To date, the role of HR was to keep up with things like wellness of employees, payroll and benefits, recruitment and employee engagement, keeping things under the perimeter of employment law, and deal with issues that may interfere with the day-to-day operations of any businesses. In short, HR had been responsible to look after the well-being of the employees. But then COVID-19 happened and things turned upside down.
Role Of HR During A Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic had been one of the biggest global crises in recent times. It has put businesses to the test of time and preparedness to deal with the crisis effectively. Even the veteran HR leaders might not have seen this coming. But now they are expected to outline processes, communicate effectively with all the stakeholders involved, lead by example, and help businesses to run smoothly. Here are some specific roles and responsibilities that the HR team needs to fulfil in this time of crisis:
- Establishing a crisis management team
The main focus of the HR team at this unprecedented time is to form a crisis management team that will communicate effectively and timely with different stakeholders including the employees who are most likely working remotely. A crisis team should be composed of people from different functions with different skill sets like management, empathy, communication, positivity, responsibility, etc. Since no one knows what to expect in the coming days, having a crisis management team in place sends out a strong message that the organization is prepared for whatever challenging times lie ahead.
- Keeping employees informed
One thing that is needed more than ever now is communication. Effective, transparent, and timely communication is the need of the hour. Your employees who are most likely working from home or have begun to return to work need to stay informed at all times regarding the latest company updates and change in business scenarios. HR leaders play a critical role here ensuring there is clarity in every communication. It is a wise idea for the HR department to release a set of updated FAQs week-on-week as the business scenario is dynamic and changing every day.
- Setting up a virtual recruitment and onboarding process
It is almost certain that COVID is here to stay for some time. While businesses are embracing the new normal of social distancing and remote working, HR leaders need to devise a strategy for virtual recruitment and onboarding processes. From investing in video recruitment software to getting the recruiters and hiring managers trained in virtual recruitment, there is a lot that needs to be done.
- Building a remote workplace culture
Now that most employees are working remotely, HR leaders should focus more on building a remote workplace culture. From hosting virtual team-building events to scheduling catch up calls to communicating company goals and objectives – HR leaders across organizations are coming with new and innovative ideas to build a strong remote workplace culture. Here are some ideas for you to ponder on if you are looking for different ways to build a remote working culture in your organization.
- Managing performance of remote employees
While teams are working remotely, the biggest challenge for leaders is to manage their employees and their performances. How do you measure your employee’s productivity without meeting him or her for months on end.? How do you foster a successful relationship with your remote team members? How can you ensure work is done on time without micromanaging team members? There are several such questions that team leaders are facing at the moment. The onus lies with HR managers to define a work structure where the emphasis is given on the output and not on the process. While on the one hand managers need to be trained, at the same time the employees need to stay engaged and feel accountable for their responsibilities. This can be achieved through increased recognition and promoting dialogues between managers and employees.
- Taking care of employee well-being
Finally, HR leaders are poised with the huge responsibility to take care of the well-being of the employees. Remember, many are going through personal losses or recovering themselves while many are working under stressful conditions. It is one of the critical roles for HR to talk to their people, offer counseling help if needed, and be more empathetic towards their people. This can be achieved by relaxing work policies or adopting flexible work hours.
- Boosting employee morale
Amidst the other responsibilities, HR across the organizations are working hard to keep their employees engaged while boosting up the morals. It has been a rough time for all and fun team building activities can help employees to de-stress. Virtual pizza parties or team hurdles on Zoom meetings can help employees to bond, de-stress, and stay engaged at work.
While employees are adjusting to operating in the pandemic hit world, HR leaders need to rethink and re-strategize different HR processes with more empathy and human-focused approaches.