The global pandemic has disrupted every industry, creating chaos in these unprecedented times. As such, companies have had to rethink their entire business model and adapt to the changes to keep the lights on. HR professionals, in particular, have faced challenges in advocating for employees, shifting hiring policies, and managing internal communications.
Here are some of the biggest HR challenges faced during the COVID-10 pandemic.
Managing Shifting Hiring Priorities
The early days of the pandemic brought forth massive layoffs around the globe, at an estimate of 20-40 million workers in the USA experiencing dramatically reduced or eliminated working hours. In addition to layoffs, many companies implemented hiring freezes and put HR initiatives on hold, leaving many HR professionals at a loss for what comes next.
Meanwhile, some industries are experiencing hiring booms, particularly in health care. HR professionals in healthcare are burdened with battling a registered nurse shortage and managing increased staffing needs for what’s currently considered one of the world’s most dangerous and taxing professions.
Needless to say, HR professionals in all industries are experiencing a paradigm shift in their roles and expectations, adding to the stress and pandemonium of the overall situation.
Engaging Remote Teams
Employee engagement is the heart of building a company culture and reducing employee turnover. It’s always been challenging for HR professionals to walk the line between advocating for employees and staying within the boundaries of the company mission.
Now, many HR professionals must walk that line while dealing with a remote team.
Not only are employees shifting to a remote workforce, but they’ve done so without any transition plan put in place. Many employers have decided to stick with a remote work model going forward, regardless of how the pandemic unfolds. This means HR has further to reach to keep employees feeling actively included in their career.
HR is tasked with creating new policies for communications, check-ins, success measurement, and goal setting. This overhaul comes with the added challenge of training leadership from a remote setting.
Managing Employee Communications
Internal communication is an ongoing challenge for many businesses. Combine this issue with an unpredictable situation that changes from one week to the next, and you’ve got the recipe for an HR nightmare.
With so much uncertainty, the communications from this week may not apply next week. The best HR can do is to take a human approach, showcasing empathy and transparency.
It’s important to understand and convey that while everyone is in the same situation, individual experiences may vary dramatically. One employee trying to juggle remote learning while working from home will not have the same experience as a C-Suite executive with grown children and a higher tax bracket.
It’s essential to put supports in place for employees who are juggling work responsibilities, financial hardships, childcare challenges, and mental health challenges.
Back to Work and Contingency Planning
While many companies are sticking with a remote work model, others are trying to get their people back into an office setting. This shift poses challenges in planning for health and safety, managing changes, and creating a contingency plan.
Many employees who have worked from home will be eager to get into an office setting while others will not. HR professionals should strive to collect feedback and address any concerns while creating these plans. Again, empathy and understanding go a long way.
Answering Tough Questions
One of the downsides of managing human resources is making tough decisions. The financial stress and uncertainty of the pandemic have forced many companies to downsize and let employees go. For HR, this means determining the threshold for how many employees can run the company and which jobs are the highest priority for preservation.
Now more than ever, it’s essential for HR professionals to remember that they’re employees as well. Practice self-care, advocate for your team and take care of yourself as well as others.