HR Challenges and their Evolution after the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Challenges are inevitable in all companies and jobs. They are also essential because they give us the motivation to learn more and hone our skills. This is well illustrated in the challenges of HR, which make this position one of the most demanding in the company.

The obstacles HR staff face are different every day and help them become better professionals. It may be company norms, employee grievances, new hires, etc. However, amidst these many obstacles, some HR challenges are more distinct.

These can be seen as fundamental issues that anyone working in this field needs to master. After all, the success of a company depends largely on the human resources department. They are in charge of a company's most valuable asset: the workforce.

Therefore, to fulfill this enormous responsibility, an HR professional must understand the day-to-day challenges of the job and the solutions. Here are six HR challenges in today's business world and how to address them.

HR challenges and how to address them

Rules and regulations

This is one of the top priorities for an HR professional: compliance with government regulations. In the dynamic world of business, change is the only constant. A company must therefore comply fully with them.

Failure to do so can result in heavy penalties and fines. This will not only result in additional expenses, but will also tarnish the company's reputation. It will then affect the hiring and retention of staff. You should therefore always comply with these rules and ensure that the company follows them.

Approach: To ensure this, all HR teams should always refer to the company rules in force in their respective countries. These rules are different for each country. For example, if you are in the United States, you should always consult the US Department of Labor for the latest regulations.

Hiring

Hiring is one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about human resources. Although it is not the only one, it is undoubtedly an essential aspect of the job. The success of a business depends largely on its workforce.

It is therefore crucial to have the best hiring strategies in place in the labour market to employ the best people. To do this, it is not enough to focus on skills alone. There are many other things: cultural fit, employee personality, career goals, etc. that an HR professional needs to look at.

The approach: To find the right person, the recruitment team has to check many things. These include skills testing, past work experience, future goals of the candidates and the personality of the employee. To implement these elements, recruitment tools are a great help.

Due to the rapidly changing business world, it is not uncommon for HR teams to use a third party for this process. These third parties are recruitment specialists who place temporary or permanent employees with companies when necessary.

Changes in company rules

Change is never easy, but that is the nature of business. To stay afloat, a company has to adapt, and that means change. It can be assumed that the workforce will not accept all these changes with full support.
Sometimes these changes can lead to favouritism in the workplace, new difficulties in the work, disruption of the team balance, etc. The HR team has to ensure that these changes are implemented. The HR team needs to ensure that these rule changes are made smoothly at such times.

Approach: To meet this HR challenge, you need to be transparent in your company's rules. Instead of making a sudden change, it is better to put the new rules on trial with a grace period. This will allow things to flow smoothly among the staff. It will also give them time to adjust to the changes.
Also emphasise the benefits of the change and how a change in the way the company works can help employees.

Employee training

Employee training and development programmes are an important part of grooming the workforce. Training is essential because it reduces the costs of hiring new specialists for each new position. It also helps to improve employee motivation.

The most common problem associated with this aspect is the resources needed to train team members. It is crucial to find the right course and the right person to train the workforce. If you don't, it will cost you extra money with no results.

The approach: One of the easiest ways around this HR problem is to set up a mentoring programme for senior and junior staff in the company. This works by having your senior managers coach the juniors, which has a double benefit.

Firstly, by mentoring juniors, senior managers can improve their communication skills. This will help them determine their leadership style and skills for the future. Secondly, the juniors are guided by industry experts in a cost-effective way, with virtually no additional expense.

Remuneration

Remuneration is an area in which HR staff are most often interviewed. It plays an important role in keeping an employee satisfied. It is important to keep them motivated while keeping salary costs under control. You must be extremely careful in this area.

The approach: Compensation does not always have to be about salary. Instead, you can design different employee reward and recognition programmes. This will compensate for your employee's hard work, without continuously increasing the payroll.

Indeed, incorporating a rewards program does not require adding to a worker's regular salary. Rather, it is a gesture of employee appreciation for a job well done. Not only will it motivate your employees, but it will also improve their engagement.

Employee retention

The last item on our list today is the problem of employee retention. This is an important issue, because while hiring is difficult, so is retaining them. With a wide variety of employment options today, employees now have many opportunities available.

This means that if you don't treat them well, there are many other options that will. This is why employee attrition is becoming a real threat to businesses around the world. Not only does this turnover damage the work environment and productivity, but it also increases costs.

