Six Ways the COVID-19 Pandemic has Transformed HR’s Role

HR services

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced rapid change and adaptation on companies across the nation. It has served as a catalyst for change that has transformed what work look likes on a scale that hasn’t been seen in decades. The role of human resources departments has certainly not been exempt from these changes.

In fact, many human resources professionals have seen their roles completely redefined in recent months. Here is a brief overview of some of the biggest ways that COVID-19 has transformed HR services.

1. Embracing Adaptability

It’s no secret that companies who are adaptable and flexible are in a much better position to deal with the changes required by the pandemic. This trait is going to be increasingly important in the ‘new normal’ for workplaces, which will likely be characterized by not having a normal at all. Rather than going back to a state of normal, workplaces will likely be marked by constant – and even abrupt – changes to daily operations. For HR professionals, this means there will be an increased focus on retooling and retraining the workforce to adapt to new circumstances quickly. Tools and platforms that promote e-learning and digital collaboration are being adopted at an unprecedented scale, and this trend shows no indication of slowing down. It will be up to HR departments to help teams in the workplace adjust, adapt, and learn so that the company as a whole can evolve better than its competitors.

2. Creating Culture

Another tremendous hallmark of the pandemic for many companies was the shift to remote working arrangements, and many companies have noticed a corresponding erosion in their company culture with the absence of physical proximity. To implement successful remote working arrangements, HR professionals must play a key role in fostering trust and transparency. Transparency in the workplace fosters tangible benefits. The greater trust that you are delivering accurate, useful information, the more faiththey will have in your and they in turn will show themselves to be trustworthy.  Some ways your HR team of specialists can foster this is by:

  • Explaining changes and companywide decisions.
  • Having a clear and concise work process for each department.
  • Hire equally motivated and skilled individuals for each department or organization.
  • Getting feedback from employees and creating a safe environment for them to express needs, improvements or grievances.
  • Give appropriate responses to challenging situations, using honestly and positivity.
  • Build a community within the organization. Simple events like pot lucks, one on one lunches monthly or birthday celebrations for acknowledgment can be great barrier removal tools.

In many instances, HR is playing a far greater role in facilitating and coordinating effective channels of communication to enhance team dynamics and create a new company culture. HR has transformed to help build company purpose and community under conditions where physical proximity may not be possible.

3. Focusing on Wellness

For many employees, balancing working from home with other responsibilities has proven to be incredibly challenging. On top of that, the anxiety, fear, and stress that stem from the pandemic can be overwhelming. The role of HR has increasingly seen a shift toward greater involvement in promoting employee wellness. Helping employees navigate the daily challenges of an ever-changing work environment is one of the best ways that a company can ensure that their employees are ready to perform well and succeed in their daily duties. Implementing the use of an EAP (Employee assistance program) designed to help employees resolve challenges, can be an extremely effective tool to deal with a broad range of issues that perhaps may not even be related to work. This proves invaluable when transitioning to a work at home position. Often connecting employees with tele-counseling, chat or even face-to-face asstance where applicable can help morale. An HR specialist can give you guidance on these types of benefits and appropriate ways to incorporate into your company culture while also protecting privacy.

Another way companies can help with stressors is to put out a monthly newsletter with recommendations and events to look forward to, your HR specialist can give you ideas to help your staff navigate challenges and can include:

  • A list of Apps such as Down Dog-for yoga, Calm-For Medititaion, or even Breath2Relax – Helps utilize breathing as a way of distressing.
  • An employee drive thru event to pickup a diffuser with a preffered essential oil, A plant in a neutral pot that has perhaps a pop of color, or even and at home craft kit that they can do with their families.
  • Offering the addition of a kneeling chair, yoga ball or wrist rest can make the difference in the comfort of sitting in their home.

4. Staffing the Company

The pandemic has ushered in many changes to the workplace, and unfortunately, not all of them are positive. The economic toll of quarantines and stay-in-place orders has led to dire financial situations for many companies. This has led to the need to lay off workers or implement hiring freezes. Some companies have even had to hire individuals with vastly different skillsets than they may have required in the past. Others have addressed staffing needs by bringing in temp or contract workers. For HR professionals, the staffing needs of the company are going to be a prominent concern for the foreseeable future.

5. Ensuring Compliance

Compliance can be incredibly challenging for HR departments, but the pandemic seems to have made compliance far more complicated. Many compliance concerns need to be addressed in remote working situations. Additionally, many companies accepted federal grant or loan funds to help make up for lost income. These funds often come with reporting requirements. Compliance will be challenging in the coming years, and it will be up to HR professionals to ensure that companies meet all of their various, ever-changing compliance needs.

6. Creating Vision

Many companies have recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented a unique opportunity to redefine their business. Everything is changing, including how people live, work, learn, shop and eat. There are many opportunities to change business models to meet the way every other aspect of life is transforming. HR professionals will play a key role in helping leadership teams understand this change and improve their operations, services, or products to meet demand better.

The workplace of tomorrow is here, and it is marked by an emphasis on efficiency and adaptability. Some companies are better equipped than others to weather the changes that will come. But in nearly all scenarios, HR professionals play a much more prominent and integral role in helping companies retain a productive and engaging workforce, achieve profitability and ensure continued success.

CA HR Services/Nationwide HR Services, Inc. specializes in working with small and medium-sized companies throughout California and the United States as an outsourced HR option to manage small office HR needs or to perform a variety of HR functions including recruiting/hiring; benefits; payroll;, safety and workers’ compensation; coaching/discipline; sexual harassment training;, drafting employee handbooks, policies, and procedures that meet local, state and federal labor law requirements and more. How can we assist you with your HR needs?

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