After a tumultuous period of disruption, many businesses have begun to look ahead. Many are recovering from significant revenue and profit loss and widespread redundancies, furloughs and pay cuts.
Others saw business boom, particularly in the ecommerce and technology space.
Regardless of what end of the spectrum your business falls, one thing is clear: HR is a necessity, especially during periods of rapid change. For HR professionals and business leaders, it’s important to take stock of lessons learned.
Here are five ways HR is pivoting businesses to the future.
It’s never been more important to keep in touch.
Steady communication from leadership is paramount in keeping teams engaged and motivated. An ADP study has found that trust in leadership is by far the most effective driving factor in employee engagement, with workers being 12 times more likely to be fully engaged if they trust their team leader.
However, in the same study, Singapore recorded one of the lowest employee engagement rates in the world. Only 11% of Singaporean workers said they felt fully engaged at work in 2020, against a global average of 14%. Employee engagement was also on the decline even in pre-pandemic days: the engagement level dropped nine per cent between 2018 and 2020, compared to a global decline of only one per cent.
Trust is built through honest, regular communication, which can boost job satisfaction and allow employees to feel more empowered at work. As low engagement can result in increased talent attrition over time, HR can mitigate this by introducing structured check-ins in between monthly or quarterly townhalls.
This ensures that employees get support from their direct supervisors to do their day-to-day work, and that organisational culture and goals that are set from C-suite can be scaled to every level of the company.
Learning and development must go on.
In an ADP survey of Singaporean workers, around 70% indicated that the responsibility for upskilling and retraining workers should be shared across governments and companies – as opposed to falling solely on either one. Beyond government-initiated support, companies need to start thinking about how they can create a future-proof, self-motivated workforce.
As restrictions ease up to allow colleagues to regroup, organisations should adapt learning programs to harness internal insight and expertise, with a focus on helping employees take ownership of their learning. For example, if there is a training program that many people in the business have completed previously, former trainees could run the session for the next intake.
You can cast a wider net when recruiting.
Remote working is here to stay for many employers. This means physical location is becoming less relevant when it comes to job opportunities, which opens employers up to a whole new world of prospective employees. The frustrations of a sustained skills shortage or not being able to improve cultural diversity can be overcome by opening up to the world at large.
This is not to say the opportunities are limitless or without challenges. Time zones and language barriers are two hurdles to overcome. But a HR department that can reach talent overseas and bring them into a business that is genuinely equipped for remote working can consider the world its oyster. Innovation, agility and collaboration are the new demands, for employers and employees alike.
There are new health and wellbeing challenges.
Remote working seems to be working for many, but it is also blurring work/life balance. Even pre-pandemic, two in five Singaporean workers (39%) were doing around 6-10 hours of work unpaid every week.
In the same study, 72% of Singaporean workers also said they were experiencing stress at least once during the working week on a regular basis. Additionally, more than a quarter of Singaporeans (26%) said they would be uncomfortable discussing their mental health at work, which was much higher than the APAC average of 14%.
Chief Human Resource Officers are the eyes, ears and conscience of the business. Even if the worst is behind us, it’s a tough road ahead. Actions HR leaders should take now, if they haven’t already, to help staff health and wellbeing include:
- Training your leaders on how to manage a hybrid team of remote and in-person workers – this is new territory for many, and while the outputs may be similar, it’s a completely different way of working.
- Reimagining wellbeing policies and working practices, which can include flexible hours or the option to work from home, even after offices reopen.
- Creating a culture where short, regular breaks are acceptable and encouraged, moving away from the traditional 9-5 environment.
CHROs help weather the unknown storm.
The scale and shock of coronavirus has demonstrated that contingency planning is critical. While responding to COVID-19, CHROs also need to start planning and preparing for the next disruption. It might not be on the scale of a global pandemic but preparing for the unexpected is where CHROs prove their value.
This can be at a macro-level such as planning for the outcome of growing political tension and social unrest on the global stage, which could have multifaceted consequences on businesses across the APAC region.
Equally it could be far more micro, such as reviewing competitors in the space and whether your work proposition is tempting enough to retain your top talent.
In 2021, we will find many of the fundamentals of HR remain in place – but the delivery or focus has shifted. Organisations need to have the foresight to predict what the fallout may look like and plan for minimal disruption.
CHROs can emerge in 2021 as trusted advisors as businesses restructure to face their new reality and plan for shifts in the landscape.