During the last 10 months, I have been actively keeping in touch with many high-performing CHROs across the United States and Europe from a variety of sectors. And while the pandemic has produced a significant amount of hardships for businesses in general, the current Covid-19 landscape has presented human resources leaders with the opportunity to show their stuff, and in most cases, they’ve done that very well. In many companies, these important leaders are not just creating the systems to manage through a crisis and to take care of their employees, but also influencing their chief executive officers to be proactive and helping them understand the need for higher levels of empathy, communication, and transparency with the employees.
Companies quickly adjusted to having more meaningful virtual town halls and creative ways to communicate that dig deeper into the humanity of employees and demonstrate an understanding from leaders that may not have been evident beforehand. This is a journey that many HR leaders are helping their internal clients successfully navigate.
Now that we are starting to think about post-pandemic – timing TBD – the bar has been set to a higher level in some of those areas that CHROs need to think about. For instance, once leaders improve the quality of communications, as well as the frequency of communications, employees will naturally expect both to continue. HR pros need to ensure the C-Suite maintains this when we get back to “normal.” We cannot backslide to vague and infrequent interactions between leadership and employees. This will likely take some prodding and nudging of the CEOs to make sure that happens.
As the pandemic intensified, several companies were setting up crisis funds to help employees in need and I strongly recommend to clients, and any leaders reading this article, to continue setting aside money in the budget to assist workers that have a personal crisis. HR leaders are going to play a crucial role in persuading CEOs to keep on with this practice. There is a great deal of fatigue in the workforce at all levels. Best-in-class companies are revisiting their EAP plans to ensure they have the capabilities to manage through the mental, physical and economic impact of the last 10 months.
There is another crucial element that CHROs need to be thinking about: Talent Management. Tied into this are questions about what the company is going to look like coming out of the pandemic. Everything is going to change and there is a tremendous amount of uncertainty. One thing HR people know for sure is the question of how to best collaborate between employees staying home and employees going to office need to be addressed almost immediately. But that is not the only change. HR leaders can help the company think about what will be needed to prepare and execute strategies for the changing consumer and customer.
To be sure, all of these unknowns can be unsettling, but at the same time, we are also presented with an exciting opportunity to create a future that requires a different type of talent. If you are not sure of the future, create it! That means, human capital and performance tomorrow will not be the same as it was yesterday.
We often talk about seeing around corners. Well, I think now we need to be able to see through walls, create the future, and then make sure that we have the talent that will then drive us forward and make companies successful in the future.