The coronavirus crisis, political polarization, and social unrest has thrust human resources specialists into uncharted territory. While front line workers have been essential to combating the pandemic and maintaining sectors of our economy, HR pros have been largely responsible for keeping organizations operational, caring for the wellbeing of employees, and catalyzing changes to the workplace.
Over the next few weeks, EBI is exploring how HR has been affected by these events and how its specialists have responded. Jennifer Gladstone will be sharing one-on-one interviews she’s conducted with high-profile HR professionals in an upcoming EBI series.
But we’ll start with a look at how 2020’s challenges have actually reinvigorated HR and ignited new passions and projects like never before.
Sound like an oxymoron? Well, when faced with an unpredictable and unrelenting obstacle like an international health crisis, being able to proactively react is critical to alleviating additional strain on an organization. HR not only needs to be aware of what may happen, it needs the speed, agility, and structured coordination to implement changes when required.
HR departments throughout various industries have displayed this adaptability through a systemic reimagining of their organization in its current environment. They deftly examined the overall processes that were in place before the disruptions of 2020 and facilitated dialogues with leadership to find out what elements could be kept, what needed revising, and what was outdated. In a matter of weeks, HR specialists became corporate Marie Kondo’s.
Just as the KonMari Method would have you tidy by category and discard items that no longer brought you joy, HR teams examined the roles, responsibilities, functions, and performances of various departments to ensure organizations were running lean and efficiently, while keeping employees safe and cultures intact. They proactively reacted to the cutthroat enterprise environment created by COVID-19 and provided guidance to ensure long-term organizational success.
Here’s a sampling of the types of areas HR influenced by necessity:
The scope of these types of projects was massive, accelerated, and stressful. It also came at a time when many HR departments were redefining their own roles and expanding into never-before-implemented efforts like fully remote workforces, workplace safety, and return-to-work protocols.
While the sheer size and velocity of these combined opportunities understandably overwhelmed some HR departments, many say they were re-invigorated by the challenge. Almost overnight, HR specialists didn’t have the time to prioritize routine tasks and attend regular meetings. Instead, specialists were met by a pressing need for innovation, inquiry, and creativity as HR departments were called upon to think up new ways of doing things. It’s not that the routine tasks – like onboarding and benefits management – vanished. It’s that now those tasks needed to be redefined from a priority performance perspective, and adequate attention and problem-solving needed to be given to new issues like diversity initiatives, retaining working parents, and protecting vulnerable employees.
HR departments will never be the same after 2020 because most of the tactics, strategies, and tools they use to manage employees have expanded, been streamlined to maximize efficiency and efficacy, or been tossed out as antiquated.
Additionally, HR specialists and the roles they play will never be the same because the pandemic and social unrest has pushed the necessity for employee safety and wellbeing to the forefront of their responsibilities.
The businesses who assist their HR departments in managing this transition and maintaining these new roles will be better equipped for the future of work – however it continues to evolve even after 2020.
comprehensive suite of return-to-work solutions that are easy to use, easy to learn, and easy to implement. The solution is built with a solid foundation of understanding the new realities HR departments have in managing employee and workplace safety.
Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.