. This is a new situation that no one has ever really faced before, so naturally, things did not go off to a smooth start. However, with each day in this new workplace, people learn how to adapt with the circumstances put in front of them. With that being said, during all of this, it is essential that employees know they have managers, management, and employers who support them.
Support may range in a variety of different forms however, so companies have had to gauge what support would be of most benefit to their employees. For instance, mental health has become more and more important in today’s society, especially during such an isolating and uncertain time, which has encouraged employers to level up that form of support to meet the needs of employees. This also means being more considerate of employees’ circumstances, and increasing employee empathy.
Another aspect of HR that has changed is work processes. According to Holly Maurer-Klein, vice president of HR/Advantage Advisory, “With COVID-19, you needed to come up with a policy and get it approved in three days” (Harbert). Every day of the pandemic was the same, but different, each day presenting new challenges in the same online setting. Other ways work processes and policies have changed are in terms of work schedules and flexibility. With some employees remaining remote and others shifting back to in-person work, it is important for managers and HR departments to be on the same page with their employees. This also ties back to departments of management being more supportive, and recognizing that especially in these circumstances, it may be easier for some employees to continue working remotely or return to the office, all depending on their personal situations. For instance, an employee may only be able to go in-person five days a week, two days a week, or not at all. This is why communication and knowledge of these changes are key, since the workplace is not what it was before.
The Future of HR
However, after considering the changes that have been made to HR in the last two years, what will stay and what will continue to evolve? This involves expanding certain horizons, such as how recruitment and hiring is viewed. Virtual hiring and onboarding is not likely to disappear completely, and it is important to know how to leverage it for the future. There may be future situations where it may be necessary and even useful to conduct this form of hiring, and of course, there are benefits to it as well. One great benefit of remote work is that it attracts a much larger pool of potential employees. To learn more about virtual hiring and onboarding, refer to one of our articles here.
Another trend that has come about and is likely to remain is the increase of automation. The pandemic has forced a lot of processes to be virtual or with as little human interaction as possible, leading to less and less available in-person jobs. A lot of companies have also adapted accordingly to modify their processes so limited human interference or supervision is needed, again perpetuating this rapidly increasing trend. According to McKinsey, it is approximated that nearly a quarter of workers will need to consider alternate career paths -- as automation threatens the longevity of their jobs (McKinsey). For more information on reskilling and upskilling processes, check out our blog article here.
It is now important to understand that these trends and changes are unlikely to fade away immediately; in fact, some may be with us for the foreseeable future. However, if there is one thing that people have learned and learned to do well during this situation is adapt, which is something we will have to continue to do.
Instead of viewing these new changes and evolutions in the HR field as a hindrance, look at how they can unite and bring companies together for the better. Sure, a lot of challenges have been presented during these times, but it has also led us to focus on other important issues. As businesses come and go, HR departments will do the same, so it is key to be wary of changes and to have a contingency plan in place.
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Bahsoun, R., Bin Braik, K., & Kassis, B. How the new normal is shaping the future of hr. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.pwc.com/m1/en/publications/how-the-new-normal-shaping-future-hr.html
Brower, T. (2020, June 7). HR’s compelling new role in response to the coronavirus. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2020/06/07/hrs-compelling-new-role-in-response-to-the-coronavirus/?sh=3c34203d7f8e
Harbert, T. (2021, September 1). The pandemic has expanded the role of hr. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/fall2021/pages/pandemic-expands-role-of-hr.aspx
McKinsey Global Institute (2021, 18 February). The future of work after covid-19. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/future-of-work/the-future-of-work-after-covid-19
Vora, V. (2021, March 16). Evolution of hr processes: challenges and solutions amid the covid-19 pandemic. Retrieved November 12, 2021, from https://hr.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/workplace-4-0/evolution-of-hr-processes-challenges-and-solutions-amid-the-covid-19-pandemic/81518989