COVID-19 Has Made HR the Most Important Job in Sustainability

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Jun 11, 2020
This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.

The world is in lockdown, and organizations are struggling. This story started off early this year when the world was stunned by the most devastating pandemic in recent times that put the world to a standstill. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the global economy at a standstill, and organizations are looking to make the most of this situation.

Since the outbreak started in January 2020, COVID-19’s impact on the global economy has been so massive that corporations and their millions of workers are struggling to endure.   Organizations are being tasked with some pressing matters such as furloughed workers and digital adaptation. CEOs preach that ‘our people are our greatest assets,’ pressure mounts on them to make painful decisions in light of this pandemic. It is now the job of the head of human resources to keep these key assets intact.

HR’s Role

Where the world is feeling the impact of COVID-19 and with a worldwide lockdown in place, businesses are continually striving to quickly adapt to the new patterns and changes taking place for the years to come. With the employees required to remotely yet assertively work from home, CHROs need to reassert their leadership and be able to facilitate an effective remote management process where they remain constantly aligned with the senior management to reassess and reevaluate work policies and to create a positive remote working environment and ensure maximum employee competency even from working from home.

New family-friendly policies of virtual working can be built to create sustainability for their organizations and their employees. CHROs should also take into consideration the risks associated with working remotely (such as data breach) and stay in compliance with global privacy regulations such as CCPA and GDPR. The use of encryption tools and virtual private networks (VPNs) in this case can be helpful to curb the impact of data breaches within organizations when working from home

With the dynamics of work changing, a greater understanding of the situation is required. Education being the prime requirement, difficult decisions within the organizations need to be analyzed and changed quickly, by the hour. It is essential to learn and adopt new ways of working and managing teams effectively. The right way to do so is by vigorous virtual training and webinar sessions to build a positive intent and help the employees understand that if they can excel at their jobs from offices, they can roll out the same kind of quality work from home as well.

Months into this pandemic and we have seen a change in the function of HR. From human capital management, they now have a responsibility to cost control and protect their organization’s shareholder return.

It is integral to work with legal and regulatory bodies within the local jurisdiction to minimize the growing wage gap and ensure inclusivity by providing the employees with a better living standard and guarantee the satisfaction of their psychological needs by influencing government for income security policies and incentives.

The CHROs need to model policies that are distributive to make sure the employees in supply-chain do not get stuck in a constant rut of worrying about their dues but are effectively paid enough.

What does the future hold?

Even though this pandemic put a damper on the booming gig economy, it is quite possible that the future generations may look back at COVID-19 as the catalyst for ecological and remote working development. This pandemic may have saved our world from the looming risk of the human race facing a massive existential crisis.

For years and years on end, people have been making the same choices, making use of the same old economic techniques. This pandemic can be a force that drives the world towards a fresh and entirely different route. Tough times always bring out the best in entrepreneurs. During the recession of 2008-09, we witnessed the birth of some of the most iconic brands.

While employees all over the world are becoming flexible and embracing the new working methods, it is imperative that CHROs constantly strive to develop adaptive and consistent systems where the employees can flourish and challenge themselves to be better by the second.

CHROs need to take the wheel to shape their organization’s structure, align the workforce such that the purpose and values of the organizations are meticulously connected with the interests of stakeholders.

Key takeaways

This current state of the world has affected every individual, and people are trying their best to climb out of this predicament. It is the responsibility of organizations to take care of their employees as well as their customers to get out of this pandemic stronger. The HR department has an important role during these times, and they are tasked with improving sustainability. In the end, we hope when the dust settles, everyone comes out of this pandemic as stronger and more sustainable organizations.

This article is part of a series called COVID-19 Coverage.
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