The role of the human resources department has always been critical. But when the global pandemic created an unprecedented disruption, HR provided employees with guidance and support to navigate through the changes. And more people recognized that HR functions went above and beyond recruitment, payroll management, and employee benefits. HR contributes to business success by promoting positive business culture and increasing employee engagement, which boosts productivity. Here’s a look at four reasons why HR matters now more than ever:
1. Contextual Changes in Business Operations
Leaders need to understand how shifting circumstances change events and ideas within the business environment. These contexts may be social in nature and impact employee expectations, lifestyles, and values. Emerging technologies may transform access to information, while environmental changes will impact social responsibility and public policy. Political and economic reform may lead to regulatory policies, industry growth, and commercial trends. Demographic shifts also contribute to how organizations can create better opportunities for diversification and inclusion initiatives.
With these contextual changes came the reimagining of processes, particularly in recruitment. HR recognized the value of leveraging tools and technologies to streamline screening, interview scheduling, and even onboarding. Conducting initial interviews via video conferencing helped save precious hours and led to better matching. It also gave recruitment teams access to wider talent pools.
2. Intensity and Pace of Change
COVID-19 forced organizations worldwide to recognize the importance of agility and flexibility. HR plays a key role in a company’s responsiveness in times of unprecedented disruption, which can be volatile and complex. As champions of change, HR prepares employees to face uncertainty and ambiguity through guidance and new policies for successful change outcomes.
The last few years also changed employee expectations, particularly those recognizing that work-life balance was achievable through flexible working hours. HR re-examines traditional work hours and environments, determining whether it’s time to move past old schedules and structures that no longer fuel productivity.
3. Satisfying Stakeholders Expectations
HR not only focuses on employee needs and workplace behavior but also on the whole company culture, which involves stakeholders. HR recognizes that satisfying the expectations of the customers, investors, partners, and the community is crucial to achieving the organization’s goals and maintaining its reputation.
4. Personal Response to Workplace Changes
At the height of the pandemic, workforces all over the globe were forced to work remotely. HR helped organizations to adjust to this new reality by recognizing employees’ physical and mental health needs and promoting meaningful conversations. HR served as a vital resource for those struggling to maintain work-life balance under new pressures and unfamiliar work environments. HR changed the narrative on the disruption by highlighting positive opportunities and outcomes. Building personal connections helped prevent isolation and promoted stronger teamwork.
As the world reopens, many organizations recognize that the attitudes and outlooks of their workforces have been forever changed. We turn to HR to help strategize responses to internal and external factors that impact operations and productivity.
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