In 2020, amid stay-at-home mandates and travel bans, many roles had to adapt to the so-called new normal—and human resource (HR) professionals were no exception. HR leaders and employees had to be agile as they maneuvered the new world of work with little preparation time. This year, however, things are looking up. With more people getting vaccinated, businesses can now consider having their workers back to the office.
Still, remote work setups are here to stay, solidifying the hybrid work model. As such, HR professionals will likely face several challenges in the post-pandemic era. The transition might not be smooth, but the good thing is they have more time this year to prep for those challenges.
If you’re one of these HR professionals prepping for the post-COVID world, here are some issues and challenges you have to overcome. As early as now, discuss these things with your team and employer.
Addressing the influx of applicants
Millions of Americans were out of work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. But after the pandemic ends, expect more businesses to reopen or launch and give jobs to unemployed Americans. As an HR professional, you will be at the forefront should your company decides to expand the workforce or restore the number of employees you had pre-pandemic.
Ensure you have a systematic process in place for reviewing hundreds of applications and streamlining interview processes for every possible open position. Consider utilizing the latest recruiting apps to filter applications. But if that’s not viable, you can get help from third-party companies specializing in HR services for small and mid-sized businesses.
Improving virtual onboarding processes
After hiring a candidate, the next step will be onboarding them—but you might have to continue doing this virtually. So, before the year ends, evaluate your existing virtual onboarding processes. See if there are gaps you have to fill; perhaps, some of your new hires last year found it difficult to acclimate to their new team, or maybe, others didn’t feel confident enough using all the company’s online tools. That way, you can ensure the processes have been refined and will be seamless before the influx of new hires arrives.
Keep in mind that the new hire’s onboarding experience—whether virtually or not—is a huge factor in making them feel welcome and confident in their new role and retaining them for months to come.
Engaging remote and in-office employees
For existing employees, the challenge last year was to engage them as they work remotely in a middle of a global crisis. The internal communication was somehow compromised; it was difficult to keep everyone on the same page. In the past year, you and your team probably managed to solve these issues. This year, however, the challenge is to engage both remote and office employees if your company implements a hybrid work environment.
How can you ensure that those working from home are always on the same page as those who go to the office? Will you need to create different employee engagement programs for remote and in-office workers, or is there a way to blend those programs? Those are the questions you have to answer as you build employee programs for the next few months.
Training leaders on virtual management
Despite working from home for a year now, many leaders still find it difficult to manage their remote teams. Plus, the economy and overall global COVID-19 situation still seem erratic. That’s especially true if you have teams in different parts of the world where vaccine rollouts aren’t as fast as in the US. So, managing virtual teams will remain a challenge even after the pandemic subsides in the US.
Expect your company leaders and managers to lean on your HR team to help them create standard operating procedures and coordinate with their employees from different time zones. You may need to continue to train them to be more supportive and communicative to their remote workers.
Mental health-related issues in remote work environments can continue to be a challenge even after the pandemic ends in the US and some parts of the world. After all, the world had a collective trauma, which some people may find difficult to address in the coming months or years. Ensure mental health in remote work environments when training leaders to foster a healthy work culture, albeit online.
As you settle into the new reality of work, you and your HR team must remain agile. That way, you can continue to evolve to ensure all employees remain engaged, healthy, and productive—no matter what the post-COVID world brings to their careers and personal lives.