It feels as if it’s almost over. The pandemic, for all of its craziness and unpredictability is beginning to show signs of fading. While normalcy as we once knew it may never return, the fact is that the worst part of this crisis appears to be behind us, leaving HR and businesses across the world to figure out what comes next and what work is going to feel like going forward.
This period has forever impacted how we work and how we see work fitting into the rest of our lives. For the foreseeable future, organizations will be searching for their footing and establishing new ways of working, new norms to shape their collective cultures. Along the way, there will be a great number of challenges for to cope with. Here are six we think are going to play a key role in determining the functions of HR and the way work gets done in a variety of organizations and industries.
- Not Falling Back into Old Ways
As people come back into the workplace, it may be tempting to try and put the events of the last year behind you and try to rekindle the culture and atmosphere our offices enjoyed pre-pandemic. But the fact is that in the course of a year, people change. From their perceptions to their wants, needs and expectations, people now see the workplace and their work lives in a different way. There simply is no putting this genie back in the bottle. Trying to return to the days of old will have serious consequences for organizations as a large percentage of employees have indicated they will look for new work should employers try to make them spend 40 hours per week in the office again.
- Staying Flexible
Companies will have to remain flexible and be willing to engage employees around issues of workplace policies and culture to ensure they remain appealing. Flexibility is no longer some fancy soft benefit employers can use to lure millennial workers under the guise of work-life balance, it’s a need and an expectation for workers of all ages and backgrounds. For working parents, flexibility is fast becoming a key component in how they make their work fit into their lives and support from the organizations they work for is going to be highly valuable to those people.
- The Evolution of Skills
The pandemic has shifted the way many companies business and at the same time put a lot of people out of work. Many of those folks do not wish to go back and many of the aforementioned businesses require people with different skills than they did just a few years ago. This evolution of desired skills means companies now have to support the development of the workforce both internally and externally. Internally, their L&D programs will have to drive development of new skills and identify people for emerging roles and leadership opportunities.
- Re-imagining Recruitment Processes
Whether it’s the unbinding of work to geographic location or changing the way we interview, vet and screen people, companies are having to rethink the recruitment process for a couple of reasons. First is the adaptation to the era of remote work, allowing candidates to interview virtually in a process that is smooth and transparent as a signal of company culture and values. Second is a greater push for diversity. Reliance on traditional methods of recruiting, screening and vetting tools such as the resume are going to have to change if companies are going to create a workforce that reflects that our society more accurately.
- Remaining Focused on Wellness
Wellness, and in particular mental health, has become a key priority for employers in the last year. As we slowly shift into a post-pandemic world, it will be important to keep a close on wellness as employees deal with yet another change. There continues to be a great deal of uncertainty for many employees when it comes to the health of loved ones, their job security for the future and high levels of general anxiety surrounding world events.
READ: Employee Wellbeing: HR’s Guide to an Engaged and Adaptive Workforce
- Getting Real on DEI
There are few issues that companies can ill afford to get wrong more than diversity, equity and inclusion. We’ve reached a time where people expect results, particularly younger generations. There is a feeling that the time has come to address systemic issues that perpetuate cycles of discrimination and inequity and for HR professionals, one of the biggest challenges of this year and the years to come will be ensuring that their organization’s practices put them on the right side of history this time.
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