As we move forward slowly but surely in the post-coronavirus world, many businesses and organizations are wondering how COVID-19 has affected human resources.
Simply put: Leaders and HR professionals must continue to closely monitor employment law updates and put the wellbeing of their employees first!
So, how can you practice this in your small business? And how can you create a safe, positive workplace to attract and retain top talent? Below, we’re reviewing the latest HR trends, challenges, and areas that employers and HR professionals will focus on following the pandemic.
1. Employee Mental Health & Wellness
The COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on many people’s mental health and wellbeing due to stress and uncertainty. After all, we experienced a sudden shift in how we work. Many of us began working from home, perhaps isolated or constantly surrounded by kids and/or family, with little to no time in the office. This exacerbated issues for those with underlying/preexisting mental health conditions.
Remote work makes it tough for managers to be aware of how their teams are doing, so they must find ways to stay attuned to employees’ mental health. When it comes to HR, practice transparency and open communication to find out how your employees are doing, what they are working on, and ensure they are not getting burnt out.
You can also find new ways to create a healthy and flexible work environment. Lead by example by practicing self-care, setting boundaries, taking time off, and setting expectations for the rest of their team.
2. Enhanced Remote Work Strategies
Speaking of remote work, it’s clearly not going away so business owners and HR teams need to figure out how to make it more effective. Employees have come to expect it, as they love the flexibility it offers!
HR consultants and departments must boost employee productivity by ensuring that they have all the tools they need to do their work efficiently as possible. They must continue figuring out the best technology and solutions for a remote workforce.
Additionally, remote work can lead to extended workdays and employees completing tasks outside of normal work hours, which could result in wage and hour issues. Make sure your company’s remote work policies are sufficient and effectively communicated.
3. Modified & Modern Employee Benefits
Today’s talent wants not only the best health insurance and benefits, but additional perks and benefits that prioritize their health and work-life balance.
Employers and HR teams should keep employees’ new needs in mind. Implement wellness and healthcare programs. Allow flexible schedules for employees with children and family members they are responsible for. Consider what other unique employee benefits and perks you can offer to show employees and candidates alike that you value them.
4. Workplace Culture
HR teams are considering virtual ways to boost employee engagement and maintain a positive workplace culture, especially with remote work becoming the norm.
Without a physical office, employees can end up feeling isolated and disengaged. Employers can get creative with virtual meetings and team activities, from specific team-building activities to just-for-fun hangs.
Use employee surveys to stay on the pulse of morale and what they’re looking for. Many get “Zoom fatigue” — and who can blame them?! Constant virtual meetings are draining. Make sure the activities and methods you use for workplace culture are the right fit for your team.
5. HR & Communication Technology
The push toward HR automation with cloud software will continue in the post-pandemic world. Organizations are looking to streamline processes by going virtual in areas of recruiting and onboarding, drug testing, and pre-employment occupational health testing, to name a few.
Many companies have also been perfecting their tech stack for managing employee communication, from Zoom to Slack and beyond — now that there are countless options!
Sufficient communication apps are crucial, as employers need to maintain and encourage communication to effectively manage a workforce. You can use those tools to share:
- New and updated company policies
- Email and video updates from leaders
- Helpful resources for employees
- COVID-19-related updates, information, and measures the company is taking
6. Diversity, Equity & Inclusion
Over the last couple of years, social justice movements have spurred HR teams to focus more heavily on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in the workplace. This means building a more diverse workforce, which is both the right thing to do and can benefit your business!
Effective DEI training programs and initiatives can help with recruiting, employee engagement and productivity, retention, and company reputation. Business owners and their HR teams should work to hire new employees and create a safe and inclusive workplace for all. You can start by bringing in experts to speak and train your current employees on DEI topics.
7. COVID-19 Considerations
Do you have a clear procedure for handling COVID-19-related sick leave and accommodations? Although we’re a couple of years in, employment laws and regulations are constantly changing.
COVID-19 is not a recognized disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but you should continue handling accommodation requests per usual and identifying when an employee’s disability impacts their job functions. If it does, engage in a meaningful dialogue and provide accommodations where reasonable and required.
Then there is paid sick leave specifically for COVID-19 reasons. Stay up-to-date with your state or jurisdiction paid leave laws, as many have expanded them to apply to the coronavirus.
8. Ever-changing HR Compliance
In addition to COVID-19 implications on HR, labor laws continue to change in several other significant areas. This makes it difficult for small business owners and their HR departments to keep up!
First, look at HR functions in your business such as harassment training, background checks, drug testing, and leave benefits. Some states have recently changed the definitions of and difference between an employee and contractor. HR teams will need to reevaluate and rework employee handbooks, policies, and practices to maintain compliance.
9. Marijuana Usage Laws
One such area that affects HR is the legalization of recreational and/or medical marijuana in a growing number of states. Employers still have the right to implement drug-free workplace policy. But be wary when requiring drug testing, as the laws vary in each state.
Stay updated on the status of marijuana laws and regulations. Keep ADA considerations in mind in cases of employees who use medical marijuana and proceed accordingly.
COVID-19 Changing the Face of HR
While COVID-19 has posed many challenges for employers across the spectrum, it is also impacting certain areas of HR for the better. We will see HR professionals and organizations in general take a more empathetic, compassionate approach focused on their employees’ overall well-being and creating a safer workplace.
Additionally, employers will need to keep evolving their practices and technology to boost efficiency and productivity. Not to mention the new compliance complications, such as drug testing and rapidly changing marijuana usage laws.
Has COVID-19 impacted your HR practices and overall workplace? For guidance with unique coronavirus-related issues, contact BlueLion at 603-818-4131 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how we can help!
The information on this website, including its newsletters, is not, nor is it intended to be legal advice. You should contact an attorney or HR specialist for advice on your individual situation.