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The role of HR during, after COVID-19 pandemic crisis

guest column:Emmanuel Zvada How to manage employees through a pandemic probably was not a module that many Human Resources (HR) professionals, including myself, covered during our training to be HR practitioners. But as they say, desperate problems call for desperate solutions. HR practitioners must take the bull by its horns to make sure that organisations survive during and after this pandemic. Over the past years, the HR function has experienced drastic changes, particularly in the way employees work, learn, and communicate. Undeniably, no one would have imagined that the COVID-19 outbreak would accelerate one of the greatest workplace transformations of our time. Faced with any crisis, the first response from all of us is to say things will normalise. Yes, I’m in agreement that hope is needed but I am also of the opinion that during such a major disruption, HR should create more disruptions. It is also observed that at such times, creativity flows instinctively hence it is the responsibility of HR to come up with strategies, policies, systems that will make organisations thrive during this pandemic. The future of work and HR’s role Working from home is the new normal now. But is it here to stay, or is it just a temporary solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the questions that HR need to analyse, project and proffer recommendations. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of people all over the world into their homes and gave them no choice but to work remotely. But how many people are working from home because of the coronavirus, and how productive are they. After the COVID-19, some employees will definitely go back to the office, but some might want to keep working remotely. Given room to decide most employees prefer to work from home because this allows them to save time on an everyday commute, have a better work-life balance and be more productive. Process and policy changes related to COVID-19 HR professionals must consider policies for scenarios that were not fathomable a year ago. With the strain of the coronavirus confining everyone to their homes, remote work will continue to have significant relevance even post COVID-19. To ensure its success, companies will have to develop processes and inculcate policies that enable flexible working — establishing guidelines for working remotely, managing employee productivity in physical and digital workspaces, and formulating guidance for managers handling a distributed workforce which will be working from home. HR needs to review policies to make sure they are in accordance with the laws of the land. Policies specifically on leave, compensation, insurance have to be discussed to find out ways in which more benefits can be extended especially to the frontline or critical workers. For jobs that are considered essential and require employees to be physically present, strict procedures need to be adhered to ensure workplace hygiene and safety. Processes need to be redesigned to ensure minimum manpower presence at any point. In other words, employers need to ge

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