How COVID-19 Has Changed HR As We Know It

Earlier this year, the world changed when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. How we interact with the world, how we spend our home lives, and how we work all look different than they did before. With many businesses adopting remote work and the need to take extra precautions that we never would have seen coming in January, the HR world is no exception to change. Let’s take a deeper look at the long-term changes you can expect to see in the industry for years to come.

Tech Will Be More Important Than Ever

The world got a crash course in Zoom work and socializing this past spring—but the tech changes don’t stop there. With so many people working remotely or having to distance within a workplace, the technical bonds are more sophisticated—and more demanding—than they’ve ever been. For HR, that means finding more programmatic ways to do the work of recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and training.

HR professionals are working from home too. That means more interviews will be conducted remotely, and many of the boots-on-the-ground activities will be too. Teleconferencing, digital recruitment, and data-based candidate analysis will play more of a role in hunting for and hiring new team members.

Remote Work Will Open The Recruitment Field

For many jobs, geography is a barrier. Qualified candidates are often limited to locals or those who are willing to relocate. Now, if an organization is embracing remote work, it’s not as essential that employees be physically close to the office. That means HR can do broader outreach in recruitment to seek out passive candidates who might not be willing to pull up stakes and move but would be a good fit for a team that can manage its work from a COVID-safe distance.

Employee Health Screenings Are Likely Here To Stay

A year ago, a workplace requiring a somewhat invasive health survey before employees step through the doors would have seemed draconian. Now, having your temperature screened before you walk into a public venue, or having someone ask you for confirmation of a negative test result, is just part of the process. COVID screenings may become the new drug screening when it comes to employment.

HR’s role in that will be ensuring that new hires and existing employees are made aware of these new health and safety requirements. Potentially, employment contracts will contain explicit clauses about testing and on-site public health measures, as well as clauses that pertain specifically to a pandemic like this one.

Training Will Be Key To Adapt To New Practices

So much of the new employee onboarding process relies on simply being in the room. Whether it’s education about benefits or processes or sitting with team members to learn the basic expectations of the job, the teaching component is huge. HR should expect to plan more open houses, webinars, and digital meeting opportunities to guide employees through best practices.

For organizations that are returning to in-person work, employees will need to be trained on how to operate within those guidelines. Open office plans were the wave of the future—until open-air environments became a public health liability. Navigating a literal maze of plexiglass barriers and a figurative maze of how to socially distance while collaborating is going to require a lot of extra care and guidance by the HR team.

Attention To Government Guidelines Will Be High Priority

Over these pandemic months, guidance from state and federal governments has seemed to change frequently—not to mention conflict with other local guidelines and generally confuse everyone. HR will be more responsible than ever for interpreting government-ese to make sure that your organization is compliant with best practices and is doing all it can to protect the health and safety of employees, customers, clients, and everyone along the way.

COVID-19 threw the world into chaos—and after months of trying to figure out what our new world will be like, most organizations are ready to move into the next phase. Things may look and feel different, but one thing never changes: HR leading the way. HR professionals will be the first line of defense when it comes to interpreting CDC or state/local guidelines and finding ways to keep the organization safe and productive.

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