HR teams have faced challenges over the past four months that many may never have anticipated facing in the entirety of their careers. They've dealt with shifts in prioritising staff welfare, business continuity and a myriad of tough conversations and decisions as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The UK has clapped for carers throughout the lockdown period, but have we paid our gratitude in full to the unseen heroes behind what is essentially the A&E of business? We explore how HR departments have adapted to unprecedented demands and come out the other side.

How have HR professionals stepped up during the global pandemic?

The global pandemic has fundamentally changed our ways of working. Some organisations have never before been open to the idea of remote working but left with little choice in the wake of a public health crisis, have had to accommodate this drastic change – in many cases, overnight. HR have been the ones to pick up the pieces, including, but not limited to, the following…

Staff retention, turnover and acquisition

Very few HR teams have come through the lockdown period unscathed. As the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was announced, businesses scrambled to assess which employees they could place on furlough, and which employees would need to stay on and ultimately take on larger workloads.

Many of us could only imagine the pressure felt by HR departments in making these tough calls, having even tougher conversations, and of course dealing with the bureaucracy behind government pay-outs to affected employees. There has also been the aspect of keeping furloughed employees ‘in the loop' with changes in the company and preparing them for anticipated returns to the office.

Staff retention has never been more critical. Many organisations have had to place freezes on hiring new staff. This has placed strain on the requirement to retain existing employees – and request even more of them during a tumultuous time. HR teams have had to deal with the emotional and non-work-related aspects of employees, often offering up their personal time after-hours to facilitate video calls and provide a support structure.

Conflict management

An aspect often involved with the day-to-day remit of HR teams, conflict management has become all the more important in a time of remote working. HR departments have had to find innovative ways to broach this tough subject with employees, while keeping focus on achieving satisfactory outcomes to their respective managers. Video calls have become the go-to for important conversations, making it difficult to handle a situation that has historically been resolved in-person.

General stress

Just as all departments within a business need to continue running smoothly in order to get through this challenging economic time, HR departments have also taken strain in reduced staff numbers with a higher demand than ever before – all while dealing with their own stresses and personal lives.

While the furlough conversation is tough enough to handle when informing an employee, HR departments have also had to place some of their own on the temporary leave programme. Those who have not been furloughed have dealt with mounting urgency and massive workloads. HR teams have done an incredible job of placing the wellbeing of employees as priority, sacrificing personal time to assist where they are needed – and to hit the ground running it these incredible times.

We recognise and applaud the hard work and commitment of HR teams throughout the world. They have truly been a force to be reckoned with! Why not explore the ways your HR team can be upskilled and further trained to continue providing you with the best for your business? Our HR training courses have been designed to offer practical advice and equip attendees with all the tools they need to be better every day.

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