Never Going Back: 7 Ways the Pandemic has Changed HR Forever

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David Rice
10/12/2020

HR COVID change

Pandora’s box is open, cats are out of bags. The pandemic has created changes for business and HR that simply won’t be undone. A vaccine may come and allow us to return to something resembling normal, but life has been inexorably changed by the pandemic and so have we.

Things that were commonplace in 2019 are an afterthought in 2020. Things we thought were distant trends that would take years to come to fruition are labeled normal, albeit a new version of normal. In 2020, the world and how it goes to work has changed a great deal and human resources has had to change with it.

Here are 7 aspects of HR that have likely changed forever.

  1. Virtual Recruiting and Onboarding

Online recruiting and elements of the onboarding process were likely online prior to the pandemic, but over the course of the spring many organizations had to take these processes entirely online. A new era or recruitment was born with hiring events and job fairs moving entirely online and companies building out remote onboarding processes that are enhancing their ability to hire outside the bounds of geography.

READ: How to Make the Most of a Remote Onboarding Process

WATCH: The Top 5 Things You Should Know Before Hiring International Contractors

  1. Becoming IT and Privacy Specialists

With remote work comes new technology and process demands. Collecting sensitive information from employees demands a level of privacy that technology can complicate and facilitating ongoing communication with and training of employees has HR teams feeling like IT and security experts at times. The technical demands of HR work will only grow as executives looking for greater workforce intelligence from things like AI, people analytics efforts and other technology that tracks performance and employee engagement.

READ: HR and IT Collaboration Drives Positive Employee Experiences

WATCH:  Evidence is Everything – People Analytics to Drive Business Results

  1. Survey Writers

The increased concern over employee engagement that has accompanied remote work has spurred an increased interest in surveying employees. HR teams that maybe ran a handful of surveys each year now find themselves surveying employees regularly. They are becoming skilled survey writers in the process as they consider important factors such as what employees want versus what they need and what are the most important questions to ask during a crisis?

READ: When is the Best Time to Survey Employees? Now!

WATCH: Fast, Flexible, and Free: Practical Text Analytics Enabling COVID-19 Response Teams

  1. Employee Safety and Compliance

Returning employees to work has presented HR teams with a safety challenge like they’ve never seen before. In hospitality, retail and tourism, the logistics present a veritable nightmare of opportunities for employees to contract the virus. As HR teams face challenges and try to accommodate employee’s needs, the safety and compliance landscape is shifting quickly.

READ: Managers are on Front Lines of Employee Safety Struggle

READ: 5 Tips for Building Trust When Employees Return to Work

  1. Public Health Administrators

When getting into a career in HR, it’s unlikely you thought you’d be spending time mapping routes through the office, writing mask policies and strategically placing handwashing stations, but alas, here we are. HR’s commitment to employee safety is currently being displayed through its commitment to keeping up with the latest advice from public health advisors and applying it to the workplace. While it’s possible that will ease with the arrival of a vaccine, people’s perception of how workplaces handle this, how those efforts continue and how the culture changes will have ongoing impacts.

READ: Looking Ahead: Coping with Another Wave of Coronavirus

 

WATCH: Returning to the Workplace – Key Considerations and the Role of Technology

  1. Social Engineers

With remote work comes a shift in culture as well. Creating culture virtually is not as simple as it may be in co-located environments, but it is possible. Understanding social capital and the nature of the remote workspace is going to be vital for HR teams going forward. And HR is going to have to make a special effort to create collaborative, innovative work cultures in the remote world if companies are going to survive this crisis and the ones that follow.

READ: Leveraging Social Capital with Michael Arena

WATCH: Building Culture in Remote Teams

  1. A Seat at the Leadership Table

HR has long wanted to a seat at the leadership table and it looks like COVID-19 may have just pulled up an extra chair for the CHRO. It has been said that HR’s function in this crisis is akin to the role for the Chief Financial Officer during the recession of 2008, the shoulders which will carry the organization through to the other side of all this. That seat is unlikely to be removed after this pandemic for HR leaders who step up to the plate. In the near and distant futures, it will be HR that is asked to help lead the organization through crisis response and preparation. How it responds is going to determine whether the organization survives until the next crisis.

READ: Questions About COVID-19 Impacts, L&D and Reskilling Answered by HR Leaders

WATCH: Case Study: The Impact of Leadership Mentoring Circles

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