Covid-times have brought to the fore the shortcomings of the traditional workplace. Organizations are relying on HR to deal with new age disruptions like lack of engagement, employee retention and motivation. The solutions adopted by the most successful HR teams?—Go agile while helping employees re-skill and up-skill.
“The pandemic has resulted in people getting more stressed and less engaged at work”—American Psychological Association
“An agile workforce has emerged as a key differentiator between successful and non-successful organizations” — Accelerating Workforce Agility and Resilience - Aon
Organizations that focused on helping their employees upskill were ahead of the competition and more confident of the future — PwC Talent Trends 2020
The millennium has brought with it extraordinary advancements. There are no technological borders anymore and projects have gone pan-global. Forrester terms it as ‘customer obsession’, and what an obsession it is, indeed! The customer is the king and everything an organization does is geared towards giving the customer, who is the most important stakeholder, an unparalleled experience. The bar has been set high, and organizations have to scale up to survive and grow in this competitive market.
But the convergence of all these expectations can take a heavy toll on the workforce. Just as innovations are being introduced at break neck speed, so are millennial employees expected to out-perform and bring to the table new skills that will fuel the innovation needed to meet new-age customer demands.
Add to this, old management styles, hampered by processes and policies that are now termed ‘old school’ can seriously stagnate any form of innovation and progress. Today’s extraordinary circumstances, be it the economy or the COVID crisis, has put the spotlight back on the drawbacks that are holding back organizations and people from reaching their full potential.
Some of the challenges faced by human resources are as follows:
Lack of Agility: A monolithic human resource structure is not nimble enough to keep up with changing ideas and business solutions. Fast changes in the environment, markets and employee attitudes require policies and processes that help in taking quick decisions and implementing impactful solutions. Remote working has changed the work landscape and forced HR to re-think employee allocation, potential and adaptability. A non-agile workforce is unable to adapt to or support change, and this skill-gap has become more conspicuous in the remote working scenario. Research by McKinsey indicates that agility has the potential to improve the customer experience by up to 30 percent.
Lack of Employee Engagement: The millennial workforce is a new breed altogether. They have a different set of expectations, a different vision and different motivations.
The COVID situation has further deepened this divide and the HR cannot engage the workforce as before. Changing the status quo and addressing this individualistic workforce is a major challenge. Successful employee engagement leads to a more motivated staff that is empowered and puts the focus back to where it needs to be—on the customer.
An analysis by Mckinsey showed a 20 to 30% financial improvement with improved employee engagement.
Decreasing Productivity: According to a research study by Ernst and Young “around 70 per cent of the organizations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity”.
Managing the remote workforce, re-prioritizing processes and solutions and helping employees cope with newer working technologies and models is a challenge for HR in most organizations. According to the survey, “less than 35 per cent organizations are prepared if the crisis escalated and less than 10 per cent have undertaken contingency and scenario planning.”
Lack of Collaboration and Cross- learning among Team Members: It’s not always a team that is super talented or the most brilliant that completes a successful project, but one that is most collaborative.
For an HR team, ensuring this collaboration could well be an unprecedented challenge. As projects go global and team members spread across the world, the HR team has to make sure that people from different cultures and diverse languages collaborate efficiently and implement improvements to meet organizational objectives. A lack of collaboration between team members creates silos, inhibits the process of continuous learning, teamwork and commitment and breaks the business value chain.
Long-term Impact of Remote Work on Collaboration and Organizational Culture:
According to a survey by Harvard Business Review, as teams become more remote, there is a decline in cross collaboration.
Sure it also helps to have team mates who will join you in your coffee breaks, but collaboration is more than that. It’s about sharing work, knowledge and experience. Interaction and team activities help enhance collaboration. Collaboration leads to innovation. Collaboration fosters not just the team spirit but enhances individual confidence and contribution. But having team building activities can be a challenge when working remotely. The HR needs to be more proactive in establishing a collaborative culture and ensuring that the process of cross learning remains continuous.
HR is more than just recruiting and policy creation. In today’s world they are a key partner in ensuring organizational success. And it is the HR that recognizes and fosters talent through a process of continuous learning.
“It’s about getting the best people, retaining them, nurturing a creative environment and helping to find a way to innovate”, says Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo.
A nimble and pro-active HR is the cornerstone for an organization to remain relevant in these stressful times. Being able to recognise change, accepting and adapting to it will be the key differentiator between success and failure.
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