How COVID-19 is Transforming Human Resources

Nearly every career has been impacted by the recent pandemic, but debatably none more than human resources. Human resources helps to manage the recruiting, training, and trajectory of a company’s staff – all which have changed drastically since the onset of COVID-19. According to a SHRM survey of over two thousand HR professionals, 83% have changed their business practices in the past few months, and it is uncertain if organizations will ever go back to business as usual.

Here are some common HR responsibilities that will look a little different in the coming years, and how your team can prepare to face these challenges:

1. Hiring

In the past few months, about a third of employees that had been working in-person transitioned to working remotely. To accommodate this transition, HR teams across the nation worked quickly to implement socially distanced hiring practices, such as virtual interviews, remote background checks, and online onboarding programs. For many organizations, in-person interviews and onboarding aren’t coming back any time soon, so ensure that your team is well-prepared to continue hiring remotely for the foreseeable future.

In addition to interviewing and onboarding, job descriptions themselves will have to change. When writing job descriptions, focus on abilities and characteristics that are suited to remote work, like independence, tech savviness, work ethic, and strong communication skills.

2. Training

Another aspect of HR that has shifted recently is employee training. Many companies are being forced to replace in-person lessons, seminars, and workshops with virtual counterparts. Online courses (created in-house or derived from sites like LinkedIn Learning or Coursera) and Zoom roundtables are great alternatives to traditional training.

Even when your company starts to return to the office, the content of your employee training might need to be refreshed. Social distancing guidelines, technology tips, and remote work etiquette may be added to the normal training content. Furthermore, work rules may have to adapt to a partially remote work environment, so make sure that your training is updated accordingly.

3. Company Culture

Keeping company culture strong and morale high while working remotely can be difficult. To keep a strong sense of community, HR teams will need to brainstorm new ways for employees to socialize. Virtual coffee breaks, online team games, remote birthday celebrations, and mentorship programs are all great ways to encourage community amongst your staff. Furthermore, be sure to celebrate company successes and emphasize your company’s mission statement to give your team a sense of unity during these trying times.

4. Diversity & Inclusion

Ensuring fairness and maintaining diversity at work will look a little different for companies that are working remotely for the foreseeable future. How can you accommodate disabled remote workers? How will you ensure that you’re hiring a diverse set of employees? Will you implement blind hiring practices or pre-employment tests? Where will you source your talent to ensure you’re reaching a diverse candidate pool? These are just a few of the issues that HR will have to consider as we enter an era of increased remote work.

5. Assessing Job Performance

Finally, as we see our coworkers in-person less often, HR will have to rethink how they evaluate employees, reward star staff members, and take disciplinary action. If you have an employee that you want to put on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP), it can be hard to monitor their progress and help them improve remotely. Likewise, praising a hard-working employee in front of your entire team is tough to do online. HR teams need to be prepared to evaluate, praise, and guide employees virtually.

According to Stanford University research, an astonishing 42% of our workforce is now working remotely. While flexible work has been a trend for years, the shift became more abrupt in the wake of COVID-19. This change will pose new challenges for organizations everywhere, but with the right preparation, your human resources team can handle these changes with grit and grace.