The HR Perspective on COVID-19 series, drawn from interviews with leading HR professionals across Africa region, highlighted key HR trends across multiple industries.
We look at the top 4 HR trends from the series:
Prioritisation of mental health & wellness
Overnight, everything that employees knew about their daily working routine, was turned on its head. The effects of this sudden change to the familiar, range from the mildly disconcerting to the traumatic, particularly to employees who may have already been experiencing anxiety and stress in their roles. The effects of sudden job uncertainty have also been keenly felt.
Businesses needed to respond by throwing a spotlight onto wellness and mental health, and the majority responded well, prioritising these concerns with sensitivity, and by taking advantage of professional HR consultancies.
This focus on happy and healthy employees is certain to continue well beyond the end of the pandemic, including new and formalised employee wellness programmes.
WFH is here to stay
Whilst face-to-face interaction and socialisation is central to employee bonding and the creation of productive teams, and can never be fully replaced by digital alternatives, COVID has shown that a balance of working from home combined with a percentage of staff heading into the office, can be the “happy medium”.
This trend in flexibility was gaining popularity even before COVID-19, for its proven results on reducing absenteeism and increasing staff retention.
Companies who were initially resistant to the idea, have started to wonder why they were so reluctant to consider it sooner, and this has been to the benefit of employees looking for a more “modern” workplace culture.
Generalist vs specialist
HR professionals have found that their traditional roles have been challenged and changed. Specialists, such as in-house recruiters for example, have needed to step up into a more generalist role whilst hiring is more supressed. A similar pattern has been seen with Learning & Development; the L&D function have paid particular attention to the rise of the webinar.
Whilst webinars may seem like a COVID-phenomena, many HR professionals have seen the benefits of these online lectures and roundtables, and the resulting increase in online presence, in expanding their global reach.
HR – A strategic partner
Not only have the roles and responsibilities within HR evolved as a result of the crisis, but the perception of the entire function has been altered forever. Previously, businesses may have considered HR to be more of a “soft function”, when compared with functions such as Sales, or Finance, for example.
However, COVID-19 has propelled HR into a crucial position and given them a “seat at the table”. As with many of the lasting impacts of the virus, the value of having a strong HR function has been recognised across industries, to a greater extent than ever before.
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