The Pandemic And The Restructuring

The Pandemic And The Restructuring

Digital transformation, effective communication, and empathy will be critical for business growth and employee development. And Human Resources will play a critical role in reimagining the future of work.


As the world grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallouts, organisations came to face with tectonic shifts in the way of work. As a result, the role of HR had to evolve. The immediate requirement of work from home was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. HR teams worldwide had to learn to work remotely yet closely with different business functions to ensure continuity of operations, while prioritising employee well-being. Remote work necessitated adopting the latest technology, communication modes, and policies that ensured employee efficiency, uninterrupted engagement, learning & development, recruitment, and other critical business functions of the organisation.


With businesses waking up to new, post-pandemic challenges, the role of Human Resources needs to be reimagined as HR will be playing a critical role in ensuring business success in the disrupted future of work.  While businesses feel the pressure to cut costs to steer themselves to a post-COVID recovery, they must remember the value HR teams will bring to the table and optimise the budget accordingly.


Here are the few areas where businesses need to focus on when allocating HR budget in a post-pandemic world.


Redesigning Talent Acquisition


Remote hiring, earlier restricted mainly to international talent acquisition, enjoyed mainstream popularity during the lockdown, as more and more employers digitised the entire process of identifying the right talent, interviewing and onboarding candidates. One can safely say that the trend is here to stay. Organisations, especially those that continue with remote work, will probably replace in-person interviews with video conferencing, telephonic discussions, and other digital modes of talent acquisition. Social media will also emerge as an important recruitment tool. HR teams thus will need to invest in the right tools to ensure seamless digital hiring processes such as sourcing profiles, updating candidate forms, candidate assessment and background verification, interviews, onboarding, asset delivery at home, induction, introduction with managers and teams, and so on. New-age innovations such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will also increasingly become a part of hiring strategies in the post-pandemic world with an intent to improve the quality of candidates and streamline the processes.


Leveraging New-age Communication Tools


Companies relied heavily on communication channels like MS Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Yammer, etc., during WFH. Even in the postpandemic era, they will continue with the investments in digital communication tools, especially since many organisations or business functions might switch to permanent  WFH in the post-COVID period. Besides easy-to-use services, user-friendly UI/ UX, and endto-end security, these communication tools come with valueadded features which further boost employee productivity. For example, MS Teams has started sharing stats (MyAnalytics), which helps employees understand the time spent collaborating with others, their communication habits, top collaborators, email hours, and more information while sharing tips to be more productive and adopt healthier habits.


Employee Benefits in the Workplace of the Future


A digital workplace of the future requires investments in the right user-friendly technology and digitised services. For example, organisations will now spend less on medical staff and in-office clinics and divert the same budget into telemedicine tieups such as Practo, to give employees access to quality healthcare with physician consultations and discounts on medicines from the comfort of their homes. Many organisations have stopped their association with sports and workout centres and subscribed to online services like Virgin Pulse to conduct virtual competitions on physical activities with rewards for achieving specific goals. Virtual physical activities will not only boost employee wellbeing but will also be an integral part of team building in the organisations of the future. Instead of conveyance reimbursements, companies are now giving reimbursements for Wi-Fi, workstations, and office furniture for WFH. Investments in employee benefits will thus be tailored to meet the needs of workplaces of the future.


Reimagining Employee Learning & Development


Employee learning & development are critical for organisational success. However, COVID-19 has radically transformed L&D initiatives at workplaces. Instead of pressing pause, HR teams have adopted online learning tools such as LinkedIn Learning, Lynda, Plural-sight, and more to help employees reskill and upskill during remote work anytime at their convenience. Physical seminars have made way for online learning sessions, with participation from both internal stakeholders as well as diverse external experts from different parts of the world. With virtual learning increasingly becoming the norm, employees will eventually benefit more from rich knowledge from a pool of diverse speakers and participants, enabled by digital modes of learning. By embracing digital L&D initiatives, HR teams can also promote greater engagement among peers and ensure that learning will go on undisrupted.


Enhancing Employee Engagement


During the lockdown, Human Resources Departments were also tasked with the critical responsibility of ensuring that employee motivation and organisational culture remain intact despite the day-to-day operational challenges of WFH. Fun, creative employee engagement initiatives such as virtual ‘office lunches’, games and relaxing virtual activities, online celebrations of birthdays, festivals, and other special occasions have kept the spirits up during remote work. Online recognition of employee achievements and key milestones, one-on-one sessions with team managers, virtual town halls with the senior management team, frequent check-ins, and timely, honest, and transparent communications by HR managers have been and will always be instrumental in promoting employee engagement and boosting efficiency.


Permanence of Remote Work


What started as a crisis is gradually turning into an opportunity for organisations keen to continue with WFH permanently, at least for some business functions. HR needs to support these organisational transformations by implementing employee-centric policies keeping the organisations’ interests at the core. This means adopting policies that promote agility and flexibility and imparts employees with the skills and resources necessary for WFH. COVID-19 has catalysed digital transformation at workplaces, and HR needs to leverage this technology to address the demands of a new normal at workplaces.


We are all in unchartered territories, even in the post-COVID world. As organisations are preparing themselves to navigate the challenges of the new normal, human resources need to identify the opportunities to help businesses thrive in the face of adversity by adapting to the demands of the New Ways of Working (NWOW). Digital transformation, effective communication, and empathy will be critical for business growth and employee development. And Human Resources will play a critical role in reimagining the future of work.


Amol Gupta is Chief Human Resources Officer, India & Philippines, FIS. With an overall experience of 23 years in Human Resource Management he has held different positions at Barclays Technology Center India, SunGard, Infosys BPO, Lupin Ltd. and a few others. Amol, an alumnus of UC Berkeley Extension, SIMS, Symbiosis Law College and Delhi University and has additional certifications like SPHR, HRMP and SHRM – SCP.


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