During the last year, the role of HR has shifted significantly, and teams have had to re-think their strategy in some key areas that include employee wellbeing, managing remote work and employee engagement.
HR teams need to quickly create more effective measures and strategies for supporting their employees.
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought employee mental health and wellbeing to the forefront of the HR agenda. Employees no longer have clear boundaries between work and home. They are grappling with the uncertainty of not knowing what the future holds. They face the possibility of reduced working hours or job losses, family and childcare responsibilities while being expected to ‘show up’ and deliver results. This has taken huge a toll on the mental health and wellbeing of employees. HR teams need to respond effectively to the health crisis inside a business and develop effective measures to support employees. This will be imperative for businesses going forward.
Managing remote work and the impact on employee communication
HR teams must become more agile in re-prioritizing company goals, to have the right message with the right alignment at the right time.
The transition to remote work is not always seamless and HR teams are still trying to build strategies to overcome the associated challenges. They have had to develop new policies, processes and procedures in real-time to enable employee productivity and diagnose and respond to employee needs, all while juggling a multitude of ‘normal’ HR responsibilities. The effect that remote work has had on communication channels has also been pronounced. Without the right communication channels in place, it becomes difficult to manage the direction of the workforce. Despite the spike in MS Teams and Zoom meetings, business updates, sending of links to valuable resources to employees and communication on changes to HR polices, it has not always been enough to get employees on the same page. HR has had to become more agile in their approach. They are required to lead more engaging, collaborative and innovative discussions with leaders to ensure company goals are re-prioritized and communicated effectively. There is a definite need to re-align individual and team goals and to get employees to recommit to business imperatives.
HR can use communication to improve employee engagement.
Businesses must now reconnect and re-engage the way they relate to customers, clients and employees. Employee communication remains the most essential tool to maintain employee engagement. It develops strong working relationships among employees and higher business results are achieved. Businesses that offer clear, precise communication can swiftly build trust among employees. HR teams have a strong role to play in coming up with a clear and communicable message, in formalising team processes, clarifying team goals, and helping build solutions to foster safe discussions between employees and the business.
The impact of COVID-19 will continue to have a ripple effect on the way we think about work. HR teams must remain vigilant and maintain their agility and responsiveness to continually balance the needs of the business and the workforce. HR will continue to play a key role in bridging the gap between employees and the business’ strategic objectives. They continue to be at the heart of the organisation.