Role of HR in Post-COVID-19 Workplace

The urgent and pivotal role of HR will be to ease and eliminate the problems COVID 19 has left in its devastating trail. The top priority will be facilitating remote working and employee health and well-being.


Johnny C. Taylor Jr., President, and CEO, SHRM, made a very interesting observation – he compared HR’s role now, in the COVID 19 disruption, to how IT professionals handled the Y2K problem. HR leaders need to step up and help businesses to get back on track in the post-Covid 19 world – and the planning for this starts now, dealing with the short term and long-term ramifications.

The pandemic has permanently changed the way we manage work, worker, and workplace. The urgent and pivotal role of HR will be to ease and eliminate the problems COVID 19 has left in its devastating trail. The top priority will be facilitating remote working and employee health and well-being.

Remote Working and an Enhanced Role of Technology

HR has so far been more of a service delivery function. Going forward the role of HR will need to be more agile so as to respond to employee needs quickly, communicate fast-changing HR policies clearly, and become an enabler of efficient two-way communication between employees and management.

HR will need to balance the human side and the digital side of the workforce. There will definitely be an increase in employees preferring remote working and virtual business interactions are going to become the new normal. As a result, the role of HR as an enabler will become even more prominent – this includes upskilling the WFH employees so that they work as or perhaps more efficiently than before, designing and implementing policies that ensure business continuity, keeping employees motivated when working from home. In addition, they will have to be provided flexibility in work hours as employees take care of children taking classes online as schools may not open immediately, or have to look after aging parents, yet another vulnerable age group.

Apart from managing WFH employees, HR will also face the challenge of building robust and integrated teams remotely. It will be HR’s added responsibility to make sure the teams remain engaged without meeting face-to-face or resorting to team building activities in the physical office space.

Many HR activities will be done remotely – recruitment, onboarding, training, and development, etc.

Effective use of Technology for Business Continuity

HR will need to aggressively bring in next-generation enterprise CRM and Human Capital Management solutions to facilitate the transition to the new normal. HR will need to put in place a work culture that will help restore the operational health of businesses as the lockdown is lifted. The aim will be to not only recover from this crisis but also make the organization resilient to future disruptions.

Communication and Engagement

In these times of uncertainty, HR needs to communicate transparently and frequently to ensure a smooth transition. Employees returning to work will look to HR for providing direction, motivating teams, and keep morale high. HR will need to use multiple channels of communication to synchronize the activities of employees working on different platforms and ensure communication between employees working remotely takes place regularly.

The pandemic has not just affected the economy, it has thrown into disarray the community at large and it is left to HR leaders to instill confidence in their employees and make them feel valued.

Upskilling employees for new roles

As new work norms are put in place, employees will need to learn new skills, engage in cross-training to fill lacunae in knowledge, and ensure the organization functions effectively. Apart from enhancing efficiency, this will also have the added benefit of the employee feel valued by the company.

Employee Health and Well-being

HR leaders are the custodians of talent and their priority is to focus on employees. One of the biggest contributors of stress will be the constant concern for job security. Social distancing will have to be practiced for a prolonged period leading to potential mental health issues as a result of isolation and loneliness. Physical and financial fitness too contribute to employee productivity. Earlier these were “nice to have” perks provided by “evolved” employers. But going forward comprehensive well-being programs will become a necessity to ensure high employee productivity and engagement. A company providing holistic wellness benefits can expect greater loyalty from employees.

The uptick in the Advocacy Role

HR leaders will also have to step up their advocacy role and work with the government to help put in place labor laws that support the new normal, for example, laws on layoffs, employees working from home, employees in the gig economy, etc.

As in previous disruptions, companies that evolve and adapt fast will succeed, and HR will be right there paving the way.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Tags assigned to this article:
Role of HR Post-Covid-19 workplaces Swati Thakur shrm india


Around The World