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Earlier this year, we took a deeper look at the impact of Covid-19 on HR professionals. Indisputably, the pandemic hit everyone hard, but it was particularly challenging for Human Resources departments who navigated unfolding change and made sense of it for themselves and their workforce. Eighteen months later and the roadmap to recovery is looking a little clearer. HR professionals now have a better idea of expectations, and the confidence has grown back within the job market with 59% of HR professionals actively looking for a new role.
So, has the pandemic changed the landscape of HR forever, and are there new skills needed as an HR professional post-Covid? Read on to discover some of the key skills needed and regarded by prospective employers.
In times of uncertainty, it's crucial senior leadership and HR heads are open and transparent as trying to conceal risk can often create more. Make sure your business has a clear communication plan which is visible to all parties, including front-line managers, so they understand what their role is communicating this downwards. You could also consider creating a news channel in the workplace to provide credible and timely information, and combat misinformation from the media which may be shared amongst teams.
You will now know the protocol when responding to Covid cases at work, but are you educating employees about Covid-19 symptoms and prevention? Consult with occupational health partners about evidence-based prevention of infection in the workplace and identify your most at-risk employees to prepare them for alternative work arrangements where necessary. Caring for your workforce should be your first priority.
Consider the risks to the business and plan for various eventualities to ensure the business runs smoothly in times of emergency. For example, make people feel comfortable with the notion of another national lockdown by having a clear and transparent plan for the shutdown and restart of operations. Consider how you would communicate this with all workers and parties, reroute operations, and create a checklist to determine when employees can return to work. Are workers equipped with laptops? Do they have mobile phones? Or, is there a process that allows these to be sent out to employees?
Whilst all employers must promote protocols that prevent risks such as infection, they must also ensure people understand their part in following these protocols. For high-risk individuals who have been in close contact or travelled to affected areas and may suffer monetary loss if they were to self-report, you must outline the consequences. HR professionals could also look at ways to bridge income loss to further incentivise employees to take ownership.
Attention to detail
When reviewing policies and procedures such as sick-leave programs, statutory leave, and eligibility criteria for medical leaves of absence, you will need to be meticulous. Strike the right balance between protecting sick leave from abuse and protecting the general workforce. Where there are grounds for undertaking formal action, you must ensure the correct procedures are followed and there are processes in place that enable teams to continue to do so virtually i.e. right to work checks.
It’s easy to forget that HR practitioners are humans who are impacted by stressful situations like everyone else. So while responsible for the care of others, it’s vital you take care of yourself. With HR at an increased risk of burnout and disconnect since the pandemic, it is not only detrimental to an individual’s mental health but also the overall wellbeing of an organisation. Identifying the need for a designated point of contact for HR support and the resources available to you in terms of external support groups and wellbeing is a great way to evidence you can walk the talk.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, HR leaders have played a central role in keeping the workforce engaged, productive and resilient. As we grow confidence in responding to unexpected events, the next step for HR professionals is to turn their attention toward prevention and recovery. Prospective employers will want to see the above skills demonstrated to determine whether you’re capable and equipped to navigate future uncertainty.
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