Navigating the “new normal” imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic has challenged human resource leaders to address a whole new set of issues, from an almost exclusively remote work force to concerns about retention.
Overall, the flexibility and adaptability COVID has required of leaders has resulted in greater innovation when it comes to both seeking out and keeping great talent in the tech industry.
Here are five areas of focus for human resource leaders and hiring managers during COVID recovery, and what it means for companies, potential and current employees.
1. Crisis management – Despite an initial surge in the early months of the pandemic, drops in job postings across tech positions have indicated slower growth. As a result, human resource leaders have helped executives and managers take reductions in salaries to keep their teams intact, thus avoiding the high costs of hiring and firing.
According to Forbes, companies have “reduced budgets, supported the introduction of smart and remote working and have activated welfare initiatives and extra support to families” in order to keep team members happy.
2. Flexible work arrangements – In addition to COVID paving the way for additional remote work options, it’s also accounted for greater flexibility in hours and conditions. Leadership in human resources has helped foster greater autonomy among employees and a less hands-on approach, contributing to overall greater employee well-being.
One survey from Adecco found that “75% of workers stressed the importance of retaining flexibility over their schedule post-pandemic.” Managers were also in alignment, with 75% of executives stating they were in favor of “revisiting the length of the working week” with a similar number believing it’s important for parents, especially, to have flexible work arrangements.
3. Employee communications and morale – Leadership has also spent a lot of time keeping team members motivated and productive. Team-building has been especially important, as activities like Zoom lunches, happy hours, and employee game nights have increased in popularity.
Managers have also begun addressing employee mental health in new ways, especially as rates of depression and anxiety have risen since the pandemic. “Workers are expecting more out of their employers; they’re looking for help with topics they would have never asked for help with before,” including school, tutoring or caregiving, said Colleen McHugh, executive vice president of the American Health Policy Institute and strategic advisor for HR Policy Association.
4. New resource pools – Even though it’s a tight market in tech, the switch to remote workers has increased the resource pool by allowing leadership to consider candidates outside of a given geographic area. In addition to introducing new employment laws, managers have also had to navigate additional time zones and schedules.
5. Employee safety – Perhaps the most obvious focus for managers and leadership is employee safety, especially on-site physical safety. In addition to state-mandated safety precautions, they’re also weighing what a return to the office/hybrid work-from-home model would look like following COVID.
Are office spaces set up for social distancing? Are employees going to want to return to the office? What type of PPE will be needed for individual employees and what adjustments will need to be taken for each workstation? Professional cleaning teams are also a top priority as on-site work resumes.
Despite greater challenges and many more things to balance for leaders, the innovation COVID has required has led to some key benefits for employees and a greater spirit of cooperation from executives. As the new normal continues to evolve and progress, flexibility and a greater attention to employee well-being will continue.