2020 is gone, Covid-19 hasn’t. As we look back on 2020 and start 2021, we understand that many of the problems we experienced in 2020 due to the pandemic will continue well into this year. While HR teams across the globe have taken the challenges head-on and have shown immense resilience amidst all chaos, there are still key challenges HR Leaders will have to face this year.
Lack of face-to-face connection has increased the number of calls and zoom meetings. While virtual lunches and coffee breaks are a solace, they fail to provide the same level of connection as meeting face to face at the office, causing the risk of isolation and fatigue.
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed the way organizations function. From complete work from home to work from anywhere, from virtual onboardings to virtual farewells – the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses function and employees work in just a few months. The year 2020 has seen it all and provided the much-needed nudge that forced organizations to adopt technology and innovate to survive.
While HR’S around the globe put their best foot forward to ensure that the change management is smooth and employees adapt to the new ways of functioning, there are a few apprehensions/ challenges that the HR team will still have to face and plan to tackle this year as we bid farewell to 2020 and begin 2021 with expanded coronavirus restrictions and glimmers of hopes of a cure for COVID.
Attrition Rate Might Increase
The pandemic slowed most of the businesses down, bringing recruitments to a rude halt. Many organizations rescinded campus and other job offers and employees focused all their attention on ensuring that their jobs were protected. However, with the news of the vaccine doing the rounds, there is an expectation that the job market will start to recover slowly but steadily. Employees will start scouting for better opportunities again causing a spike in the attrition rates. HR teams will need to relook at their benefits and perks policies in addition to finding ways of intrinsically motivating employees.
With work from home practically melting the difference between office start time and end time, employees are increasingly facing burnout risks which can have significant consequences like excessive stress, fatigue, etc. Lack of face-to-face connection has increased the number of calls and zoom meetings. While virtual lunches and coffee breaks are a solace, they fail to provide the same level of connection as meeting face to face at the office, causing the risk of isolation and fatigue. HR teams will need to come up with new and innovative ways to keep employees motivated and engaged in the new year, for example, no meeting day or mandatory days off to help employees recoup.
With the lockdown opening up, a percentage of employees have started returning to their workplaces while others plan to do so by March – April 2021. One of the biggest concerns for the HR team will be to ensure the safety and hygiene of the employees working out of office locations. In addition to ensuring that employees stay vigilant in ensuring that social distancing norms are followed at the workplace till each one of us gets vaccinated, a standard protocol in terms of setting up action teams and isolation rooms will have to be taken up to tackle any employee showing symptoms.
The lockdown made organizations more comfortable with the idea of anytime anywhere working, which came with its own set of pros and cons. With the vaccine around the corner, organizations will have to take a call on whether to tweak their policies to allow permanent work from anywhere even after the pandemic is over or to go back to their old ways of working from an office location. While companies like Twitter and TCS have taken a call to continue with work from home to reduce infrastructure costs and allow flexibility, many others are yet to take the call. Besides, organizations may need to relook at existing medical benefits to include more in-house counselling and therapy support to employees to deal with anxiety and burnout.
While 2020 has been a rough roller coaster ride, it has also taught us some important life lessons. Above all, it has taught the HR fraternity to take challenges in its stride and rise to the situation. While we all remain optimistic, it’s practical to assume that 2021 will not solve the pandemic situation overnight. It’s imperative that we have an action plan in place to face expected challenges.