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Rethinking HR in the Post Pandemic World 

The Human Resources function has been brought into focus and is expected to deliver in these new changed times 

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Covid-19 was a black swan event, ithas changed the way humans live, work and play. It has ushered in an unprecedent transformation that has never been witnessed by humankind. The most revealing thing about this was the pace at which the transformation has taken place and is yet continuing for many. 

Businesses have pivoted at breakneck speed to try and survive and counter the effects of this pandemic. The pandemic created a fundamental shift in how we lead our lives and how we do business.The way business is going to be conducted here on has been altered forever and this has huge implications for the Human resources function. 

The Human Resources function has been brought into focus and is expected to deliver in these new changed times. Remote working and hybrid workplaces are now a reality for all organizations. Today the definition of an “office”has changed, it now means ANY place where work is being done and not THE place where work is done!The HR function will need to redefine everything right from structures, to policies, practices and processes.

The new normal is surely challenging many in the HR function but there are clearly some “Must Do’s”for HR that are now emerging:

  • Defining the New Normal & the new playbook for the HR function:

The pandemic has created shifts that were never anticipated. This in turn has rendered many HR policies, practices and even processes redundant. HR will need to quickly develop and implement a new playbook that makes it easier for the organization to manage their biggest resource – their people. It also needs to put in place practices that cover challenges of remote working and managing remote teams so that their people managers are clear on how they need to engage with their team members. This whole process will need to be done in consultation with the business and not in isolation to ensure that the real challenges are addressed while keeping them agile and open to change if needed.

  • Building New Capabilities within the workforce that is needed for “Remote” Management

The new way of work needs capabilities and skills which earlier were good to have but now are essential to survive. Project Management expertise, ability to engage deeply with remote teams, implementing online learning initiatives and using new age tools are just some of the capabilities that are needed. Every business will have some critical and essential skills that should be identified,and HR would need to drive programs to build these capabilities.

  • Adopting Smart technologies that have practically zero implementation time & are easy to adopt.

HR will need to walk away from a systems approach that it traditionally has advocated. They will need to adopt tools that have zero implementation time and are super easy to adopt. While the business front line tries to re-establish the business, HR will need to provide them with tools that need no training and waste no time or resources for managing or implementing them. Focus will move to using tools that will save time and money for both the people using it and the organization overall.

  • Leveraging on Analytics & Machine Learning:

This is no longer a good to have but a must have. HR will have to facilitate data-based decision making so that biases can be eliminated, and efficiencies brought in. Leveraging on Analytics & machine learning in HR is now critical. HR will have to learn and adopt technologies or tools that help them to capture critical datapoints across the employee lifecycle and help in making people decisions not based on like or dislikes but on data to ensure the greatest positive impact for the business and the people.

  • Being bold, leading the change & walking the talk!

These times call for a HR that is bold and leads the way. HR will have to establish a new agile culture which it will need to lead from the front. It will need to lead the change by adopting new technology and tools themselves so that others in the business have no reason not to try it themselves. These times call for an HR function that is not scared to experiment with new models of doing work, courageously adopting new tools, not shy of failing and tryingagain. HR will need to be catalyst to usher in a new way of work.

While we would like to believe that the impact of pandemic is now reducing, the fact is that we are yet finding out the extent of how the pandemic has affected us. HR needs to recognize that for them to survive as a function.From now on will need a huge effort failing which we will see a very lean HR function, with other functions either being automated or outsourced.  It truly is a brilliant opportunity for HR to be at the forefront of the change and reinvent itself as a function of the future!

(The author is Founder & CEO, GoEvals and the views expressed in the article are his own) 

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