Challenges of HR And Its Shift Post COVID-19 Pandemic
Challenges are sure to arise in every business and every job role. It is well illustrated in HR’s challenges, making it one of the most demanding corporate positions. However, it is also essential since it provides us with the motivation to learn more and hone our abilities.
The hurdles that HR personnel face differs every day and helps them be better professionals. These can range from company norms, employee grievances, new hires, etc. However, amidst these numerous obstacles, some HR challenges are more distinct.
Christian Vetter, CEO of HRForecast, highlighted the unanticipated HR challenges that will prove to be a big problem in the near future.
The last few years that included the COVID-19 pandemic pushed significant changes in working patterns. We've seen such phenomena as Great Resignation and quiet quitting when employees work their bare minimum to stay afloat and don't get dismissed. All of them come down to one thing: employees started to pay attention to their mental health and put it above everything else. The future workforce no longer focuses on building a career no matter what; they appreciate consistency in their career paths and the opportunity to stay flexible and remote. It is the biggest HR challenge we'll face soon, and we must be prepared to meet those requirements.
One can address these problems as fundamental that every person in this field needs to master. After all, the success of a company depends a lot on the human resource department. This is because they are in charge of the most valuable asset in business; the workforce.
Therefore, to handle this enormous responsibility, an HR professional must understand the job’s everyday challenges and solutions. Here are six of the HR challenges in the business world today and how to approach them.
HR Challenges and How to Approach Them
1. Rules and Regulations
This is one of the top priorities of a human resource specialist; compliance with government rules. In the dynamic business space, changes are the only constant. Therefore, a company needs to be in full accordance with it.
So, you must always be one with these rules and also ensure that the company follows them. Failure to do so can result in hefty penalties and fines. It will not only result in extra expenses but also tarnish the company’s reputation. This will later affect hiring and retaining the workforce.
Approach: To ensure this, all HR teams must continuously refer to the governing corporate rules in their respective country. This is different for every country. For example- if you are in the US, you must always check on the US Department of Labor for updated regulations.
Hiring is one of the first things that come to mind while thinking about human resources. Though this is not the only one, it is undoubtedly an essential aspect of the work. A company’s success depends a lot on its workforce.
So, it is crucial to have the best hiring strategies in the labor market at play to employ the best. While doing so, one must not only focus on competency. There are many other things: cultural fit, employee persona, career goals,
etc., that an HR professional must look out for.
Approach: To find the right hire, the recruiting team should check up on many things. Some of these are skills tests, past work experience, future goals of the candidates, and employee persona. In implementing these, recruitment tools are a great help in this matter.
Due to the fast-paced business world, it is also not uncommon for HR teams to hire a third party in this process. These third parties are specialists in staffing that place temporary or permanent hires in companies whenever necessary.
3. Changes in Company Rules
Changes are never easy, but it is the nature of the business space. To stay afloat, a company must adapt, and this means bringing about changes. It is safe to assume that the workforce won’t accept all these changes with pure support.
Sometimes, these changes may bring favoritism in the workplace, new hardships in work, disrupt the team balance, etc. Therefore, the HR team needs to ensure these shifts in rule come about smoothly in these times.
Approach: You must be transparent in your company rules to tackle this HR challenge. Instead of bringing a change abruptly, it is better to put the new rules through trial with a grace period. It will help smooth things in the workforce. It will also give them time to adjust to the changes as well.
Also, emphasize the benefits of the change and how a shift in the company’s working can help the employees.
4. Employee Training
Employee training and development programs are a big part of workforce grooming. Training is vital as it helps cut the cost of bringing in new specialists for every new opening that may arise. It also helps improve employee motivation.
The most common problem associated with this aspect is the resources required for training the team members. Therefore, it is crucial to find the right course and person to teach a workforce. Failure to do so will only cost extra money with no fruition at all.
Approach: One of the easiest ways to get around this HR challenge is by implementing a mentorship program for seniors and juniors. It works by having your senior executives coach the junior, and this has a twofold advantage.
First, by mentoring the juniors, the senior executives can enhance their communication skills. This will help ascertain their leadership style and skills for the future. Secondly, the juniors get guided by industry experts in a cost-effective method with nearly no extra expenses.
Compensation is an area that HR personnel gets questioned most frequently. Yet, it is a big part of keeping an employee happy. Here, one must be careful to keep an individual motivated and keep the payroll costs in check at the same time. You must be extremely cautious here.
Approach: Compensation doesn’t always have to be about salary. Instead, you can design different employee rewards and recognition programs. It will compensate for your employee’s hard work, minus a continual rise in the payroll.
It is because integrating a rewards program doesn’t require adding to a worker’s regular paycheck. Instead, it is a gesture of employee appreciation for a job well done. As a result, it will motivate your employees and improve employee engagement at the same time.
6. Employee Retention
The last one on our list today is the problem of employee retention. It is a significant problem because as harsh as hiring, the same is retaining one. With a wide variety of employment options today, employees now have many available opportunities.
It means, if you don’t treat them well, there are plenty of other options that will. It is why employee attrition is becoming a real menace to companies everywhere. This turnover not only harms the working environment and productivity but also increases costs as well.
Approach: In retention, the first few days of onboarding are crucial because, as they say, the first impression is the last. A study shows that hires with proper onboarding procedures are 58% more likely to serve up to three years than ones that don’t.
