HR leaders worldwide have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways, resulting in a complete transformation of our workforce today. Yet, the transition to an entirely remote environment was not easy for many individuals and still may be challenging to navigate. As HR leaders continue to introduce new strategies and processes to their organizations, the need for new technology and resources intensifies. Now more than ever, it is crucial for HR teams to make the right decisions and understand the long-term effects of these changes to stay ahead of the COVID-19 curve.
In our recent panel discussion, HR Panel: Overcoming Obstacles, Planning for What's Next, leaders spanning industries including healthcare, retail, government, and technology dove into the toughest challenges they faced and ways they've adapted throughout the pandemic. Here are a few takeaways from the panel.
Dealing with Burnout
For decades, mitigating employee burnout has been a challenge for many businesses, regardless of the size or function of their organization. With many employees continuing to work from home, the effects of burnout have become top of mind for HR teams across the globe. According to a recent study by Flexjobs.com, "75% of workers have experienced burnout, and 40% of those polled said it was a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic." While burnout isn't entirely avoidable, HR leaders are creating new tactics to reduce their employees' exposure.
One of the biggest concerns Corey Berkey, VP of HR at JazzHR, shared was understanding how to encourage their employees to take care of their physical and mental health while also maintaining a healthy work-life balance. He shared, "Our team was able to recognize burnout but not able to cope because their coping mechanism was to step away from the business and take a week of vacation or spend time with the family, all of the things that were typical go to's were now gone."
Whereas Kayla Meyer, Senior Director HR, at US Radiology Specialists, stated that burnout has remained prevalent within the healthcare industry for a long time, and it continues to worsen as more and more demands are put on their frontline staff. Despite the varying effects of burnout, our panelists shared the following strategies to manage burnout within their workplace:
- Incorporating employee engagement surveys
- Scheduling weekly virtual happy hours
- Encouraging open communication with team and discussing best practices
- Providing childcare opportunities to parents
- Offering employee assistance programs
Preparing for Hybrid Work
As leaders prepare for a post-pandemic recovery, new discussions emerge about what our new normal will look like, what plans and policies should remain in place, and how to respond to major threats. Specifically, transitioning towards a hybrid-work model has been challenging to tackle as employees are unsure whether they want to return to the office. According to a recent study from SHRM, "55 percent of workers surveyed said they prefer working remotely three days a week. Meanwhile, 68 percent of U.S. executives said workers should be in the office at least three days a week, citing concerns that company culture will not survive a purely remote work model." While there might be a disconnect between employees' and executives' opinions, organizations must accommodate both conditions. A few ideas leaders should consider are:
- Investing in better technology for virtual conferences
- Determining if your employees prefer a dedicated workplace
- Setting up a safe plan for employees to return to the office
- Team trainings to create a better virtual work experience
Possible Surge in Turnover
Sooner or later, the economy will return to normal, and employee turnover may begin to take a toll on all kinds of businesses. According to Human Resource Executive, "1 in 4 employees plan to leave their employer after the COVID-19 Pandemic." This event alone can put many organizations at risk as it creates a more competitive environment to retain and attract talent. Erin Talbot, PHR, sHRBP, MPA, VP of HR, at Diamonds Direct shared, "We are focusing on how we can advertise our culture and making sure that once we bring somebody onboard that it is done quickly and making them become part of that family right away so that they feel valued and have a voice." Overall, HR leaders should focus on:
- Improving scheduling and work flexibility
- Listening to employees’ needs
- Managing employee recognition programs
- Developing a succession plan
- Embracing company culture
In The End
In just a year, our world flipped upside down, and as time progresses, more people become anxious about when they can go back to their "normal" life. But no one knows what the future of our workplace may look like in a year from now. It is most important to stay informed throughout these difficult times and continue to readjust our current strategies that adapt to our environment. Nonetheless, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for HR leaders to follow, so it is important to do what's best for your organization. For more tips and insights, replay our recent webinar, HR Overcoming Obstacles, Planning for What's Next, to hear more about our panelists' experiences and other lessons they've learned during the pandemic.