The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a great deal of disruption around the world. Businesses globally have taken a huge blow, with HR departments bearing the brunt. From furlough schemes to policy changes such as the introduction of remote and flexible working solutions, HR managers have had to re-think how they support and manage their workforce.
In this post, we will look at the role of HR departments and how they have had to adapt to COVID-19. We will also discuss HR’s role in crisis management and how HR management software can help you effectively and efficiently manage all your processes and policies during these ever-changing times of uncertainty.
- What Is a Human Resources Department?
- What is HR’s Role?
- HR Management During Covid
- HR’s Role in Crisis Management
- Factorial HR for HR Departments
The Human Resources department is responsible for managing a company’s most valuable asset: its employees. The concept of human resources dates back to the industrial revolution in 18th century Europe. Industrialists Robert Owen and Charles Babbage concluded that people were crucial to the success of an organisation. In other words, they believed that the well-being of the worker was critical to worker productivity. However, the term did not become popular until the period between the end of World War I (1914-1918) and the Great Depression (1929-1933). This was because a number of laws came into effect during this period (such as the Employment of Women, Young Persons, and Children Act 1920) which required businesses to comply with certain employment conditions.
Since then, the concept of human resources has expanded to include a vast array of roles and responsibilities relating to employees. Duties include hiring and firing, training and development, compensation, employee relations, policy creation and management, and regulatory compliance. HR departments are also responsible for strategically managing the culture and work environment of a company and promoting employee motivation and wellness. The ultimate aim of the HR department is to ensure that all employees are trained, supported and equipped so that they can undertake their duties to the best of their abilities. This helps to ensure the overall success of the company in reaching its goals.
At its heart, the HR role involves four main competencies: communication, analytical and critical thinking, employee relations and leadership. HR management involves all management decisions and actions that affect the relationship between the organisation and its employees. This includes contributing to a company’s strategic direction and using metrics to measure efforts and demonstrate value. HR departments serve as advisors, counsellors, administrators and coordinators. They support all levels of an organisation to ensure the smooth running of the company. The role of HR is becoming increasingly important as a well-managed department can boost business and directly impact performance and productivity.
HR functions include the following:
- Attracting, managing and retaining employees: includes creating job descriptions, conducting interviews and managing contracts
- New employee onboarding: welcoming new employees and providing them with all the necessary training, tools and information
- Staff training and development: basic training as well as succession planning and career development. Preparing employees for promotions
- Managing salaries, taxes, benefits and allowances
- Creating, updating and distributing corporate policies and procedures
- Ensuring compliance with all employment and health and safety laws
- Absences, annual leave and time-off tracking
- Performance management and reviews
- Leadership and team building
- Internal and external communications
- Employee relations, including conflict resolution and employee disputes
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on most areas of our lives. And the business world is no exception. Companies have faced huge challenges over the past year and have had to continuously adapt to the “new normal”. In order to succeed in this current climate, HR departments need to rethink how they define themselves and adapt to the new future of work. They need to ensure coordination, communication and collaboration across all business areas and adapt to shifting markets.
The HR role has changed in a number of ways since the start of the pandemic. Most notably, it has had to adapt to new ways of working. With many employees now working from home, HR managers have had to provide support options for where people work and when people work. They have had to design and implement new guidelines and practices for the organisation and distribute updated employee policies to cover all eventualities.
There is also a much greater emphasis on mental health support as an effect of the crisis. Employers have a duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of their employees. This includes mental health and well-being. Certain stressors are obvious, such as job insecurity and financial worries. But there are other factors you need to consider, including the impact of lockdown and ongoing restrictions such as social distancing and self-isolation. Perhaps some of your employees have suffered bereavement during this time, or they are anxious about returning to work after COVID. Or maybe certain employees are working longer hours in order to balance work with other responsibilities such as homeschooling. As an HR professional, it is now more important than ever to be mindful of the mental health of your employees. It is your role to provide support wherever appropriate.
HR is the backbone of any company. We already knew this before, but COVID-19 has highlighted just how vital HR departments are for organisations. It has brought to the forefront one of HR’s most important roles in the new normal: crisis management and providing support to employees. And many of the new roles undertaken by HR will live on after the pandemic has ended.
There are a number of ways you can support your employees, now and in the future of work:
- Establish a defined remote work policy that sets clear expectations for when team members are to be available and how they should communicate (email, Slack, etc.).
- Ensure employees have access to all necessary tools, platforms and servers so that they can do their job. Update your policies so that they reflect your employees’ new working environments.
- Conduct an HR audit of all policies and procedures to see if any other updates are required as an effect of the pandemic (such as changes to sick leave policies, payroll changes due to COVID furlough schemes or government assistance benefits, etc.).
- Provide open lines of communication with employees. Keep employees informed of any developments or policy changes that might affect them.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of mental health and well-being. Consider implementing flexible working solutions and shared roles. Make sure your employees know they can contact their managers or HR for support and guidance at any time.
- Recognise the importance of employee morale and motivation levels. Employees should feel that their welfare is a priority.
As we have seen, one of the effects of the pandemic is that HR departments are busier than ever. This makes it all the more important to find a software solution that manages and streamlines your most basic tasks so that your time isn’t taken up on mundane tasks like reporting and time tracking. A good HR management solution can take care of processes such as managing absences, leave, payroll, and contracts. This will leave you with more time to support your employees so that they can perform to the best of their abilities.
At Factorial we want to help you reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks. From payroll, to holidays and absences and tracking employee performance, with our one-stop HR solution you can automate and simplify your HR processes and focus on supporting and developing your workforce towards the new post-Covid reality of work.