Guidelines for HR Professionals in 2021
Over the past year, HR too has had to deal with our modern version of the Big Bang. We all adopted a ‘new normal’, to use a trendy term. Hopefully 2021 will be better. Thanks to the vaccine - fingers crossed - we shall soon be getting back to our social lives and be able to meet our colleagues and customers in person again more often. The after-effects of the coronavirus will continue affecting HR developments in the year to come, however. We hereby present the most important insights and trends for the new year.
Stay close to your people
Lockdown or pandemic fatigue, pick your term. Either way, the first months of 2021 will be a struggle, as we shall not be returning to our familiar lives right away. That is despite the fact that we are all looking forward to that. Furthermore, employers will be likely to face situations in which only some of their employees have been vaccinated.
It will be a challenge to balance what we knew about work before the virus hit against we experienced during the crisis. Will offices remain deserted or shall we be back to dealing with the same familiar traffic and stress-related issues as in 2019? Now is the time to create a plan and determine the right balance for your employees. Listen to them, stay in close communication and attempt to discern their wishes as to their future work.
Bear in mind that labour mobility will start rising again. Nearly everyone has remained loyal to their employer during the crisis. Once the economy recovers, those people who entertained doubts about their current job during the lockdown will look further afield again. To that end, stay close to all your people, do not leave their questions unanswered and ensure that you know what is happening on the workfloor. Are they eager to be back in the office or have they embraced teleworking? How will you deal with the legacy of the coronavirus in the workplace? Do not be tempted to ignore it. Instead, be proactive and establish the best working conditions for your human capital. Pay special attention for any new employees who started via virtual processes and have only ever met their colleagues on video. Be sure to offer them a real-life welcome as well.
Draw up an overview your workforce
Many HR professionals have dreamed of having an overview of all their employees' skills and abilities for years. More than ever, this is the time to do something about it. The coronavirus crisis will continue to affect our business world for a while yet, nor can we rule out a resurgence. Intelligent CEOs and heads of HR cannot afford not to learn the lessons from the immediate past and not be prepared for a fresh round of disasters.
To be prepared, there are three questions to which you must be able to answer. Do I have a good overview of my employees? Do I know what we lack in-house? Can I use training to develop these skills myself or must I source them externally? Create a clear overview of what talents are available in-house, a sort of LinkedIn, where you have multitalented people who are ready to advance and what the gaps are.
Healthcare is in sore need of more staff these days. Why not have multiple hospital groups collaborate so they can make optimal use of all their employees' capabilities as needed? If Hospital A has a shortage of nursing staff, for example, perhaps Hospital B can help. Setting up such arrangements can provide you with much more flexibility in the future. The usefulness of this exercise extends far beyond the medical sector.
Assign new value to the human aspect
The coronavirus crisis has encouraged further digitalisation in many areas. Teleworking, banking, shopping… There is an expectation that everything can be handled or purchased by smartphone or through our desktops. Nevertheless, the human aspect remains important. Banks understand this. Though they are expanding their apps, they also offer personal service.
At some point, physical contact will start gradually gaining in importance again. While Zoom or Teams are the only viable options right now, once the vaccine has been rolled out, we are going to prefer to deal with thorny or controversial issues face-to-face. E-mail and video calls have proven their efficiency, but they are not ideal channels for delicate conversations.
It is advisable for HR departments to digitise simpler administrative processes, such as expense claims, holiday requests and process approvals of all kinds. HR professionals should not be wasting their valuable time on standard procedures. The hours freed up by this digitalisation can then be applied to coaching, solving problems and preventing escalations. It is no longer a case of digital versus human, but digital plus human. The human aspect deserves to be valued anew.