Coronavirus HR is a totally different ball game to human resources management in any other age leading up to this one; that much is for sure. The pandemic has forced businesses to reinvent the wheel when it comes to how they do just about everything as they set about addressing business recovery in the wake of the many upheavals of 2020. 

This spans the gamut from how employees work to figuring out how to manage emotional well-being in the workplace and structuring safe and compliant workspaces. Some had to downsize dramatically or hire rapidly as companies pivoted to deal with an unpredictable economy.

Behind all these sudden shifts, HR teams were working in the trenches of new, uncharted territory, taking the unexpected and urgent workforce shifts in their stride. And for this, we salute you! In so many ways, HR heroes have been the glue holding businesses together as we navigate this unknown landscape. 

With the workplace undergoing rapid transformation and digital acceleration during lockdown, we’ve seen many innovations spring to life at the hand of HR practitioners. Below are just some of the ways these heroes have given their employers another day to open their doors. 

Five Ways HR Practitioners Have Pivoted Heroically To Address The New Normal

1. They’ve Let Go Of Old Systems and Built Brand-New Ones

According to global industry analyst Josh Bersin, HR practitioners had to jump to coordinate their organizations’ responses to various important aspects of the employee experience when the pandemic hit. This included health and wellbeing, working remotely, job continuity, as well as support to promote mental resilience in the workforce.

There was also a realization that many of the main pre-COVID-19 processes were no longer that important. Instead, HR championed rapid reshuffling to help their business put together complicated systems, such as the remote working programs rolled out by large companies like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs.

2. They’ve Collaborated With Peers To Establish Best Practices

The HR community also had to band together and work more collaboratively as everyone looked to establish best practices in the face of the new normal. Uncertainty and urgency created a space in which previously unrelated disciplines had to overlap to find solutions. In short, it created an environment where HR professionals had to shift focus and collaborate.

In working together to facilitate effective crisis response, the community as a whole has started to generate exceptional new tools and educational resources that seek to address public health, workplace dynamics, and more. Freely sharing data and information with each other has empowered many HR dynamos to generate the mobility to move forward at a time when the pressure is well and truly on.

3. They’ve Made A Case For Investment In Remote Working

Working from home seemed like a utopia for many people until they actually had to do it. When many employees had no other choice but to shelter in place with their families while continuing to do their jobs remotely, it quickly became apparent they weren’t set up for it. Many did not have the emotional and physical tools to maintain a good balance.

This is why forward-thinking HR practitioners have been making the case for investment in remote working to help dispersed team members settle into this new groove. Big companies like Microsoft have responded by offering their employees training on how to work from home successfully. This included guidance on setting up a workspace, getting connected, managing their time, etc.

In fact, Microsoft was generous enough to make their document template available online free of charge so other organizations can adapt it for their own use. Click here to download the amendable PowerPoint document. This resource is also an excellent reference for managers who have to support remote team members and may be doing so for the first time themselves.

4. They’ve Advocated For Worker Wellbeing

There has been a widespread move to advocate for workforce well-being beyond an annual blood pressure test and really get to the root of what people need to be healthy and happy in the workspace. In this area, HR has been fighting in the front lines, mainly because they often view the casualties of undue pressure and stress first-hand during exit interviews, one-on-one meetings, etc.

Some of the preemptive wellbeing practices that have emerged of late include creating resource groups for remote workers and the implementation of more frequent senior town hall meetings and check-ins. Health specialists are also being brought in to host online Q&A sessions, and new watercooler opportunities have been established for workers to connect with each other even when they work apart.

5. They’ve Promoted The Adoption Of Digital Solutions

As businesses lean into the brave new economy emerging in the wake of the ongoing pandemic and lockdown measures, it’s simultaneously fueling the Fourth Industrial Revolution, based on smart tech like AI and mobile supercomputing. In fact, some HR leaders are viewing the pandemic as an opportunity for their companies to reinvent. 

Products, services, and business models have been reconsidered, and as employees have reskilled and retrained, fresh new ideas have been coming to the fore. All of this has served as an accelerator for corporate reinvention and the rapid adoption of new technologies that make the workplace more efficient and rewarding.

Everyone understands that we’re looking toward a new normal. Working together to figure out where we’re going, especially in the workplace where we spend such a large portion of our lives, can be quite exhilarating if we allow it to be.

Final Thoughts

Being in HR in the time of the coronavirus is a tall order. HR practitioners have had to pivot heroically to address the new normal. This included letting go of redundant systems and beliefs and collaborating with peers to establish best practices going forward. These stalwarts have also had to make the case for investment in remote working, advocate for worker wellbeing, and promote the adoption of digital solutions.