Approach: When it comes to retention, the first few days of onboarding are crucial because, as they say, first impressions are the last. A study shows that people hired with proper onboarding procedures are 58% more likely to stay on for up to three years than those without.

It is therefore essential to have appropriate processes in place from the first days of employment. These include having a structured plan, a proper job description, a job specification with tasks to be performed, mentoring and feedback.

The main HR challenges faced by managers due to COVID-19

HR professionals certainly did not imagine the challenges that COVID-19 has brought to them. Uncertainty has crushed the economy, employees are in stressful situations, and HR professionals are doing their best to keep everything in perspective and aligned. But is it as easy as it seems?

The sudden change in work culture has brought new challenges for HR. The top priority for HR professionals is now crisis response and how to keep employees engaged, provide the right communication channels and tools for remote working, etc.

Mental health and well-being

The sudden change in work culture has had an impact on the health and well-being of employees. Stress, anxiety and other mental health problems have always existed, and this is not new. Organisations have always had wellness programmes in place and provided employees with the security, health benefits and flexibility to help them overcome their health problems. But the sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has brought employee mental health issues to the forefront.

When your employees work in an office environment, you at least understand their pulse and their sensitivities, which helps you enormously in solving problems. But when employees work remotely, the lines of communication are significantly compromised, leaving managers clueless or at least less aware. In a recent COVID-19 survey, HR professionals around the world responded that worker health and well-being was a major concern.

Managing telework

The transition to a remote working culture is not as easy as it sounds. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, less than 50% of companies had a telework programme. Banks, regulated industries and many financial services companies did not encourage teleworking. Today, almost all of them are rushing to develop telework strategies.

This has led to many undiscovered problems. Human resource managers are trying to put in place seamless paths and strategies to overcome the difficulties it creates. Strategies are no longer designed periodically or in advance but in real time. The focus on productivity and employee engagement has shifted to immediate responses and diagnostics. It's about providing employees with the right tools and collecting real-time information from them from time to time to untangle the meanderings and provide support.

Here is a podcast by Shashi Kalyanpur, thought leader and mental coach, on managing the mental health of employees working from home:

Lack of agility

One of the main reasons for the difficulties faced by HR teams is a lack of agility.

Many HR teams are not designed for agility. And this greatly affects HR professionals. In this crisis, it is essential to react quickly and act fast. But there are a lot of approvals to be made before action is taken. This slows down the process of gathering data and taking immediate action that a crisis requires. Becoming more agile in approach, reprioritising business objectives and getting the right communication and alignment between middle and upper management is the need of the hour.

Communication with employees

Communication is another major challenge on the priority list. Communication, in itself, is an essential aspect that needs to be addressed, whether the workforce is working remotely or not. Without the right communication channels, it becomes difficult to manage a workforce. The COVID-19 crisis has put HR professionals on edge and pushed them to look for the right remote working tools for their culture. While tools like Zoom or Slack are commonly used to meet workforce needs, they are certainly not enough to get everyone on the same page.

HR teams are more or less doing their best by sharing:
  • Updates on the measures adopted by the organisation,
  • Updates from business leaders via email or video,
  • Links to valuable external information sources,
  • Ongoing communication on HR policies related to the crisis,
  • And through health conferences and training sessions.

Uncertainty

Uncertainty can paralyse anyone. The daunting feeling of not knowing what the future holds or what steps to take to maintain the organisation's operations is a huge challenge. We are all affected by uncertainty to a greater or lesser extent. Employees are affected mentally, not knowing what the future holds, and HR teams are struggling to make everything fit. To respond to the crisis and develop effective measures and strategies for all.

Employee engagement

The ultimate goal of the company is the productivity of its employees. It becomes difficult to keep employees engaged when they are working remotely and, moreover, in times of crisis. Internal communication is compromised, and it becomes difficult to keep everyone on the same page. With remote working, it is difficult to follow a routine and even to exclude a systematic workflow. When teams are multi-functional, you have little power to manage them. Not keeping them regularly informed or holding meetings/sessions can have a huge impact on their morale.

It's up to you

If you are an HR professional or manager facing these challenges, we would love to hear from you.

You can write to us in the email below and give us more information about HR challenges and the steps you are taking to overcome them. We would love to continue to update our article with the valuable information you have and keep the communication thread going for everyone.

Looking for a HR Software? Try IceHrm today. Enjoy their 45 days of free trial to experience all the modules in IceHrm.

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