As the past few months have seen COVID-19 spread across the entire world, many organizations have transitioned to an entirely remote workforce. Lives have been put on hold with everything from education to graduation shifting to the virtual world. As the states begin the process of reopening in the United States a lot of workplaces still continue to work remotely.
The world post COVID-19 holds little to no resemblance to the world before it. The Hr department will be no different. As the workplace changes rapidly, the HR department is also transforming itself to better help the most important asset for any organization, its employees.
Here are a few changes that can be expected from the HR departments as well as companies once normal life resumes and employees return to offices.
- More Remote Work
While states are beginning the reopening process in the United States, a Zapier study reports over half of all US employees continue to work remotely. While there are definite challenges to working from home, a lot of employees have enjoyed the reduced commute, greater time flexibility. The same study reports that over 80 percent of people report that they could better manage coworker interruptions when working from home and 60 percent of people believe they are more productive when working from home.
From the perspective of companies too, with the economic downturn, they will be looking at providing remote work options to reduce infrastructure expenditure as a way to reduce costs.
However, we don’t count on people solely working remotely or the concept of offices entirely disappearing. Some people miss the chance of stepping out of their homes, having in-person interactions with their colleagues. Chances are that in post-COVID world companies and HR departments will be more open and flexible with providing telecommuting options to employees.
- Altered hiring and budget plans
The end of year 2019 saw record low levels of unemployment and company budget and hiring plans for the coming year were made accordingly. However, in June 2020, the unemployment rate in the United States is 11% with millions of people losing their jobs due to the pandemic. Companies have also had to take a hit economically and as such the HR department would have to significantly alter their hiring and budget plans.
With companies implementing cost-cutting measures, HR departments will prefer looking internally since hiring and training new employees will be a more expensive proposition. Companies might also institute a hiring freeze till the world and the economy are more stable.
- Greater emphasis on company culture
If this pandemic has taught organizations something, it is definitely the importance of having a robust company culture in place. During normal circumstances, when the economy is more stable and employees are all working in the same office, it is important to maintain the culture and keep employees motivated and engaged. But the weaker company culture does begin to show cracks when employees are all working remotely.
While cost-cutting is the need of the hour, it is important for companies to keep investing in employee appreciation and engagement programs and keep up employee motivation and company performance.
- Increased wellness programs
The pandemic has caused considerable physical, mental, and financial stress for people, and as the world is going to take some time to recover from it. Your employees are going to need help with de-stressing and getting back to a normal world. According to a study by Mercer, 19% of companies are looking to offer greater financial support to their employees and 24% are planning on expanding their mental health support program. These resources are invaluable during these difficult times and will be much appreciated by your entire workforce.
- Modified Sick leave
Now more than ever it is important for people to stay at home if they are unwell. The Hr department and leaders of every organization need to provide their employees with paid sick leave. This is important not just for the health of your sick employees but also for the safety and wellbeing of your entire organization. With a pandemic, you can’t take chances of sick employees coming in exposing your entire workforce because they can’t afford to lose pay.
Every single organization in the country has been impacted due to COVID-19 and unfortunately it is far from over. While no one can predict exactly when and how the world will return to normalcy, companies need to begin planning and preparing for all contingencies for a return back to the office. Planning well in advance will only help the HR department make the transition smooth for everyone.