Revising the Role of HR during the Pandemic – Part 2


Wellbeing and Work-Life

Holistic Wellbeing: An individual’s wellbeing is not just physical health. It is also about cognitive and emotional health. You, as an employer, have a significant impact on the well-being of your employee. Furthermore, being isolated for an extended period, such as in the case of WFH, can cause employees to experience mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and panic. HR can offer support through employee assistance programs mindfulness, nutrition, and financial counseling. The channels of support the organization provides are beneficial for the employees. Nevertheless, when employees feel valued and supported, they return the favor by bringing the best of themselves in terms of productivity and performance.


Work-Life: Work is part of life and a full life includes opportunities to contribute to worthy causes through work. The pandemic has reinforced and sometimes instilled those values that empathize with work-life balance. It has renewed opportunities to offer flexible working, childcare, and additional work-life options. Most companies have reported that they will continue some form of WFH and HR must explore options for where people work, when they work, and even the extent to which they are supported in the home-offices in terms of furniture and ergonomic needs.


Administering HR Systems

Employment, Compensation, and Benefits: HR is the department that holds the reigns to these systems. This includes layoffs and as far as they are concerned, HR can ensure empathy and implement equitable processes when they are inevitable. Additionally, the best HR strategies include increased flexibility through options to change work status from full-time to part-time or shift retirement plans. They have also addressed compensation plans such as unemployment benefits, workshare programs, commission-based schemes, and more.


People Analytics: HR is the one department with employee data at arm’s length. They can be the most helpful in making the company leadership understand the employee experience and recommending responses to the changing employee needs. This makes HR the primary source of information on which the leadership can lean towards to make robust decisions.


Policy Development: Before the pandemic, a typical HR department draws up a couple of policies a year. However, the pandemic has necessitated a change in this approach. Numerous businesses have had to establish new rules and regulations in alignment with the changes in legal requirements issued by the government. Regardless of whether it is new policies or written FAQs, which provide consistency, and clarity, HR must respond quickly to develop these broad inputs from stakeholders.


The Re-entry back into the Office Space

Welcoming employees back to the office after an extended period of WFH was new territory for companies, one in which several businesses have failed. The re-entry into workspaces after the government-implemented lockdowns has been one of the causes for multiple waves of outbreaks in various countries. For what it is worth, HR has the responsibility to ensure safe, efficient workplaces. Identify the functions that can be carried out without constant physical presence and only bring back the employees who are unavoidable at the premises, such as the receptionists or productions staff. Everything from entering the building to circulation patterns and elevator usage will be important to consider. All of these will need to be administered with sensitivity and as much employee choice as possible. It is not possible to have all the answers but be ready to listen and act to ensure that your employees feel safe and earn their trust.


To conclude, HR has a fundamentally influential role in shaping the success of organizations through and beyond the pandemic. They have to take the lead in reimagining our traditional organizations, developing talent strategies, addressing well-being and work-life balance, and administering HR systems as they are critical and unique contributions that only HR is equipped to make.