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Human Resource Management During a Pandemic


Posted by Insightlink on 02/18/21

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an almost-immediate change in how companies of all sorts conducted their respective business. One of the most common changes made was allowing employees to work remotely, as many states and municipalities released strict stay-at-home orders for anyone not deemed an essential worker.

Though no parts of a given business were particularly thrilled about the changes, Human resource management departments may have got the shortest straw relative to the moves from brick-and-mortar offices to the remote work world.

hr pandemic

 Image by Candid_Shots from Pixabay

HR managers recruit and retain employees and third-party vendors, they manage conflict, and they ensure that employees feel safe, included, and empowered to perform at their highest possible levels (among many other things). With the COVID-19 pandemic, all of these aspects of human resource management were set back to square one, as the means of making employees feel important and welcomed are very different in the digital world. Even as COVID-19 is finally starting to subside thanks to vaccinations, remote work is expected to continue for many, and HR managers need to increase their focus on these environments, as employee retention hangs a lot of weight on whether or not an employee is happy in their workspace. For many, the remote workspace was a happier one than the office, and if not empowered to work from somewhere comfortable, retainment will be quite a challenge.

These COVID changes that led many companies to realize benefits of digital communication also give way to larger employee pools, meaning recruitment practices also have to be changed, and cultural awareness and respect need to become centric parts of an HR team’s training programs.

Ultimately, human resource managers work to be flexible during disruptions caused by public health crises and simply mold with the times as all successful businesses do. Those aspiring to work in HR can get ahead of the proverbial game by self-training in remote-work communications, capabilities, and common issues.

Here are partial results of Insightlink's survey of 3,000+ front-line employees across the U.S. during the past 10 months. This was done as a follow-up to our March 2020 survey of HR managers. Participants were asked the following question: In comparison to how you felt before the COVID-19 outbreak, how often are you experiencing the following feelings?

covid concerns

It’s clear that the ongoing pandemic is taking a toll on frontline employees by making them feel far more overwhelmed, fearful and isolated than in the past. Effective HR managers need to understand and take action to address the emotional costs of COVID-19 rather than telling them, as we heard one manager say, that "They should feel lucky that they have jobs". If you'd like to understand how your employees are coping with the pandemic, either as remote or onsite workers, give us a call. With our experience, we can help design a survey to ensure that you get your arms around this unprecedented challenge.

 

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