The Human Resources role has been well documented across different organizations; primarily centered around promoting and advocating corporate values and policies like adaptability, openness, and thinking outside the box. Now is the perfect time to set an example and adapt to a reality that for many of us, is completely new and without precedent.
This worldwide challenging situation that has hit the entire market, social interactions, work and personal life represents a complete change of perspective on how to perform the talent management process.
Historically, a fundamental aspect of the Human Resources role has been to promote company culture and create a favorable working environment for employees to feel happy, productive, and engaged with the firm. And how’s it going now when we no longer have common physical spaces or face to face interactions? This heightens the awareness and further pushes the process towards innovation; which becomes difficult when uncertainty is the only certainty.
However, on a positive note, even if for the time being, the approach is reactive, the opportunity to innovate and understand the importance of promoting fully remote working environments opens the door for growth, distributed teams, virtual teams and a strengthened concept of operating globally.
Work From Home: How to Adapt Operations to Navigate the Crisis
Existing Human Resource policies and procedures should be reviewed in the context of the new reality. It doesn’t mean that your team should refuse all the well-intended and established practices, but they should be adjusted for the remote work environment for you to stay in the game. In the process of learning this new Human Resources path, we want to share some actionable tips that have worked for us and helped us retain the positions while accomplishing the desired goals.
The feeling of uncertainty is global. Keep that in mind and understand that your employees need regular communication and updates about the company. Define suitable communication channels and frequency to address their doubts or questions. Human Resources teams should work closely with leadership teams to create a cadence of informal meetings and teambuilding activities with the use of online tools. HR must promote frequent one-on-one’s and be available for their people. Open “chat” forums and timely answers provide employees a sense of engagement, stability and job security.
At TEAM International, we use Microsoft Teams as our primary communication tool for all work-related tasks. Along with that, we’ve introduced weekly meetings with all staff. Prior to the meeting, we share a simple Q&A form where all employees can ask different questions, share ideas, or concerns. During the session, managers and executives answer the questions and concerns or discuss the suggestions. This is a very nice and informal way to stay connected with all employees, keep them engaged, and manage the uncertainty levels.
The onboarding process requires special attention during the pandemic. A job change is already scary and challenging for many, so imagine adding this variable to the equation. Considering this, it’s important to keep constant communication with the newcomers, share information, legal documents, contracts, and everything related to the hiring process before the start date or in the early working days. Draw up an agenda for the first days and constantly follow up to make sure all necessary information for the role is properly yielded and communicated. If your budget allows it, send an onboarding kit to the new employee’s house to make them feel welcomed and needed.
Amid the COVID-19 times, we’ve added a cool strategy to our Human Resources program — namely a buddy/mentor initiative. In essence, each newcomer gets an assigned person at TEAM who’ll bring them up to speed on the project, tasks, policies, or goals, depending on the department. We start by scheduling an informal 30-minute call and share some snacks during the meeting. Afterward, we hold regular calls when the need arises. With this initiative, new employees feel more comfortable and can experience and get to live some part of our culture even while working from home.
Currently, it’s a great time to level up skills, promote training spaces, and take advantage of the technology and the online resources available. Such an approach empowers companies to emerge stronger from the pandemic and thrive in the post-coronavirus business world. Start by identifying the required skills for your business recovery, create a training calendar, set times that work for most of your employees, and motivate them to share their knowledge and learn new things. Human skills and technical resources managers may also design personalized learning journeys to address crucial skill gaps.
For instance, our learning and development manager held L&D coffee breaks for all of our locations — global training on how to interact with people and share knowledge about various personal growth topics. This is just one good example of how to take advantage of digital technology and remote work to promote training inside your teams.
Social distancing not only poses challenges to teamwork but also can make many individuals feel left out and low-spirited. For many of us, colleagues are the primary source of day-to-day human interaction, so working from home may turn into a total nightmare. We understand that it’s a new situation for everyone, and it requires time and additional measures from the Human Resources Department.
In general, managers should allow time during the working hours for employees to connect, share thoughts, and provide-obtain support over personal matters. Start by creating socialization spaces for your employees to interact in a “non-working environment” and keep up camaraderie. Schedule casual one-on-one meetings, group microbreaks to play games, and interact with teammates from other departments or locations. Online Beer Fridays (of course, after hours) with charades or other games and fun contests to switch the routine are a nice choice.
When it comes to TEAM International, we can pick out two socialization strategies that people like most. The first one is the meme Fridays. As the name suggests, every Friday, we exchange memes via our communication channels, and the one with most smiling reactions gets a prize. The second one is the group blind dates. All the HR members choose five people from different departments and create a Microsoft Teams calendar invite. Usually, these are 30-minute calls for employees to take a short break and interact with teammates they probably don’t get to talk to that often.
Return to Offices
Even though we wish for it, workspaces, business, and life won’t return to the ‘traditional normal’ anytime soon. We’ll have to get used to the new reality that is now often called a ‘six-feet economy’ due to social distancing rules, room occupancy restrictions, and other policies.
Human Resources role in managing the coronavirus response at an organization is pivotal. Consequently, it’s critical for managers to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements and continuously find ways to support their employees and facilitate their transition to the ‘new norm.’ For those leaders who do not have a well-defined talent management strategy amid the corona-crisis, we provide comprehensive Human Resources consulting services to efficiently navigate them through these dark times.
At TEAM International, we’re already getting back to our offices. We’ve started by conducting a survey asking employees about their WFH experience and willingness to return to our offices. Based on the results, we’ve identified several groups and decided to get back to our usual “normal” workplaces gradually. Each “rotation” is thoroughly analyzed by our HR Department before any new rotations will be performed. Additionally, we’ve taken all of the recommended and necessary precautions to protect our workers and their families.
Finally, one thing is for sure, the sooner you start preparing for the six-feet offices, the better your chances of success.