The Big Impact of HR Function In The World of Remote Work

With the HR function facing responsibilities ranging from business to people, what should be their big impact area in 2021 and going forward? We have identified 4 focus areas amongst which the People function and chief officers can prioritize.

Over the last year, all functions of organizations have been forced to transform the way they operate. For many, their priorities and roles have seen drastic shifts. But for the Human Resources team, the pressure to evolve and stay in control has been at its peak. Especially considering they have been the front runners in moving operations to the virtual landscape. While ensuring the safety of the employees as well as organizational longevity. 

But the move to remote working itself has proven to be a massive challenge. As of 2019, more than 50% of HR leaders found it difficult to upskill their employees to ensure they would be able to navigate and perform effectively in a highly digitalized workspace. Jump to 2020 when HR functions were forced to support and help smoothen the transition to remote working for almost 100% of their organization’s employees. 

It’s safe to say, Covid-19 has changed the game for the People function. 

But the question of the hour is, with so many focus areas in addition to unseen challenges that the pandemic continues to bring, what can be the big impact that the HR function delivers in 2021 and going forward? What should be your big wish from the People function in your organization? 

Keeping in mind the current environment and the fact that remote working will continue to be our reality thanks to 76% of global employees wanting to work from home in some capacity post the pandemic, there are several key responsibilities that must be considered. 

Let’s go through them to better understand the larger impact they will lead in the organization. 

Driving better business results through hiring, training, and upskilling

Many people fail to realize the true impact the HR function has on business results. But the pandemic has changed that. Organizations are fast realizing that in order to maintain market performance and drive growth, employees need to not just be skilled at their jobs, but must also know how to stay efficient and effective while collaborating with team members remotely. This needs a major contribution from HR teams.

This is further reflected in the fact that 76% of 190 chief officers and functional leaders surveyed by Mckinsey said that they would spend more or the same amount on workforce planning and strategy as they had before the pandemic. This includes planned layoffs, unique hiring practices (permanent hiring is taking a hit, with more focus being laid on hiring online freelancers and temps known for flexibility and quick responses), and reskilling and upskilling programs to facilitate productivity in remote working. 

Covid-19 has proved that talent is leading organizational performance. To lead impact, the HR function must adopt a strategic workforce plan. And help the organization meet or exceed revenue, profits, and other corporate objectives. With a special focus on employee training and guidance. 

Developing people, promoting connection, enabling a better work culture 

Another crucial area that’s taken a hit during the pandemic and especially thanks to remote work has been organizational culture. With increased feelings of isolation and disconnected work environments, organizations are finding it hard to translate the organization’s culture in the virtual world. 

This is where the HR function can play a big role. 

Combined effort on the part of managers and HR executives can help employees regain the connection with their teams and the organization. While building trust, empathy, and improving overall communication and collaboration within teams. It’s not easy, but doable with the right actions and measures in place. 

HR teams can also have a great impact on making your employees confident, global citizens, and communication superstars. Furthermore, by developing the skills of people in the organization and building bonhomie and camaraderie, the People function can create a system of selflessness and shared purpose. Where people are motivated to learn and grow, and also help their peers and team members. Thereby helping the organization grow as a whole. 

All this can enable a better work culture, leading to workplace that fosters collaboration, productivity, and innovation.

Motivating employees, facilitating commitment, lowering attrition rates

While layoffs have been a part and parcel of the pandemic, there has also been an upward trend of employees quitting their jobs or job-hopping during the same interval. A major reason? They don’t believe their organization is concerned about their well-being. Or there’s a better opportunity that’s now become available to them thanks to the rise in remote working.

As per reports, even post the pandemic, one in four workers considers quitting their job because of doubts about career advancements, rethinking their skill sets, etc. And as we all know, committed and productive employees are key to any organization’s survival in today’s time. So, organizations need to do all they can to not only attract the best talent but more importantly retain them. 

According to a Society for Human Resource Management survey, 65% of HR  professionals say that maintaining employee morale has become a big problem. To combat this, many HR teams are working with managers to understand the root of the employees’ problems. And support them to build back employee morale and motivation in addition to inspiring action. 

This can have a lasting impact. Employees’ infectious motivation brings energy to the workplace and their proactiveness makes the workplace more inviting, while addressing attrition issues. 

Promoting employees’ alignment with organisational values and ethos

If there is one thing that has been a challenge for organizations, it’s aligning employees with the organization’s value system. But as you can predict, remote work has made the situation worse. 

It’s difficult for HR teams to communicate and validate the organization’s values through laptop screens. But unique efforts including gamification, virtual events, online engagement programs have helped in a huge way!

The benefit? People adhere to the organizational values and beliefs, but also go ahead and advocate them. Ensuring a specific corporate persona & brand where all employees are aligned in their thoughts and actions, while believing in the same. Another plus point is that it can help your organization list amongst the best employers or workplaces. Building the brand as well as the talent pool for your organization. 

Coming back to the original question, which should be the big impact area of the HR function in 2021 and going forward? Well, we’d say all! Together, the net impact on your employer brand can prove to be considerable; which, besides building a better workplace, also has a downstream impact on attracting the best talent to your organization. But it’s not easy doing that.

We believe each organization has its own requirements. And according to the current situation at yours, the HR function and chief officers together should identify the major impact that is needed. The rest can follow. 

In your organization, you must have observed certain challenges that have disrupted operations and growth the most. Which of the 4 focus areas do you feel would solve those challenges and deliver the most value?

If you need help figuring out your People function’s big impact area, write to us at! We’d love to help. 

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