We’ve all learned lessons from the profound and unexpected disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
HR and People leaders are rising to the challenge of championing and embracing new and innovative ways to work, creating a strong, resilient and agile workforce that’s fit for the challenges of the future.
It’s not been easy, though.
Our ebook, Business resilience and agility: How HR leaders can empower change, takes the lessons learnt from the pandemic so far, and looks at how HR and People teams can build a stronger more adaptable workforce today and in the future, as a result.
Don’t have time to read the full ebook right now? Here’s a teaser in the meantime. In this blog, we cover the following points:
1. Empower employees by putting them first
Intense pressure has weighted on employees’ shoulders during the pandemic.
From trying to home-school children while juggling work, to dealing with the impact of lockdowns on personal wellbeing, and finding a sensible space to set up a place to work where they can be productive – it’s been a difficult time for many to say the least.
Despite all the challenges employees have faced, many HR and People teams have done a fantastic job to recognize, accommodate and support employees during this time, to make sure they feel valued and cared for.
Organizations that have performed well during this time now understand how valuable it is to keep this up and continue to support employees throughout their time working with their company, by investing in their people.
It’s down to HR and People teams to not just reassure their people, but show them in actions as well as words that they’re really at the heart of everything the organization does and values their contributions.
The answer to doing this well is simple: put employees front and center of your business strategy. Make sure they know their value.
Invest in them with technology, support, wellbeing initiatives, recognition, and authentic and personalized communications.
If your workforce feels valued when it matters most to them, they’ll be there for the organization when it most needs it too, doing what they do best and driving organizational success.
2. Use data to inform decision-making and horizon scanning
Without data to inform decisions, HR and People leaders really are flying blind. Actionable insights and have never been more vital.
Even though there was a considered shift away from gut feel and spreadsheets before the pandemic, it’s become almost impossible to continue with this way of operating, as employees are more dispersed than ever.
If it wasn’t already before, it’s now become vital for organizations to now have a data-first approach.
Gathering data is a crucial step, but HR and People teams need to go further and not just mine data and report on it, but analyze it, to gain actionable insights to test hypotheses and identify solutions.
The result means you’ll eventually find it easier to improve your employee experience, finding out for example where your employees might prefer to work to improve work-life balance, or discovering which employees aren’t as engaged to then tackle the root cause.
3. Make sure your HR team has a clear remit and objectives to deliver on expectations
Are you doing too much?
A lot can end up on the HR and People team’s plate in testing times. After all, when employees need support or guidance, HR is often where they turn first.
Resilient HR teams adapt quickly to changing requirements, but if your mission creeps uncontrollably, they become ineffective and distracted.
With CEOs, for example, increasingly relying on HR to do more, it’s up to you to manage the business’s expectations and make the case for what is achievable and what’s not.
If you take on too much, you could get overwhelmed.
It’s up to HR leaders to establish boundaries and identify what HR is not responsible for as well as what it is so they can double down on key objectives to drive their own agility and resilience.
4. Build close alignment to business objectives and communicate outcomes
Putting it simply, a great HR strategy and business strategy should go hand-in-hand with one another.
From understanding the impact of the people strategy on the bottom line, to feeding into discussions on the continued development of the business strategy, it’s really important that HR leaders have a detailed understanding of the business strategy in order to lead change.
Remember, you’re managing your organization’s greatest asset – its people – so there’s no excuse for not having a role to play in business strategy discussions.
You could even look to share people data, to show how you’re testing relevant business initiatives and the impact on your people.
5. Regularly review existing systems and processes
Every now and again, it’s good to down tools and reassess your operations. The pressures applied by the pandemic may have exposed weaknesses in your legacy systems and old processes.
Whether annually, biannually, or quarterly, set aside time to make sure your systems and processes are delivering on expectations and fulfilling the criteria set out in your strategy.
Plan regular reviews of systems and processes to check they are fit for purpose in a changing commercial and consumer world and communicate your findings.
Gather feedback from employees to understand their latest needs, and harness HR tools, such as automation, to improve the efficiency of HR and business processes.
The impact of these reviews can mean smoother communication and more cohesion across the whole organization, which will ultimately increase the entire business’s ability to become more agile and resilient.
6. Create a culture of flexible working
If you want to recruit the best people, flexible working matters.
It’s also very important for resilience. As we’ve seen with the global pandemic, in periods of disruption, the option of flexible working means organizations can adapt to change quickly.
It isn’t just about working from home – it means giving employees more choice over how and when they work, within a framework that matches your business needs.
Give employees the freedom to work in the way that best suits them, so long as they’re able to still attend meetings and meet their deadlines and objectives.
Don’t forget to review employee wellbeing and productivity too, so you can offer support to avoid stress and burnout.
7. Inspire employees to be their authentic selves through inclusivity
Did you know that diverse teams perform more strongly, are more innovative and are better at spotting mistakes?
Diversity and business resilience are more closely related that you might have thought.
By having more diverse talent pool, organizations are in a better position for problem solving situations as and when they happen.
Diversity of thought increases the range of perspectives that can help educate, inspire and motivate teams.
Differences in age, gender, race and sexuality mean there are more perspectives, different skills and enhanced problem-solving for your organization, so it’s no surprise Boston Consulting Group reports that companies with diverse management teams have on average 19% higher revenues.
To really get the best from your people, create a welcoming space for them to feel able to express who they really are at work through positive communication about your diversity and inclusion programmes and policy, alongside hiring diverse talent throughout the business.
8. Tap into technology that empowers your HR team
Technology is now even more mission-critical than ever for organizations in this new, changing world of work.
Automation and self-service empower employees to own their data and eliminate admin for HR teams, freeing them up to focus on more strategic initiatives.
But cloud and mobile technology, and people analytics also have a huge part to play in making any organization more agile and resilient in times of change.
With 80% of HR leaders saying their organization is more focused on digital transformation since COVID-19, this focus will continue to sharpen over time.
The right technology truly empowers the whole organization – from employees, to the C-suite, and the HR team – to build resilience because people can focus effectively on current priorities, pivot rapidly when they need to and make confident, accurate decisions in changing circumstances.
Final thoughts on building a stronger, more adaptable workforce
Business resilience and agility aren’t only important in the wake of recent disruptions.
They’ll continue to evolve how organizations operate and ultimately perform long into the future, which means now’s the right time for HR leaders to build a stronger and more adaptable workforce.
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