Rethinking how you do HR

By Karin Tierney

Roy T. Bennet once said, “change begins at the end of your comfort zone.” I don’t know about you, but the labor market since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but comfortable. We have been witnessing what has been termed the “Great Resignation” with employees leaving the workforce in large numbers. Employee expectations about compensation, benefits, and clear career growth opportunities are on the rise. Employees are demanding greater flexibility in how, when, and where they work. Employees simply want more from their employer and they aren’t afraid to look elsewhere to find it. With organizations struggling to recruit there are plenty of other options available to top talent.

Organizations are under additional pressures to be market leaders in diversity, equity, and inclusivity as well as organizational commitment to social responsibility. All of these expectations existed before, but organizations may have felt less pressure to deliver results. Organizations across the U.S. are scrambling to develop new programs and workplace initiatives to remain competitive. Human Resources is under incredible strain to provide the necessary tactical support and strategic leadership to meet the new and continuing demands in order to attract, engage, and retain the best talent.

HR has had to get used to wearing the hat of “COVID Coordinator,” navigating new, complex, and changing regulations at the state and federal levels. HR has been on the front line trying to prevent exposure in the workplace, chasing increasingly dwindling sanitation and cleaning staff options, and attempting to reassure anxious employees and clients about health and safety protocols in place for their protection. HR continues to be there to sort out disagreements and tensions flaring about mask and vaccine requirements in the workplace.

Many employers continue to allow fully remote, or hybrid working arrangements to prevent exposure and accommodate employee requests for flexibility, when these options were previously unavailable. HR and leadership teams are forced to adapt and adjust to navigate the new complexities of managing performance and motivating a stressed workforce who may not all be on site. Motivating and engaging work teams requires new skills, different expectations, extreme resilience, and an expectation of hyper vigilance to effectively communicate and remain connected.

All of these new and evolving pressures have caused employers to rethink their approach to HR – to recruiting, onboarding, compensation/benefits, employee engagement, progressive discipline, leadership development, performance management, and retention strategies. What may have worked for an HR model in 2019 is no longer sufficient and organizations must reevaluate, adapt, and be nimble as the pandemic continues and the workforce as we knew it, no longer exists.

Contact us for assistance with evolving your approach to HR.

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