As the COVID pandemic resets major work trends, HR leaders need to rethink workforce and employee planning, management, performance, and experience strategies.
The coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of work in a number of ways. The imperative for HR leaders is to evaluate the impact each trend will have on their organization’s operations and strategic goals, identify which require immediate action, and assess to what degree these trends change pre-COVID-19 strategic goals and plans.
“It’s critical for business leaders to understand that large-scale shifts are changing how people work and how business gets done,” says Thuli Nkosi CEO of BossJansen Executive Search Africa.
Increase in remote working
A recent BossJansen poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic. As organizations shift to more remote work operations, explore the critical competencies employees will need to collaborate digitally and be prepared to adjust employee experience strategies. Consider whether and how to shift performance goal-setting and employee evaluations for a remote context.
Expanded data collection
The analysis shows that 16% of employers are using technologies more frequently to monitor their employees through methods such as virtual clocking in and out, tracking work computer usage and monitoring employee emails or internal communications/chat. While some companies track productivity, others monitor employee engagement and well-being to better understand employee experience.
Expanded employer role as a social safety net
The pandemic has increased the trend of employers playing an expanded role in their employees’ financial, physical, and mental well-being. Support includes enhanced sick leave, financial assistance, adjusted hours of operation, and child care provisions. Some organizations supported the community by, for instance, shifting operations to manufacturing goods or providing services to help combat the pandemic and offering community relief funds and free community services.
The current economic crisis has also pushed the bounds of how employers view the employee experience. Personal factors rather than external factors take precedence over what matters for organizations and employees alike. Employing such measures can be an effective way to promote physical health and improve the emotional well-being of employees.
Separation of critical skills and roles
Before COVID-19, critical roles were viewed as roles with critical skills, or the capabilities an organization needed to meet its strategic goals. Now, employers are realizing that there is another category of critical roles — roles that are critical to the success of essential workflows.
Encourage employees to develop critical skills that potentially open up multiple opportunities for their career development, rather than preparing for a specific next role. Offer greater career development support to employees in critical roles who lack critical skills.
The emergence of new top-tier employers
Prior to COVID-19, organizations were already facing increased employee demands for transparency. Employees and prospective candidates will judge organizations by the way in which they treated employees during the pandemic and balance the decisions made today to resolve immediate concerns during the pandemic with the long-term impact on the employment brand.
For example, advise CEOs and executive leaders on decisions regarding executive pay-cuts and make sure financial impacts are absorbed by executives versus the broader employee base.
Progressive organizations communicate openly and frequently to show how they are supporting employees despite the implementation of cost-saving measures. Where feasible, look for opportunities to arrange talent-sharing partnerships with other organizations to relocate employees displaced from their jobs by COVID-19.
The transition from designing for efficiency to designing for resilience
To build a more responsive organization, design roles, and structures around outcomes to increase agility and flexibility and formalize how processes can flex. Also, provide employees with varied, adaptive, and flexible roles so they acquire cross-functional knowledge and training.
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