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Role of Human Resources in the Era of Work From Home

On 23 Dec, 2021 | No comments

Due to the pandemic, Human Resource teams in organisations across the globe had driven the implementation of ‘work from home’ almost overnight. Most HR professionals in India would agree that transitioning to working remotely was the easier part of their responsibilities. Once remote working capabilities were up and running, HR professionals had to develop strategies to handle other crucial activities such as hiring and onboarding, employee engagement and shaping the organisational culture.

Recruitment during Covid

Although salaries are booming in certain industries like tech and finance, organisations have realised that lucrative remunerations won’t be the only factor to attract exceptional talent.

Employee expectations have drastically evolved during the new normal.  They are looking to work in organisations that offer flexibility about working remotely. Some professionals prefer working 100% remotely, others want a hybrid model and there are those who wish to regress to the old normal.

Apart from this, they are looking to be associated with organisations that offer empathetic leadership, a fulfilling culture and enable work-life balance.

Therefore recruitment teams have to work closely with leadership to define an effective recruitment strategy. This would include positioning themselves as attractive workplaces, providing flexibility concerning worksites (remote, hybrid and onsite) and compensating employees with perks that support overall well-being

Hence, recruiters are updating their job postings with their action plans for the new normal. Interviews are largely conducted using virtual hiring technologies and the number of interview rounds is optimised.

Human resource management in 2021 involves organisations giving importance to diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I). Recruiters are jettisoning biases and focussing on building a diverse talent pipeline.

Employee engagement, well-being and effectiveness

One of the most vital imperative initiatives for HR professionals during the new normal is to deploy employee engagement practices for their remote workforce.

As per a survey conducted by McKinsey, employees working remotely felt that they were highly engaged, experienced a deeper positive impact on their daily tasks and enjoyed stronger well-being as compared to those working non-remotely.

However, according to a survey conducted by Monster, 69% of employees admitted experiencing burnout while working from home.

Hence, HR leaders in 2021 have been aspiring to offer holistic working experiences for their employees that prioritizes their wellbeing.

In the past employee, well-being was impacted primarily by safety and security. Over time, other themes such as trusting relationships, social cohesion and individual purpose have also begun to influence employee well-being.

Therefore, firms have been setting up daily team meetings and 1-1 checkins. These activities have empowered employees to set micro-goals and receive continuous feedback. By developing a ‘coaching approach’, leaders are able to motivate their teams, offer a sense of higher purpose, measure progress and improve productivity. 

At Prezi, employees are encouraged to have meetings that are not ‘live’. They also try to keep the average length of all their live meetings to 18 minutes. Leading firms like Google, Dropbox, Tinder and Apple have organised virtual innovative events such as mixology classes, interactive magic shows, virtual ramen cooking classes etc.

Other companies like The Creative Suite are promoting the concept of sending ‘care packages’ to the doorsteps of employees. These are curated as per a specific theme.

Organisations such as Linkedin and Jooble are also encouraging their employees to pursue side projects that align with their personal goals.

Leveraging platforms to manage a distributed workforce

A distributed workforce comprises employees working across multiple locations including satellite offices and homes. Although this trend existed before the pandemic occurred, the new normal has led to multiple organisations working with a distributed workforce.

Platforms are proving to be vital in managing a distributed workforce. These include teleconferencing tools, chat rooms, cloud-based file-sharing tools, screen-sharing software etc. There are also tools that combine all these offerings. For instance, Samparq enables a distributed workforce to conduct training, get instant feedback, connect with live field teams, share status messages etc.

Resetting work culture

Legendary management consultant Peter Drucker right said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”

Work culture in an organisation defines the implicit and explicit norms that exist within it. It determines the way employees communicate, behave and act. It clarifies what is encouraged and what is frowned upon.

A winning work culture develops when employees feel valued, are engaged and heard. Work culture plays a vital role in aligning organisational and employee goals. Hence, it is a fundamental growth driver for an organisation.

Across organisations, human resource teams have realised that working from home has caused “Zoom fatigue” among experienced employees. Recently hired individuals have felt completely disconnected. There have been reports of alienation and strained professional relationships.

When offices open up, business leaders will face a plethora of challenges related to work culture. For instance, certain employees may desire to only work remotely whereas others may prefer a hybrid model. Certain habits could have been formed while working from home that might have to be altered. Apart from this, norms and practices may have to be changed for teams to start working together again.

This requires significant transparency and clear communication. Leaders must have multiple conversations across different levels of the workforce to get insights on how to reset the work culture.

As restrictions are being lifted and employees begin returning to workplaces, certain Human Resource initiatives that were conceptualised during the pandemic are likely to continue. High performing talent is likely to make a beeline towards firms that evolve and embrace progressive HR practices. Needless to say, organisations that revert to the old ways would find it exceedingly difficult to get the right people on board.

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