Companies needed to instantly revise their HR business strategies to focus strongly on business continuity and employee safety, which ultimately affected the entire UK workforce.
I saw first-hand how the lives of the 1.5 million employees who are served by Zalaris were affected. Which made me start thinking about the future of our industry, and whether HR would ever be the same again.
I have a network replete with leaders in the HR industry who I am fortunate enough to be able to reach out to during these times. We have pieced together how we see the HR industry changing post COVID-19: ultimately, we are looking at the new un-normal of HR in the UK.
The new un-normal
Face-to-face contact will not be the same for a long time.
It is clear that there will be a massive decline in travelling, in terms of both commuting to work and international travel.
With the proven readily available access to technologies, we have learnt that remote working is possible for almost all roles. So, the question stands, is there still a need for offices in this new business world?
There are clear economic benefits of having a workforce conduct their business operations from their homes, but as HR leaders we need to look at employee experience and the importance of human contact. Arguably, onboarding of employees, company events, in-person training, conferences and interviews can all be successfully conducted via online tools. However, will we lose the underlying element of trust which comes from the comfort of body language? After all, statistics show people take communication as 7% of the words we say, 38% from the way we say it and 55% from our body language. We need to focus not only on the economic benefits of having employees work from home, but also the affect this will have on employee, client, and partner relationships.
Balance is key
And then we need to look at catering for employee needs. There was already a shifting focus to employees within companies when it came to measuring success. However, the drastic change to our ways of working has brought with it further pressures on HR leaders to ensure employee mental health and wellbeing is thoroughly looked after.
We need to strive to do the right thing for our working parents by understanding how to balance working from home and family commitments. Plus, how do we cater for those employees who are not suited to the work from home environment? How do we mentor, job train and shadow employees to help them progress if they are disengaged and underperforming in the new work environment? Naturally, this will take time for organisations to resolve. But, do we have time in the current conditions?
What we can be sure of is that uncertainty prevails in this new un-normal.
We can’t look passed the positives that have been seen from this sudden shift: enhanced flexible working conditions, more attention on employee wellbeing and minimised need for commuting. The strengthening of technologies means we need to look at the affects of having human connection within the work environment and if we can develop strategies to balance these out. Personally, I am expecting a hybrid work environment to be sculpted in this new business world. But, in uncertain times like these, only time will tell.