How COVID-19 proved to be an enabler in redefining the HR processes?
HR, also called people’s people, manages an employee’s complete life cycle. This is a job that involves frequent face-to-face interactions with an employee beginning with pre-joining, hiring, onboarding, joining, training, performance evaluation and management, compensation management, etc. Who would have thought in the wildest of their dreams, that this all would have to be managed virtually? One fine day, we got to know that from tomorrow onwards, we would have to work from home. A lot of sectors like IT, which is very tech-friendly did not face a big challenge as they are used to working remotely for their onshore clients, while it was an unheard phenomenon for various other sectors like finance, e-commerce, BPM’S, etc. Exhaustive business continuity plans were required to be designed for the same to cope up with the challenge at hand. Many employees/organizations do not have all the necessary ecosystem to be able to shift to ‘Work from Home’. However, better connectivity, tech-friendly young population and ready to accept the change have helped companies manage this big transition with relative ease.
Small, medium, and large companies, all bore the brunt of it. Companies had to re-scale their IT processes to shift to a virtual mode and it has taken a lot of time for everyone to get used to it. Suddenly, HR Teams resorted to compiling lists of ill and productive employees. Employee engagement has become more necessary and has taken a different route altogether, concepts like weekend diaries and the hobbies that the employees have developed, have helped the HR Teams cross the professional barriers and to connect deeply with the employees, leaving behind the tea and smoke breaks. It has also given employees a considerable amount of time, which they can spend with their families.
Gone are the days, when 3-3.5 hours of the day were consumed in traveling to the workplace for employees commuting from far-off places, instead the work timings and schedules have become standardized. It has been a constant challenge to track the performance and productivity of employees, expectancy theory of Victor Vroom has become more important, a belief that working hard results in a good performance, which is followed by rewards which have a value allocated to themselves. Performance feedback and appraisals are managed virtually now, giving feedback has been a challenge for the line managers and HR Teams have invested their time in preparing modules for better remote employee management. But the challenge will always be to maintain and elevate the pulse of the employees.
What are the HR Teams doing to counter such challenges? Well, they are scaling up their HR Tech platforms to make it friendly for all the employees. The pulse of the floor, which is very important for an HR to know while in the office, virtually moodometers are being used to track it. Facial recognition systems are being employed to track the attendance of employees. A large amount of time is being invested in analyzing the personality type of high-performers and channelize the recruitment strategy basis that. High Potentials are identified and there are special engagement plans that are prepared to elevate the moods. Predictive analytics is the need of the hour. Employee wellness initiatives have been on the top of the chart in terms of employee engagement, different social communities have helped the employees stay connected with their peers. Informal connections with the employees and their families during online meetings has instilled more belongingness to the employees.
As per Nimitt Thakkar, Assistant General Manager HR, CapitalVia Global Research Ltd, The workforce is not entirely uniform now, more part-time employees are entering the workforce to give rise to the gig economy. Job specifications and descriptions will undertake a massive change due to this. Policies are also changing at a rapid pace, concepts such as “Labour day” and a “day off” are being taken very seriously by firms to give employees some time off and the prevent the burnout which the employees face when they do not interact with their peers on a real-time basis. Companies like us have also started giving more importance to recognition and “appreciation hours” are used for the employees to appreciate and recognize their peers ensuring a high level of camaraderie between the teams.
More emphasis would be placed on design thinking, while finding solutions to employee’s problems. Is this model sustainable for a long time or forever? Many of the big shots in the big firms surely think so, India’s IT giant, to move at least 75% of the workforce to work remotely in the coming 4-5 years. Surprisingly so, now it is not only the IT firms which think that the model is sustainable, Some firms are also thinking of vaccinating their employees at free or no cost, taking medical and employee well-being to a different level altogether. The way companies interact with their internal customers will also change, the communication would be very detailed involving a specific target audience i.e., millennials, Gen X, women, to performers, etc. A successful mixture of avenues with various challenges would be formed by a unique combination of people, process, product, and technology.