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One year on... What have we learnt in the world of HR?
28 April 2021
The pandemic’s had a bigger impact on the population of the world than any other event in our generation. It’s affected every aspect of our lives and that includes the world of HR.
When the pandemic hit and lockdown started, the role of HR within business was pushed to the forefront. There was a requirement for HR teams to adapt to several challenges like the furloughing of employees, providing managers’ guidance with managing a team remotely, ensuring risk assessments were rolled out across offices and for employees working from home, the effects of the pandemic on their health and wellbeing, and unfortunately some large scale restructures of teams.
So where are we now, one year on from the pandemic and what are the important lessons we’ve learnt for when we return back to ‘normal’ (dare we mention the ‘new normal’)?
1. Finding the balance
One thing which has been proved, is that under the right circumstances, working from home can work. It’s important for employers to remember that it’s a big change for employees returning to the office (a study by the CIPD found 45% of employees had experienced some anxiety about returning to the office) and it will be vital to allow their employees the opportunity to find the right balance of working from home and in the office.
2. Focusing on health and wellbeing can improve productivity
Over 33% of UK workers claimed that the changes to their work life during the pandemic had a negative impact on their health. Businesses who invested in their employees’ health and wellbeing during the pandemic witnessed an increase in productivity (even when compared to pre-pandemic). This can be small things such as organising and facilitating social events (click here for 5 ideas on keeping your team motivated), which were mainly done over Zoom during the pandemic, or allowing employees the opportunity to exercise during the working day, or giving the employee the opportunity to speak to someone about their mental health, whether that’s in house or through an employee assist programme.
3. Employees need to switch off
The term ‘always on’ was used regularly before the pandemic and it’s now become even more evident throughout the pandemic, with employees working from home and not having the natural ‘finish work routine’ at the end of the day, leaving the office to return home. HR teams and employers should encourage employees to have dedicated time away from work and where possible, help to monitor excessive hours, providing support to those working over and above what’s healthy for them.