The pandemic has adversely impacted the regular functioning of employees and businesses. The forced, sudden changes gave little time for leaders across functions to come up with robust, comprehensive policies at scale. Immediate priorities were to ensure business continuity and the welfare of employees. HR leaders had to come up with flexible programs that were unheard of in the past. 

2021 is going to be unique. It is a year of hope and uncertainty. On one hand, the promise of the vaccine and on the other, newer strains of the virus is putting pressure on the scientific community and nations at large to ensure the spread is contained and lives saved. From a business perspective, the economy is picking up at varying degrees, still creating uncertainties, with expectations of the same levels of output from employees.  

HR driving the 360 Degree change: Human Resource leaders have a pivotal role to play in this ever-evolving business scenario. Typical components of the employee life cycle management (employee 360) of Attracting, Recruiting, Onboarding and Training is not the same anymore. 

HR leaders need to conduct a microscopic study of existing processes and draft up the next-gen policies that will help them navigate the wave. These policies will need to incorporate tangible and intangible features. 

  • The tangible ones are easier to draft. These will include actions in the form of policy creation around benefits, leaves, benefit schemes, work from home anywhere allowances and such actions.
  • It is the intangible ones that are difficult to articulate. These are the ones that touch upon the physical and mental wellbeing, ultimately creating a positive mindset.  It calls for frequent assurance from leaders, implementing organization initiatives and ultimately creating resilience in employees. As HR leaders, in 2020, while we created the policies to help them navigate the medical treatment of the pandemic, not much emphasis has been given towards building resilience in them, making them stronger and tougher from the inside and provide avenues to express themselves freely. The typical coffee breaks wherein employees could confide and speak with their colleagues is a thing of the past. We need to identify mechanisms in the virtual world where the informal mode of employee exchange is made possible. 

2021 – The Year of building resilience

2021 presents HR Leaders a unique opportunity to relook at the employee life cycle, discard dis-policies of the past and look at creating a framework that has the culture and core policies at the core and a nebulous set of frameworks which will work in the virtual world. 

The below listed top 10 HR resolutions will serve as a broad framework in structuring the foundation of the decade:

  1. Workplace of the future: Drive the hybrid model of work from office and working from anywhere with the right mix of who will work from where and the duration. Additionally, build sufficient controls and safety measures to guarantee workplace hygiene.
  2. Leadership support for positive vibes: Instill a culture of Leadership support and actions that enhances trust, seeks feedback, provides assurance, support, and empathy.
  3. Frequent regular communications: Provide regular organizational updates to all stakeholders.
  4. Innovatively engage employees: Conceptualize and implement newer ways of employee engagement. Ensure physical and mental wellness, widen the scope of engagement to not only the employee but also their families.  
  5. Right Reward and timely communication on Appraisals: Timely communication on performance reviews and hikes. Structure people evaluation models with equal weightage for their potential and market factors. 
  6. Work-Life Balance: Ensure timely breaks to prevent burnouts and have mechanism in place to support to employees to be productive at pre-pandemic levels of output.
  7. Culture of Continuous Learning: Facilitating the learning need of employees and draw a continuous personal development plan as a part of upskilling, with a personalized approach. 
  8. Continuous feedback from employees: Seek feedback from employees at frequent intervals to improve process and communicate actions taken. 
  9. HR Analytics & HR Competencies:  Use Analytics to make robust decisions on the employee life cycle events and people development.  Upskill HR teams with competencies to manage remote work practices. 
  10. New Tech Implementation: Explore and implement new systems for a faster turnaround, supporting the new ways of working which will be efficient in the new work context. 

In summary, the above should help build the organization of the decade by bouncing back from the current uncertainty and navigate the path to success. It should be a self-sustaining model comprising self-assured, motivated employees, leaders at all levels and HR leadership ability to craft employee engagement programs that will withstand and bounce back from any unforeseen setbacks. 

The article has been originally published in SightsIn Plus.

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