As the pandemic acts as a catalyst for resetting major business trends, HR professionals will be essential to forming and driving business strategies that reimagine and reshape organizations
It’s a brave new world and many HR professionals will be leading their organizations into it.
The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted social and economic life to the point where things may never be the same, or it will be a while before things return to something resembling normalcy. In the business world, many companies have had to rethink how they operate and how they manage their workforces.
And HR is well-placed to play a key role in both supporting and catalyzing organizational changes so businesses can succeed in the new landscape coming out of the pandemic — which likely means an increase in influence and autonomy.
HR leaders and their departments have assumed a vital and central role as they are tasked with keeping corporate culture alive, supporting employees as they deal with their own challenges and the uncertainty of the pandemic, and innovating company polices to meet the needs of employees, says Taylor Valee, consultant, enterprise group solutions for People Corporation — a national provider of group benefits, group retirement, and HR services that is offering a free whitepaper, Actions Speak Louder Than Words: Five undeniable lessons learned by HR professionals since the beginning of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has made it unquestionably clear to organizations that HR leaders need to have more than just a seat at the table,” says Valee. “They need to be empowered with the autonomy to make company-wide decisions that positively impact profitability and productivity.”
The speed with which the pandemic took hold meant that uncertainty and unpredictability have been key themes for much of the past 20 months. Organizations had to pivot and adapt quickly to the new reality, whether it was managing layoffs, accommodating employees working from home, enhancing health and safety restrictions for employees in the workplace, and planning return-to-work when restrictions were lifted.
HR has had to figure out how to do things differently, such as recruitment and training from a distance, keeping remote employees engaged, and dealing with increased employee stress and mental health issues. And, HR professionals have faced these challenges while also dealing with the effects of the pandemic themselves, says Valee.
“It is understandable that many HR leaders believe this is one of the most challenging times in their careers but have remarked that it has also given them more influence than ever before,” she says. “Remaining agile and meeting these challenges with resilience and adaptability has been instrumental to successful problem-solving throughout the entirety of the pandemic.”
In facing the challenges of the pandemic and learning from them, HR professionals are now turning their attention to the recovery phase as they continue to help lay the foundation for organizational changes in the post-pandemic business world. Valee points to the importance of reinforcing a commitment to employee well-being with benefits programs that meet the overall physical, mental, and financial needs of individual employees, as well as focusing on encouraging the development of employees’ skills that allow them to be more resilient and adaptable.
“Though much remains uncertain, it is clear that the ways in which HR leaders strategically handle this phase will define corporate culture and determine their competitiveness in the future,” she says.
For more on the top challenges HR professionals have faced and the lessons they have learned during the pandemic, download the free whitepaper from People Corporation here.