COVId-19 has impacted many businesses and they all looked at the Human Resources (HR) to rescue them. This led to many organizations allowing their employees to work from home and HR to think very differently in terms of managing their workforce.HR needed to play the role of disturbance handler and change agent rather than just support staff or strategic partner. The new role of HR as an entrepreneur has emerged who are ready to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity and are resilient. Being resilient will allow HR professionals to manage the shock without getting affected themselves. Then only they would help organizations to cope up with any kind of crisis and lead the business.
HR professionals need to change their mindset and adopt technology to recruit, assess performance, train, and reward employees. Managing and engaging the workforce from a physical distance can be particularly challenging. They need to design innovative policies and processes to manage employees working from home yet keep productivity in mind. They need to provide flexibility to the workforce still look for team cohesiveness for achieving organizational effectiveness. There is a need for HR professionals to be technology-driven and have skills to manage new upcoming technology at the workplace.
In today's crisis, HR is playing an important role by vaccinating employees and their families, giving them advance allowances, providing leaves, and handling their stress levels. Many organizations are setting good examples by providing support to their employees during the pandemic by tying with vaccine centers and hospitals, providing in-house doctors, and even arranging oxygen for their Covid affected employees. Getting the medical facilities in the current time is challenging but the organization should at least try hard to get it. This also signals to the employees that they are being cared for and what can be a better way to generate long-term loyalty among employees. Being resilient yet empathetic is required by HR to handle the present crisis.
HR needs to develop mentoring and counseling skills in the managers so that they can lead their team members to manage their stress levels. Work from home in the long term leads to immense pressure from the family as well as the organization. It can lead to boredom without any social life and interactions. The challenge is how to keep the employees motivated and focused with so many distractions. The new normal has created innovative ways of employee engagement practices and HR managers to think hard.
This led us to think about what the current competencies and skills are needed by the fresh HR graduates to be provided by any Business School especially in managing crisis. The new emerging competencies are being resilient, entrepreneurship, technology adoption, mentoring & coaching skills, and having strong communication and interpersonal skills. These new skills can easily be groomed among the students if you change their mindset about their relevance in handling current crises. Hence the lesson should not be only learned by industry and practitioners but also by the academic institutions during this crisis as what skills are becoming more relevant. If every Business School today focuses on these skills to be imparted to their HR students, the future HR professional would face any kind of crisis with welcoming hands.
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Dr. Neerja Kashive