Calibrating HR Models for A Changed World

06 October 2020

There’s going to be turbulence in the months ahead. That might even be selling it short. We’re probably due for at least a year of considerable… let’s call it “movement”, as the world regains its footing.

That prediction can be pretty broadly applied to the world as a whole, but we’re mostly referring to the corporate sector and, by extension, to the United States business world/economy. Companies are dealing with two (at a minimum) matters concurrently:

1) How to continue selling their wares, serving their customers, and otherwise managing their operations in a lockdown/COVID landscape.

2) What to do with employees who are either working remotely, adapting to new onsite safety policies, or possibly contending with home stress brought on by distance learning, health concerns, and so on.

In both cases, the HR department has a role to play, though a much larger role with the latter. Specifically, employees are likely to bring new needs and/or requests to the table. It might have to do with childcare or a modified schedule to look after an elderly parent. Perhaps it’s a matter of needing unpaid time off or voicing questions regarding available healthcare plans. In whatever way these things show up at your door, you need to be prepared with sensible responses to increasingly specific circumstances.

As we’ve explored previously, remote work isn’t going anywhere. The phenomenon has created too many questions and definitively answered several which no company should ignore. Employees in numerous industries can effectively fulfill their responsibilities from home, from a coffeehouse, from a relative’s house, from the car wash’s customer lounge, from a mobile device while awaiting a flight, and so on. The notion of needing to be seated in a designated space - a lengthy commute away from home - to do one’s work isn’t holding water as it once did. But beyond the positive aspects of that realization, there are also policy matters for HR and corporate leaders to consider, one of which has to do with ensuring employees are not overworking themselves by overlooking the need to “unplug” at a reasonable hour.

You’ll also want to be prepared for personnel fluctuations. As your employees confront lockdown-related matters on the personal front, you’re likely to experience some turnover. People might be looking to move, take on more responsibility, less responsibility, or even no responsibility. You may end up in a backfill situation during a time when the interview/hiring process is operating under a different set of rules. Having the right technologies and onboarding equipment on-hand and ready will serve you well as the headcount figures ebb and flow. Interfacing, new hire paperwork, payroll setup, benefits – all of this has changed to different degrees just this year. Adapt wisely and thoroughly to meet those changes effectively.

Management figures and HR departments will also be faced with unprecedented shifts within their scheduling framework as employees reconcile personal obligations with normal business hours. School-age children, a spouse’s new hours, adapting to a client’s strange lockdown schedule – all sorts of variables could impact a given employee’s availability, at least in the short term. Ensuring you have the right coverage and the best tracking tools in place to maintain accountability will minimize the likelihood of performance shortfalls.

Think now on all the business and personnel-related changes you’ve been handling since this past spring and ask yourself the following: Are you prepared for the ripple effects those changes are certain to create?

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