Covid19 – The Challenges & Opportunities for HR

Covid19, pandemic, business imact, human resources, josh bersin, bersin by deloitte
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Disclaimer: The data points and views represented in the below article have been picked up from the original article by JoshBersin here The author in this article has just summarized the views to showcase the changes that HR aspirants/professionals must expect and prepare for, in the times to come. Hope you find it relevant

Recently, Josh Bersin embarked on a project with the MIT Sloan Management Review and CultureX to find out what HR teams around the world are doing to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.

Basis the survey responses received, here are the major discoveries made:

What are the Top HR priorities?

The Top 4 Issues that are running in most of the HR’s mind are:

  • Health & Well Being
  • Manage Remote work
  • Jobs & Continuity
  • Mental Health, Uncertainty

It’s amazing to see that before this crisis, fewer than 50% of companies even had a remote work program. Banks, regulated industries, and many financial services companies did not let employees work from home. Today companies like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and others are rushing to build remote work strategies. Note also how many companies are already focused on “job movement” and the protection of jobs. The Food Industry Association, for example, has started a massive program to help companies in all aspects of food service and delivery realign their people toward new jobs and roles. Accenture is developing a similar program with the help of Verizon, Lincoln Financial, and ServiceNow. As soon as plants and restaurants and locations were shut down, companies started to think about moving people to new roles.

One of the other issues top of mind is “continuity of operations.” Novartis and other pharma companies were explicitly clear that the “crisis response” team is not the sole job of HR even at a time like this. ServiceNow and many other companies are continuing to hire, and in fact, ServiceNow shared with me today that it onboarded 45 people last week via Zoom. Our survey does suggest this is the exception, rather than the rule; only 5% of HR Professionals anticipated their organization increasing its workforce in the wake of COVID.

What are the Top Employee Issues?

Unsurprisingly, the #1 issue is job security.

The Top 4 Issues that are running in the Employee’s mind are:

  • Financial Security
  • Health & Well Being
  • Family
  • Productivity at Work

Many of the HR leaders that were interviewed opined that “making family life easier” is one of their biggest and most immediate goals because employees working at home are often also taking care of kids, monitoring schoolwork, and helping parents and other family members. Companies are now surveying their employees to see who is impacted by these situations so they can relax work hours or add flexibility

What progress has been made?

On asking the companies “what is working” and you can see there are a lot of things. Most of these programs are focused on communication, remote work, and ongoing health and wellbeing. Note also that more than 70% of companies are readjusting their HR priorities.

The Top 4 activities that these companies have adopted:

  • Happy hours to help Employees socialize
  • Top Leadership fully transparent in their Communication with the Employees
  • Daily meetings to arrest concerns and course-correct them
  • Introduced a centralized information center on Covid19

What have companies learned?

Many HR teams are not designed for agility; rather they are designed as service delivery functions. In this world, HR teams have to immediately create response teams and quickly empower local business partners to act locally with global coordination.

The Top 4 challenges that HR faced/facing during this Covid19

  • Difficulty coordinating response across teams, business units & geography
  • Two-communication is not as effective as it could be
  • Not adjusting fast enough to help our customers
  • Lack of agility to adapt to the rapidly changing situation

This above data reflects that local control and authority is a key to crisis response. The military has learned that distributed autonomy with central coordination is the model that wins wars. HR departments are figuring this out quickly

What does this mean?

HR teams have to:

  • Focus on people first, economics second.
  • Develop rapid response teams that cross organizational boundaries.
  • Distribute authority to remote HR professionals, and coordinate action quickly.
  • Create real-time data collection to identify precisely where problems are occurring.
  • Rapidly develop programs to educate, train, and empower people to work at home.
  • Relax rules for hours, pay, and vacation to respond to fast-changing conditions.
  • Quickly assess what jobs are going away and start to align people toward new roles quickly.
  • Stay positive and communicate a positive growth spirit despite the uncertainty and change.

Re-Frame Employee Experience: Focus On Real-Time Action