Before the pandemic, one of the most complicated challenges human resources faced was promoting work-life balance. Managers dealt with staff who are experiencing mental health issues, so they opened an opportunity for flexible work schedules. This allowed employees to customize their working hours so that some of them can work from home, or adjust their schedules to make more time for rest.
In regard to other HR-related problems, managers solved them using a traditional approach. They first defined the problem, addressed the variables that make it complicated, then agreed on solutions. But when the pandemic struck, the traditional problem-solving approach proved ineffective in mitigating the new challenges it brought.
Since COVID-19 forced many companies to shift to an online model, HR practices were greatly affected. From hiring to ensuring engagement, everything was processed remotely. And to a lot of HR professionals, this is unfamiliar territory.
From Complicated to Complex
In an article published in Harvard Business Review, writer Sue Bingham stated that HR should shift their mindset from complicated thinking to complexity consciousness. Complicated problems required linear thinking, which is the traditional approach to finding solutions. On the contrary, complex problems are unprecedented, so there are no best practices or available solutions to them, simply because they’ve never been experienced before.
Unlike complicated problems, which can be predicted, the complex problems companies are experiencing today were never foreseen. Nobody saw a pandemic coming, after all, so finances were never targeted to developing a full-scale online model. Until the virus spread like wildfire, companies assumed that work-from-home will just remain an option, not the only choice.
That said, HR must tap into their organization’s collective intelligence. And this comes from the most valuable resource: the employees. Now more than ever, HR managers should trust employees and seek solutions from them regarding remote work accommodations, engagement, benefits, and support. To do this, HR must flatten the hierarchy, and promote collaboration between different departments. This will foster more effective communication among all team members. Simply put, it will bring back humanity into human resources.
Challenges in the Work-from-home Setting
When all employees are still office-based, monitoring their performances was easier. But currently, it is perhaps the most significant managerial challenge. Instead of simply counting employees’ hours, managers should now focus on assessing their output. After all, it is a more effective way of measuring their productivity.
Managers from different departments can agree on setting goals and deadlines to ensure that tasks are accomplished every day. They should track targets closely, and immediately address issues, and provide feedback.
Another significant challenge is staff training. Before the pandemic, new hires usually undergo a seminar or probationary program where they’ll be actively guided. But now, all of that has to be done remotely.
Fortunately, companies can outsource some staff members, including those in managerial ranks. If they need a marketing officer, for instance, they can simply pay for reliable CMO financial services. That way, they’ll be working with a competent staff right away, and skip time-consuming training.
Lastly, communication also proved tricky in the work-from-home setting. You may think it’s easier to communicate remotely given the technology we have, but the sense of isolation stands as a barricade. Therefore, HR must establish formal systems to ensure that every employee feels included in the organization. There should be frequent two-way feedback sessions, check-ins, social activities, and clear procedures to follow if an issue arises.
Hiring may not be as challenging, since remote workers aren’t anything new in the HR sector. As long as the company uses the right recruitment vehicle, they can hire staff without problems.
The new normal in HR practices may go on after the pandemic, so if your company is now using these strategies, then you’re well-prepared for 2021 and are ready to adopt more innovations.