While our world has been turned upside down over the past six months, we’re beginning to experience a new normal in a post-pandemic marketplace. While the economy may take some time to recover, now is the time for HR leaders to consider re-evaluating HR processes, procedures, and systems in support of the company for the remainder of this year and into 2021. However and whenever we return to our workplaces and business offices, we will forever be impacted by this year’s shift and change.
During the pandemic, we’ve seen 40% of the workforce working remote with an additional 2% being essential workers who had to work from the office. Employees have become accustomed and have adapted to working from home as their new normal. A recent Gallup poll reports that “Now that some of these employees may be able to return to their workplace, it appears only a quarter are emotionally ready. Another quarter are reluctant to return specifically because of concerns about contracting COVID-19, while half have a personal preference for working remotely.”
Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, said, “Seventy-seven percent of the workforce say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over.” Lister estimates, “Twenty-five to thirty percent of the workforce will be working-from-home multiple days a week by the end of 2021.”
What this means for you and your team as you audit your HR processes:
The pandemic has amplified digital platforms, mediums and methods by hundredfold. Today, they are your primary option for engaging candidates and employees. Because many employees are no longer face-to-face every day, businesses that can pivot their internal communications strategy are the ones that will earn the trust – and productivity – from their people. Digital tools like employee communications platforms are key to reaching your employees and candidates with the most relevant information.
In a post-COVID world, HR and business leaders can re-imagine the company structure and scheduling options allowing for a wider talent pool and flexibility. This includes how the future workplace state looks for not only people but also processes, support, and training for employees and leaders in person as well as remote. Offering an option to work remotely is no longer a perk; for many employees it is essential for safety. This means HR takes the lead to train managers and company leaders on how to best hire, onboard, and support a mostly remote workforce.
The digital transformation initiatives we launched in the early days of the pandemic are no longer temporary transition tools. Remote teams are required to be more connected, to improve their communications and to better align their strategies. Collaboration results in improved efficiency and increased productivity, but even if you have a small percentage of employees working remotely, having the technology in place and normalizing its use is imperative to the success of your company.
Part of being able to support a remote workforce means that we must offer employee benefits like telehealth and home office stipends along with a greater focus on mental health. As we’ve discovered in the past several months, working from home is not the same as working from home during a global pandemic. Benefits that support employees who are not physically situated in your office location are crucial.
The shift to remote work creates an opportunity for talent acquisition to reach candidates outside of the immediate geographic area. Your recruitment focus should shift from immediate need to predictive hiring, meaning that you can begin sourcing for roles you know you’ll need to fill 2-3 months ahead of time, and do so from a broader talent pool. This ultimately saves time by creating a ready pool of candidates for outreach for backfilling or filling new roles, as you’ve built relationships with a much larger candidate base through recruitment marketing.
All of the above simply takes into account what you and your team learned during a crisis and applies it to what the new normal is expected to be on the other side of this pandemic. The companies that have been able to pivot and shift immediately into digital communication and implementation of new tools and technologies are also going to be the most successful in terms of employee engagement, retention, recruitment, and employer brand.
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