The significance of post pandemic HR practices
After two dreadful years of COVID-19 hitting almost every individual & sector by large, things are getting back to normal. Although all the companies, irrespective of their employee strength, size had accumulated work from home/ remote working model, and the cases all over the globe are curbing, the firms are transitioning back to the pre-pandemic working style with a hybrid model which provides the employees with leverage of working from their home and offices in specific proportions.
Everything about people has evolved, and we need systems & procedures that are quickly adaptable to this new normal. The new normal for HR has shifted from the involvement of employees face-to-face to engaging with remote employees whom they meet only virtually most of the time. 80% of the HR managers(1) surveyed admitted that hiring employees for full-time office presence is more complicated. In any organization, HR practices shape the functioning of the system. They are not just limited to optimizing productivity by allocating resources to the relevant roles. The pandemic had changed the role of HR personnel from onboarding and resource allocation to revamping the overall structure of the organization's practices through effective policies and well being of the employees. As per the report from Deloitte, around 2.7 billion people or 4 out of 5 individuals(2) in the workforce were affected by the lockdown measures and remote working.
The pandemic had affected the working individuals on the social, financial, and psychological levels. There are two sides to the story. First the comfortable work from home/remote setup provides employees leverage to be flexible in where they work from, how they work. But, as the pandemic continued for a couple of years and people continued to work from home/remotely, hence becoming isolated and aloof from networking or social circles, an increased level of anxiety, depression, stress has been observed. As per a new World Economic Forum-Ipsos survey, COVID-19 prompted about 30% of employed adults to take a leave of absence, 56% experienced increased anxiety around job security. More than half of the employees mentioned that the change in the work style was stressful. More than forty percent said that their level of productivity has declined, and almost half of the people felt isolated, alone, and it was hard to be productive in work from home. (3)
As the employees return to the workplace, the significance of HR practices has increased manifold. Although some of the employees may welcome the return to offline work, 33% of respondents in a Mckinsey survey(4) found that their return to work had a negative impact on their mental health. Hence, the return to the workplace post-pandemic can not be envisioned without employee well-being policies and practices. To curb the psychological, The organizations should imply an R3 (Revive, Restructure, Revamp) model.
Revive: To the new normal regime
There has been so much disruption in the corporate world due to the pandemic, and the style of working has changed drastically. The current lifestyle of working is hence termed the new normal. The HR policies must complement the company’s mission and vision. The world is changing at a very high pace, and the firms have to adapt to this change by reacting in ways that suit the employees' best interests. The policies’ should be in line with the workforce's expectations, and any misalignment may lead to dissatisfaction and, eventually, higher attrition rates. As per the observations concerned for a couple of years, many organizations have failed to react appropriately to the pandemic, and their decisions have led to more than even higher attrition rates. The statement mentioned above is backed by the report of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which states that over 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021(5), which directly reflects the fact that the decisions of their companies were not in line with the aspirations of the employees.
Restructure: The HR practices and policies
Specific workplace triggers, like long hours with no breaks, unreasonable expectations or deadlines, insufficient managerial support, and so on, might leave an individual dissatisfied in their job. Effective policies focussed upon the mental well-being of the employees are required. They promote well-being, address work-related causes of mental health problems, and support employees with mental health issues. Support line managers in developing customized support for individuals by creating an open culture that encourages disclosure are all approaches for attaining these goals. As an HR professional, if you have a strategy, you must maintain consistency throughout your business, and it's all about being there, intervening, and supporting employees and managers who are dealing with this. There can be different pay, leave, and employee well-being policies. The employees can choose to work from wherever they want and the focus must be on increasing the productivity by achieving the set targets.The seminars/consultation, primarily focused on mental health and the ease of relocation, are aspects the HRs should think upon and restructure.
Revamp: The overall productivity and well-being of the individuals and the firm.
The growth of any firm is directly proportional to the productivity of the employees, which is significantly dependent on their mental and physical well-being. According to research, around 42% of the global employees had experienced a decline in their mental health since the pandemic, affecting their productivity at work. The policies must ensure that there is an overall development of the employees, the work environment and the lifestyle of the employees working from home/remotely has been accustomed to 3F's - Flexibility, Family and Fulfillment, hence the employees are vulnerable to leave if they don't get the mentioned factors in post-pandemic return to the workplace. As per a survey, nearly four in every ten global employees(6) said no one at the workplace asked them about their mental well-being and realized there was a severe social disconnect post return to work. The better the employee's mental health, the better will be the productivity and hence the growth of the organization. Therefore, these practices will ensure the workplace environment is revamped.
To conclude, if there is any way the firms can retain their talent, it is only through reacting appropriately to the change, restructuring the orthodox HR practices at the workplace, and revamping the overall productivity and well-being of the individuals resulting in overall success.
- https://hbr.org/2020/08/8-ways-managers-can-support-employees-mental- health