How has HR evolved during the pandemic?

As the workplace environment has changed dramatically throughout the pandemic, the role and responsibilities of the HR professional has also shifted. With coronavirus taking the world by surprise, businesses had to quickly adapt and send some (if not all) of their employees home, making the challenge of upkeeping employment law and employee wellbeing harder than ever.

New processes have had to be put in place, policies adjusted, and new concerns have been raised due to the merging of an employee’s home and work life. In the era of remote working – how has the Human Resources professional’s role changed?

New Technology

With remote working came the demand for new project management, communication, and employee monitoring tools. Whereas most smaller companies have been in the position to allow their teams a certain level of autonomy, there are many larger companies that have implemented a monitoring system to ensure the productivity of their employees.

Many of these monitoring systems collect sensitive information that demands for a level of privacy for the employee. As an advocate for the employee, it’s been the role of the HR team to ensure they are fully knowledgeable of the data these tools collect and to safeguard the company by updating any employee contracts to reflect these developments.

Employee Wellbeing

Prior to COVID, when employees were predominantly based within the office, it was easier to implement a company culture throughout the business. However, with teams separated and many people working alone, monitoring the well-being of your staff has become a struggle.

Many HR teams have tackled this issue by increasing the number of employee satisfaction surveys to ensure there is no growing animosity within the business. These satisfaction surveys have also helped to protect the mental health of the organisation as a whole.

Employee Safety

In an office, you can make sure that the chairs, desks, and workstations supplied meet the health and safety standards set by the government. This gives all employees the tools and environment they need to work in safely. However, with everyone’s home situation being different, it is impossible to create a uniform work environment within a remote working business structure.

Since coronavirus, many businesses have implemented a ‘home office’ budget for all their employees to spend on creating a workspace that works for them, with the HR team distributing this budget throughout the business.

New Hires and Employment Terminations

The onboarding and offboarding processes are an essential element of the HR professional’s role, and it’s the role of the HR team that has changed most since March 2020. New hires often find themselves disconnected from their teams and the process of offboarding a leaving employee can often lack empathy and understanding due to the current work environment.

By fostering a collaboration between the HR and IT team, businesses have been able to build new processes for onboarding and offboarding that ensures that a new employee gets all the tools they need, that no company property is missed during the offboarding process and that the employee lifecycle is well managed to increase staff retention.

Although the world is starting to reopen and some businesses are slowly returning to an office environment, there are elements of a HR professionals’ role that will be forever changed due to this pandemic.

If you’re an HR professional that would like to keep up to date with employment law, you can view some of our upcoming training courses, here.

Published on Apr 26, 2021 by Lauren Fowles