The past year has been unprecedented taking the entire humanity by storm. It served a severe blow to the blooming workforce, that the world is still recovering from. The pandemic has derailed organizational goals forcing the management to deal with the crisis at hand. It has forever changed the face of the workforce leading to the adoption of newer methods of working.
Though a few of these trends had always been coming, there is no denying the fact that the coronavirus pandemic accelerated these changes. Organizations are now designing more people-centric strategies, performance management metrics are changing, and businesses are functioning differently in this “new normal.”
The changes and challenges that 2020 bought are shaping the future trends.
- Flexible work environment
If there is one thing that the pandemic has shown us is the efficacy of remote working. Earlier working from offices played a major role in office culture, and productivity often measured by the hours spent at the desk and not the work actually achieved. However, the pandemic has also shown us that productivity can be maintained or increased even when working remotely. Offering a flexible work environment gives autonomy to employees, increases efficiency and productivity, increases employee satisfaction, provides a healthy work-life balance, and instills a sense of trust and commitment to the company. While it won’t transform every single company, a flexible work option seems feasible for many other organizations.
- Focus on employee well-being
This is another trend that has gained more traction due to the pandemic. The times have been stressful taking a toll on mental health and disrupting normal life. Workers are reporting feeling burned out, going through stress, and having a difficult time managing home and work together.
Seventy-eight percent of participants in an American Psychological Association survey said the pandemic was a significant source of stress.
A burnt-out employee is more likely to make mistakes, be unproductive with low-efficiency levels. This does more harm than good to the organization in general. Therefore, it is important for organizations to design strategies that are empathetic, focuses on employee well-being, and stresses the importance of taking time off. The HR department must take a proactive approach to decrease burnout in employees and prioritize their mental health.
- Revamping employee experience
Providing exceptional employee experience and customer experience are still two cornerstones of organizational success. Employees are increasingly gravitating towards organizations that are strongly aligned to their mission. Companies are devising strategies to keep employees engaged at work, training managers, and breaking down traditional hierarchies to bring a more relaxed culture. The HR department is doing away with old-school methods of hiring, onboarding, performance reviews, etc, and bringing in new-age methods to retain talent, onboard employees, and manage feedback and surveys. Companies struggling with attrition are looking at revamping their entire employee experience process to make it more efficient and fluent with the current times.
- Implications of data security
During the complete remote working phase of the pandemic, many organizations had bought in technologies to monitor employees and their work. This move has generated mixed reactions throughout organizations with some siding with it and others expressing dissent citing privacy concerns. HR and top executives are focused on providing a secure way of communication and knowledge sharing. The installed software products are feared for providing more data reports and analytics of a candidate’s activities to the administrator. Planning such activities, and explaining their implications to the employees will instill more trust in the employees and make them complicit.
- Work on your performance review system
Following archaic practices is only setting your organization behind from achieving optimum levels of productivity. Rather than concentrating on processes like annual reviews, and systems in existence before the pandemic, the HR department should focus on building innovative performance management strategies that rely on effective practices. They should bring in a mechanism of feedback that is scientifically drawn and involves equal participation from the management and employees. In today’s workplace, there is little place for inefficiency so stop relying on traditional methods and review your existing performance monitoring metrics for effective results.
- Build a strong virtual onboarding experience
While the pandemic derailed the growth of many organizations, others have continued hiring throughout this time. However, many faced the challenge of onboarding employees online due to the novelty of the situation. With a flexible work environment, virtual onboarding is soon going to be a norm, which means that HR managers need to bring in strategies that help in the seamless onboarding of new employees n matter their geographic location. A smooth onboarding experience is paramount to the company’s long-term success and an effective method of inculcating a new hire to the company’s culture.
- Getting the workplace-ready post-Covid
It is important to remember that the pandemic is not yet over and the safety and health of employees are still the biggest priority. Employees are counting on their companies to help them get back to work safely. Once it’s safe to resume offices physically, the management has to put into effect certain processes and still follow social distancing measures to ensure safety. New protocols for deep cleaning and sanitization need to be undertaken regularly, work stations need to be moved, or shift timings introduced for seamless management. Organizations can further announce guidelines like mandatory face masks, frequent sanitizations, etc to prioritize the health of workers.
- Depend on analytics to make decisions
Leveraging people analytics to design and rework workplace strategies is a smart decision. Data can be used to solve business problems, identifying high potential employees, understand problem areas, and creating meaningful solutions around them. This data can help HR managers in tackling high attrition rates and create programs that reward employee loyalty and performance. It can also help reduce unconscious bias, identify harmful patterns, and uncover gaps to make way for more inclusive and equitable practices.
The fact that the past year has been a big lesson can never be forgotten. While we are still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, it is important to reevaluate existing strategies and design new organizational goals in alignment with the “new normal”. This year poses a serious challenge to the HR department who needs to strategize effective practices to efficiently deal with the workforce that has dealt with situations never seen before. As we prepare for the 2021 workplace, it is time to inspire the team, cultivate meaningful relationships, and position HR as the strategic drive force of the workplace in the post-pandemic world.
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