Top HR Challenges and Business Expectations for 2021
HR leaders have confronted more challenges than ever this year due to COVID-19 Pandemic, Worldwide Lockdown and Economic Downturn. As 2021 may not be plain sailing, HR people are now prepared and ready to deal with anything, if they can continue along a path of agility and resilience.
SightsIn Plus team had discussion with Top HR Heads of IT and Non IT industries and tried to share what are Business expectations from Human resources and top HR challenges predictions for 2021.
Saurabh Govil, President and Chief Human Resources said: If you look at the current global scenario, the pandemic is not showing signs of waning. Nations are seeing second and third waves. Closer home, while our fatality rate has been remarkably low, cases continue to increase and that’s worrisome. In these unusual circumstances, many organizations have taken tough decisions to ensure survival and they look to HR to provide the much needed stability in these times.
If we look at the IT industry, it has seen significant changes in the past few quarters. WFH has been enabled on a large scale; business has been growing in certain sectors while some sectors are stressed. In IT the biggest expectation business has is to support it in successful delivery of existing and new business with minimal disruption. It sounds like a normal expectation. However, in these circumstances when all systems for existing and new employees are remote, it is quite complex. From hiring new employees to training them, to ensuring that they have right system access and so on requires multiple teams to come together and deliver.
Most important is cultural integration of employees in a remote context. Enabling business in these circumstances is the first and the most important expectation that all IT business leaders have today.
Kaustubh Sonalkar Group President – Human Resource, Essar said: All businesses expect HR to bring people together for a common objective. However, the pandemic has enforced a change in the way people get together, changing the very landscape HR functions on. The pace of HR’s ever-evolving role has fastened at an unprecedented rate due to the pandemic-led disruption. Hence HR functions, especially in the manufacturing sector, ensure a work-environment transition keeping the optimum balance of employee safety vs Physical/Virtual office space vs business continuance & efficiency.
Technology becomes a critical factor in such scenarios, and I truly believe that HR’s role has never been more crucial as it is today in these times. Talking about the pandemic’s economic impact on the manufacturing sector, in particular, it is a given that the sector has faced a massive blow. While the government has been quite successful in reviving the sector, there is still scope for high growth and employment opportunities in the months ahead.
In the new normal, accelerated technological solutions and optimisation will be critical in the manufacturing industry, and HR is being called upon to implement digitised solutions for enhanced productivity and processes. Right from transitioning the workforce into a more digital-savvy one, leveraging digital tools for supporting online skill development, e-recruitment to e- employee engagement, the onus lies on HR to ensure an upgraded workforce. HR is, undoubtedly, bound to take centre stage in the months to come.
Sheetal Shah Chief People Officer Schindler India & South Asia said: COVID-19 has led and accelerated one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime. In the coming year, amongst the many unknowns, organizations will face several challenges.
One of the key challenges will be to create Employee Experience, that supports employees to manage the fear of uncertainty and commit wholeheartedly towards growth (personal and professional). Although part of our capacity to deal with the unknown is innate, a larger
portion is learned. Those who develop this “Uncertainty Capability”(HBR) will be more creative, more successful, and better able to turn uncertainty into possibility.
Paradox of Empathy and Tough Love– Data suggests that employees are working longer hours and there is likely to be growth in presenteeism i.e., people going to work when ill. (Johns, G., 2010, Presenteeism in the workplace: A review and research agenda. Journal of Organizational Behavior). Employees have showcased commendable agility and resilience to adapt to the new ways of working. However, the ability to sustain this momentum poses an immediate challenge to organizations. This enthusiasm could be short-lived as job security is a driving force for most employees in the current situation. As the market sees an improvement, productivity may roll back, talent drain may increase. While leaders must be empathetic, they must also subtly enforce the new rules of engagement and encourage employees to take personal onus for making the organization successful, by developing newer capabilities, displaying customer-centricity, and helping win incremental business.
Connections– As the world goes virtual for a prolonged period, HR leaders will need to be deliberate about retaining their people-orientation culture – mastering deep and meaningful connections with customers and colleagues/employees–challenge will be to ensure that the humane touch is not compromised due to the high-tech environment. Organizations will have to institutionalize ways for managers to engage with their teams regularly; elevate the sense to identify and support employees’needs; learn to recognize and address issues related to mental, emotional, and social well-being; review and redesign policies to bring about higher workplace flexibility. With plans to stagger the physical presence of employees in offices, fewer people in one confined space may not mean fewer human resource issues but it will mean need for innovative approaches to retain critical connect within teams as well as with the organization at large.