HR Budget-2021, Challenges Post COVID-19
We all come across phrases like “This is the new normal”. I do not believe in the statement as there is nothing called a new normal. What seems new normal today, organizations are going to evolve and make processes and strategies to deal with the situation till another crisis hits us in future.
Like most organizations, we too had prepared our Annual Operating Plan and were waiting eagerly to start the new fiscal year 2020-21. However, when Covid-19 struck in late March it changed the entire paradigm of the way organizations functioned. In the first quarter, it was important for most organizations to stay afloat and focus on the “most important things to do” followed by the “good to do” aspects which took a backseat for some time.
“Organizations with healthy cash, reserve found it easier to manage the core business with less pain in comparison to corporates who were playing the game of valuation. Most of such organizations with a poor P&L status were forced to shut their shop.”
The focus is now on prioritizing the absolute non-negotiable things and spending cautiously after analysis of the cost-benefit in detail. The pandemic also taught managers to separate “Good to do” from absolutely essential “Must to do” activities. Organizations have started operating business in the most optimized manner and spending cautiously, keeping the long-term objective in mind. Some of key aspects which saw a change in the operations style –
- Talent acquisition activity had slowed down and hiring for the most essential positions is taking place while optimizing the costs. Focus has shifted on proactively building a talent pipeline and preparing for the future talent needs. However, as a practitioner, I believe “Talent will always be a winner irrespective of the times that we go through”. The reason for making such a statement is even when all were following lockdown and business got severely impacted, hiring of critical talent did not stop and still, corporates were looking for good talent.
- Learning & Development has completely gone the online route and shifted to bite-sized learning majorly because of the work from home/work from anywhere arrangements. Technical trainings are being assigned to employees via online learning platforms which they can attend and complete during a convenient time.
- Annual Performance Management had been completed in most organizations, however, decisions pertaining to Appraisals and Increments were put on hold for 1-2 quarters till business could stabilize. Now that things are moving in a positive direction, organizations have started to release these budgets and also restore salary cuts, if any.
- Employee Engagement activities had been under the organisation scanner and focus was laid on aspects of employee well-being – mental, emotional and physical as everyone was juggling to maintain the balance of home and work. All initiatives are being carried out on virtual platforms.
- Celebrations like the Annual Offsites, year-end parties which used to be held at exotic international/national locations have all been moved to 2nd priority.
R&R programs, Company Day are being held via social platforms to keep employees motivated and engaged. Employees continue to receive Birthday wishes and their gifts as per original practice. Organisation are shifting focus towards adapting to a more virtual internet world –
- Remote working situation is part of the new way of dealing with the crisis and there is significant rental based saving that organizations can make in this work model.
- Small budget, big projects are the calling these days. From streamlining processes to building technology that can cater to client requirements from the comfort of our homes has been a top priority and teams have achieved this successfully during this period.
- Digital Adoption of HRIS systems and investment in automation have become a newer area of focus to cater to the majority of the workforce which is working from home.
The importance of strong Leadership has significantly increased in this time and plays an even bigger role than before. Effective communication linked with empathy and compassion are key to driving results and keeping all employees connected and engaged to the organizations vision during these times of test.
We all are going through difficult times and organizations was forced to reboot their ways of working and had to take a few hard calls to stay relevant. The organizations and leaders who managed the crisis without compromising on the company value system and without demeaning the dignity of labor would be successful at the end of the day.