HR or Human Resources refers to the people who work for an organization and the economy in general. However, the HRM team or the HR department in a company is a skilled team of staff who are responsible for identifying, recruiting, and managing the human resource of a company.
With the Covid 19 wave, there has been a huge shift in the way human resources management operates. With prolonged nationwide lockdowns in countries and the health threats, organizations have faced pressure to change and adapt their strategic plan accordingly. The HRM has also faced many challenges while planning ways to manage human resources amidst the lockdowns.
What is Human Resource and Human Resource Management?
Resources refer to anything or supply which serves as a form of an asset when the situation demands it. No organization runs without its staff and employees, thus human resources are one of the primary assets for an organization. Since human resources are so important for organizations, organizations have a separate department responsible to manage and plan human resources for the company which aligns with the objectives and the vision of the company.
Importance of HRM/HR (department)
Even though HRM is a relatively new department in the corporate culture, its importance cannot be undermined. Many organizations have recognized HR as a crucial aspect for them to be successful. Here are a few reasons why the HR department is important in a company.
The HR manages and communicates with the employees both as a group and as an individual.
HR bridges the gap between the objectives of the company and the performance output from the employees.
HR helps the employees feel safe and secure at work.
The HR department plans to hire and recruit human resources who are a perfect fit for the company.
HR helps establish an ideal organizational culture.
The HRM team creates a balance between the company’s expectations and the employee needs.
The HR supervises and manages employee performance and continuously builds strategic plans to boost efficiency and effectiveness.
HR brings the human aspect and warmth in the harsh environment of the corporate world.
The HR bridges the communication gap between the senior management team and the staff.
HR leads tasks like orientations, training, employee evaluation, appraisal, and benefits, etc.
Especially during the time of the pandemic, the HR of the company has the most important role in managing all the human resources in the company and ensuring their wellbeing.
Common HR practices before the pandemic
The way the HR department operated before the pandemic was way different than it is now. Physical and social interactions were normal. People did not have to wear masks and stay 6 ft away from each other.
Events, collaborations, engagement programs were held with big crowds without a sense of danger or a risk of losing a life. Covid 19 has brought an unexpected shift in the work culture worldwide. People have lost their lives, businesses have failed and everyone has suffered. Here are a few points on how the HRM used to operate before the pandemic.
The majority of employees were required to come to the office for work.
The engagement and output were measured and recorded in offices by the HR department.
Many fun activities and programs were conducted in the office with a large crowd.
Meetings by HR were held face to face.
The work schedule was fixed and the work hours were strict. Less flexibility was allowed to maintain discipline.
All the employees would work together and have face-to-face interaction.
Counselors and nutritionists were not as much in demand since there was no mental and physical threat from the covid.
The pandemic has brought a sense of collaboration between all departments of the companies which the HR department works on by conducting various programs.
The company's objectives and plans were based on physical and face-to-face modules. HR had to adapt and re-plan many objectives with a more digital approach later.
Collaborations and engagement programs were not preferred to be done virtually before the pandemic.
Interviews and recruiting processes were done face to face by the HR department.
HR trends during the pandemic
The end of 2019 marked the beginning of a pandemic that has changed the world forever. Millions have lost their lives and the global economy has experienced a huge shift due to the pandemic, lockdowns and a halt in trade; and the crisis is still not over. With the second and potential third wave coming our way, managing the human resource in a company has been and still is a huge challenge in Nepal too.
Due to enforced lockdowns, businesses have been shut, faced losses and there is an economic downfall. On the other hand, people are getting sick, there is a shortage of food, emergency supplies, and money. There is an overwhelming pressure to maintain the income for the company while being able to contain and take care of their human resources during the crisis.
To combat and adapt to this unexpected situation, the HR departments of many organizations have come up with a few solutions which have helped them survive the pandemic. The most popular HR trends during the pandemic are listed below.
1. Increase in remote workers: Since there was a huge risk of the rapid infection of the virus and lockdowns were enforced, the HR in companies have maintained their work by making a majority of their employees remote.
2. Expansion in data collection: HR has been collecting data from remote employees digitally. Since the employees are not in the office under the supervision of HR, keeping records of effectiveness is a challenge thus regular meetings and frequent data collection have been done.
3. The demand for contingent workers: Freelancers, independent contractors, etc have been in demand since the pandemic as the HR department is hesitant to commit to having long-term permanent employees in this time of uncertainty.
4. The transition from efficiency to resilience: During the pandemic, there have been cases where the employees have left the company due to lack of support and companies have fired employees due to lack of income. In this scenario, the HRM of many organizations has moved to making the human resource resilient and creating a balance. By providing covid related support and practicing compressed workweeks, the HRM has tried to create a collaborative feeling between all the employees and has built a strong team.
5. More purpose-driven: The activities have become more purpose-driven during the pandemic. The well-being of the employees is prioritized by HR. Companies have invested in service-related activities and their CSR during the pandemic.
6. Digitalization of collaboration and engagement: Unlike a few years ago, today, the HRM conducts and organizes most of its programs through digital platforms due to the pandemic. Meetings between collaborative partners and other parties are conducted via zoom, google meet, etc.
7. Employee benefits: The HRM has introduced various benefits for the employees during the pandemic such as free PCR tests, mental health counseling, health care services, food, and supplies, etc.
8. Reskilling for multipurpose: HR has been providing upskilling training to their employees to help the company with multiple tasks since hiring new permanent employees is not the best option.
9. No more rigid work schedules: HR has allowed its employees to work remotely and the work schedule is flexible. During this time of uncertainty, having a flexible work schedule helps the employees manage their time.
10. An effort to maintain motivation and efficiency: Despite being limited to digital platforms, the HRM has still managed to conduct regular meetings, motivation sessions. Virtual engagement programs and so on to maintain motivation and efficiency during the pandemic.
11. Kindness and compassion over income: With the effort to build resilience within the company, the HR department has created a culture of kindness and compassion between the senior management team and the regular staff. This has led to the sustainability of organizations during the pandemic.
The pandemic is still not over and at what cost the virus will leave us is uncertain. However, the HR department has been able to sustain and adapt to the situation with strategic plans. Since the virus is a threat to all humans, the Human Resource Management team is more crucial and necessary than ever.
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