07 October 2020
Many organisations have been forced to make major changes to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis. HR is at the heart of these changes, whether this involves team restructuring, short-time working, lay-offs, working from home, or even the use of new technologies.
How has the health crisis affected the corporate world and how are companies adapting? Most importantly, what are HR teams doing to adapt to the “new normal” of a post-Covid world?
How the health crisis is changing the corporate world
During this period of uncertainty and turmoil, many companies have had to undergo restructuring and implement significant company-wide changes. Here’s why:
CEO + HR are at the forefront
Human resource managers play a major role in supporting employees through change and ensuring they can thrive in a company that is in the midst of transition. This expertise is precisely why HR, together with the CEO, have played a crucial role in managing the health crisis since the beginning.
According to a survey conducted in France by the French National Association of HRD (Association nationale des DRH – ANDRH), 97% of the 550 companies surveyed responded that HR and the CEO took the lead in managing the health crisis [survey in French].
This includes managing working hours, making working from home possible for employees, ensuring employees’ health and safety, and keeping everyone informed about returning to the workplace. Beyond managing the logistical and operational facets of these challenges, establishing effective communication with all employees is essential.
Remote work has increased
“According to McKinsey research, 80 percent of people questioned reported that they enjoy working from home”.
- Managing teams remotely: although the concept of remote management is nothing new (e.g. companies with multiple locations), it requires managers who are new to remote management to develop new skills. Managers must adapt their management style to their new virtual environment.
Trusting one’s team, establishing new team management strategies, and using the right tools are all crucial to effective remote management.
- Helping establish a healthy working environment for everyone and keeping team morale high: whether or not employees prefer working from home, the Covid-19 crisis did not leave companies with much choice. During lockdown, working conditions were not the same for everyone. Some employees had to work while taking care of their children, while others did not have the proper IT equipment or even a suitable workspace. Organisations are addressing these unprecedented work challenges on a case-by-case basis by demonstrating empathy, being supportive, and offering more work flexibility.
Accelerated digitalisation to boost business agility
With the Covid-19 crisis, HR administrative management and employee training had to suddenly be done remotely, which required quickly supplying employees with the right digital tools. The pandemic also caused an increase in new projects, thus accelerating project deployment. It is in situations like these that adaptability is vital in order to maintain business efficiency.
Reflecting on the meaning and purpose of work
For many, the lockdown and global health crisis have been a time for reflection. We are questioning how we live and consume as a society, and the importance of work in our lives. Self-awareness causes us to reflect and question the meaning of work, as outlined in the study “The meaning of work, mental health and organizational commitment” by Estelle Morin, professor at HEC Montréal. The study underlines that meaningful work depends on several factors such as purpose, interest, morality, ethics, and work-life balance.
Preparing for a post-Covid world
We are all looking forward to a post-pandemic world, but we cannot expect it to be the same as it was before. With this in mind, how will the new post-Covid world affect HR?
- Getting everyone involved
Our post-Covid world is something we will have to build and create together. As things stand today, collaboration is the key to implementing the changes needed to return to work. These changes do not require, or no longer require, a top-down approach. Changes are decided on as a group and then carried out. Such changes encompass training, remote working, flexible working hours, and taking each employee’s career aspirations into account.
- Rethinking work
Out of all these new ways of working, working from home is the one that stands out from the crowd. It may not be possible for everyone, but it is an option for those having jobs that only require basic IT equipment and an internet connection. Although there are still some kinks to iron out, the number of employees working from home continues to increase. For example, after the lockdown was lifted, PSA, the French automotive manufacturer, decided to allow 80,000 employees to permanently work from home (Note: article in French).
- Using digital tools
Without digital tools, working from home would be impossible. A few digital tools that are essential for working remotely include:
- Chat and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams that help remote teams stay connected.
- E-learning solutions that offer everything from production and publication to off-the-shelf solutions like Talentsoft Content. These e-learning solutions facilitate working from home.
- Talent management solutions like Continuous Conversation to maintain and strengthen the manager-employee relationship.
During Club Talentsoft 2020, we brought together a panel of HR experts to share their insight about what a post-Covid world would look like. Find out more about their expert analysis and insights by downloading our e-book, “Developing Tomorrow’s Workforce Today”.