Therefore, it is vital to carry out proper processes in the first few days of the hire. This includes having a structured plan, proper job description, designation playbook with duties, mentor matching, feedback.
The Top HR Challenges That Managers Are Facing Due To The COVID-19
HR professionals have certainly not imagined the challenges that COVID-19 has dawned on them. The uncertainty has crushed the economy, employees are in stressful situations, and HR professionals try their best to keep everything in perspective and aligned. But is it as easy as it sounds?
Zubair Bhura, a human resources manager has highlighted few points on how COVID has evolved the whole HR departement despite the new challenges.
One of the most noticeable trends in today’s world is behavioural change. People want flexibility in terms of when they work and where they work. There are organisations that have understood this really well and have adjusted their operating models accordingly. This acts a strong retention and attraction driver. In some industries, there are roles which cannot be performed from home and require employees to be present at the workplace. Other sectors could have a combination of roles that can be performed remotely (support functions) and roles that cannot (eg; production/factory work). Organizations navigate through these challenges by identifying and adopting a fit-for-purpose model that best suits their organization’s structure and strategy. In all scenarios, HR plays a pivotal role in policy design, shaping culture and managing employee expectations and morale.
The sudden shift in work culture has brought new challenges for HR. The top priority for HR professionals is now crisis response and how to keep the employees engaged, provide the right communication channels and tools for remote work, and more.
Related: Managing The Crisis: A Brief Guide On Crisis Management
1. Mental Health and Wellbeing
The sudden shift in work culture took a toll on overall employee health and wellbeing. Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues have always been there, and it is no new story.
Organizations have always been initiating wellness programs and providing employees with security, health benefits, and flexibility to help them overcome their health issues. But the sudden COVID-19 outbreak has brought the employees’ mental problems to the front seat.
When you have your workers working in an office work environment, you understand their pulse and sensitivity, which helps you immensely tackle the issues. But employees going remote, communication routes have been significantly compromised, leaving the managers clueless or less conscious. In a recent COVID-19 pulse survey, HR professionals across the globe responded health and wellbeing of the workers be a major concern.
Related: How To Boost The Mental Health Of Remote Workers?
2. Managing Remote Work
The transition to remote work culture is not as seamless as it seems. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, less than 50% of companies had a remote work program. In addition, banks, regulated industries, and many financial services companies did not encourage remote working. Now almost all of them are rushing to build remote work strategies.
This has led to many undiscovered problems. HR managers are trying to build seamless routes and strategies to overcome the challenges that it brings. Strategies are no more designed periodically or in advance but in real-time. The focus on employee productivity and engagement has shifted to immediate responses and diagnosis. To provide employees with the right tools and gather real-time updates from them from time to time to untangle the intricacies and offer support.
Here is a podcast from the thought leader and a mental coach, Shashi kalyanpur on 'Managing mental health of employees working from home.'
3. Lack of Agility
One of the major reasons why HR teams are struggling is due to the lack of agility.
Many HR teams are not designed for agility. And this affecting the HR professional big time. In this crisis, it is critical to respond fast and move quickly. But there are many approvals to take before taking action. This slows down the process of collecting data and take immediate measures that a crisis demands.
So to become more agile in their approach and re-prioritize company goals, and have the right communication and alignment among middle management and executives is the need of the hour now.
4. Employee Communication
Communication is another major challenge that is on the priority list. Communication, in itself, is a critical aspect that needs to be taken into account whether or not the workforce is working remotely. Without the proper communication channels, it becomes difficult to manage a workforce.
For example, the COVID-19 crisis had the HR professionals on their toes. It kept them looking for the right remote working tools that suit their culture. Though tools like Zoom or Slack are commonly used to meet the workforce’s
needs, it certainly is not enough to get everyone on the same page.
More or less the HR teams are doing their best by sharing-
- Updates regarding measures adopted by the organization,
- Updates from business leaders via email or video,
- Links to valuable external information sources,
- Ongoing communication on HR policies related to the crisis,
- And through health talks and training sessions.
Related: How To Overcome the Communication Barriers for Remote Employees
Uncertainty can paralyze anyone. The daunting feeling of not knowing what the future holds or what measures to take to sustain organizational operations is a huge challenge. Unfortunately, we all are more or less affected by uncertainty.
Employees are affected mentally, not knowing what the future holds for them. The HR teams are struggling to put everything in alignment. To respond to the crisis and develop effective measures and strategies for all.
6. Employee Engagement
The ultimate company goal is the productivity of its employees. However, it becomes challenging to keep the employees engaged when they are working remotely and that too, in a crisis. Internal communication is compromised, and keeping everyone on the same page becomes tough.
With remote working, it is difficult to follow a routine and even accept a systematic workflow. When the teams are cross-functional, you have little power to manage them. Not updating them regularly or not arranging meetings/ sessions can impact their morale to a great extent.
Over to you
If you are an HR professional or manager dealing with these challenges, we would be glad to hear from you.
You can write to us in the email below and give us more insights into the HR challenges and measures you are taking to overcome them. We would love to update our article with the valuable information you would have and keep the communication thread going for all.
Related: HR Priorities & Active Business Partnering in the times of COVID-19