How COVID-19 is Changing Human Resources

By BKS Employee Benefits Advisors

man engaged in video conference with colleagues on laptop

The COVID-19 pandemic has upended the entire world, it seems. With fluctuating infection rates and conflicting official guidance, organizations have had to adapt quickly to succeed in the coronavirus landscape.

Human Resources teams stand at the forefront of these efforts. For years, HR departments have been tasked with ushering in fundamental workplace changes, and this moment is no different. The pandemic has forced HR teams to explore new solutions to help their organizations succeed. 

5 Ways COVID-19 is Transforming HR

1. Remote Work Opportunities

When nonessential businesses shuttered due to COVID-19, many couldn’t function at all. Only organizations with some remote-capable workers were able to maintain operations. This is spurring business leaders to consider allowing employees to continue working remotely after the pandemic eases. Technology giants like Twitter and Facebook have already signaled that they will extend remote opportunities to employees who want them.  

Employers should consider whether there are areas where they can expand their own remote-working roles. Having at least some employees who can work from home enables adaptability if the workplace must close suddenly. Such arrangements can also reduce costs, especially if they allow a business to reduce its office footprint and pay a smaller lease.

2. Mental Health Benefits

Reopening your business does not erase the hardship endured by your colleagues during its closure. Colleagues may still be grappling with mental health issues that can impact their performance when they return to work. Even workers who’ve been working throughout the pandemic may be suffering from mental health issues that cause them to burn out.

Employers are taking steps to reduce the mental health burden of their colleagues. Many are already offering mental health benefits, including counseling and access to health professionals. Some businesses are simply working with employees to accommodate their needs. This may include offering flexible scheduling, reduced work hours or other holistic approaches.

3. Virtual Training

Employers have been eager to maximize their virtual capabilities since transitioning to a remote-first work environment at the onset of the pandemic. Virtual training is another way they’re doing so. This training is just what it sounds like: colleague learning is conducted online through an app or other virtual platforms. With more colleagues working remotely, this type of training makes the most sense.

Even employers with no remote workers should consider virtual training. It reduces face-to-face interactions (critical during a pandemic) and can improve retention. Organizations like Walmart, Home Depot and Best Western are already using virtual training solutions. Expect more companies to follow suit.

4. Virtual Interviews

Virtual interviews are the safest option during the pandemic, but will likely remain a popular solution for employers post-coronavirus as well. Virtual interviews can save time and resources for both employers and candidates since there is no commute or meeting space.

Virtual interviews can also help employers draw from a larger talent pool since many people primarily search for jobs online anyway. Many job seekers frequently use websites such as LinkedIn, Indeed and Handshake. The ability to recruit from one of these sites, then seamlessly move to a virtual interview, could help employers hire talent faster.

5. Reskilling

Reskilling is perhaps the most significant way COVID-19 is reshaping HR at the moment. Colleagues will need to learn brand new processes, workflows and standards to function in a post-coronavirus workplace. These elements may include stricter hand-washing guidelines, social distancing protocols and updated client-interaction policies.

Some employers are going beyond health protocols and opting for a holistic approach to training. Organizations like Amazon and AT&T are investing in training solutions to ensure a more dynamic, capable workforce. These training efforts may include developing social skills, resiliency, critical thinking and other soft skills. By improving these qualities, employers are investing in their workers and, ultimately, providing a better overall product.

These are only some of the ways COVID-19 is changing the HR landscape. As more challenges arise and circumstances evolve, employers will need to adapt to remain competitive. Speak with your Advisor to discuss workplace strategies that can help keep you ahead of the curve.

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