Three critical HR issues to focus on for the post-pandemic world

COVID-19 has created a ‘fog of confusion’ for leaders

Three critical HR issues to focus on for the post-pandemic world

In the past year, HR leaders have been bombarded with constant surveys, resources and product pushes that it’s created a sort of “fog of confusion”. “Lots of stuff have been great and very interesting,” said Peter Wood, founder/director at Partners in Change. “[But] the sheer volume can be overwhelming to kind of work out what’s significant [or] whether it’s the latest HR tech.”

Then there were the piling responsibilities such as the need to manage employee engagement through an uncertain and prolonged pandemic. “All these ideas jostle with the everyday demands of our roles,” he said in his opener at yesterday’s (June 10) HR Leaders Summit Asia.

Read more: HR Leaders Summit Asia is underway

HR remains at the forefront of the crisis

Yvonne Teo, vice president, HR APAC at ADP who gave the follow up address spoke in the same vein and echoed fellow HR heads in the audience who were “thrown into the spotlight” since the start of the pandemic. “It started with HR moving employees out of the office to work from home, to ensuring that they are safe and able to work effectively at home,” she said. “And simultaneously, we also had to work on enabling our managers and equipping them with skills to connect and communicate remotely.

“And before you know it, in the subsequent months, the mental well-being of employees start to take centre stage, as people start to feel the toll of working from home – work-life balance, inability to separate life from work, and unconducive work from home arrangements became issues to be dealt with.

“Right now in the current state with the pandemic under control in varying degrees, companies is the Asia Pacific region are reopening their offices so questions around the extent of flexibility, how hybrid and flexible it should be, has become commonplace topics in the organisation and for HR leadership.”

With so much going on for leaders, Wood hoped the day of insightful panel sessions and workshops from the industry’s thought leaders would help HR zero in on the most core issues that organisations must resolve as we emerge from the pandemic. He shared three critical issues that will require proper focus and clear solutions.

Read more: Will offices remain empty post pandemic?

1. The inevitable shift towards hybrid working

“No one’s very keen to go back to office,” he said. “Neither are organisations keen to be 100% working from home, so that seems to a given. But what will the future of hybrid working actually be like? The devil’s in the details.” From his observations he’s found that most organisations remain “on the fence” about the issue and have yet to settle of what the future of workplaces will look like, so that’s one critical area to figure out.

2. How to balance productivity with well-being

This is another difficult issue to work out as the past year has seen companies finally relent on calls for flexibility as well as pay more attention to employee well-being. However, questions around maintaining productivity and engagement remain – especially as we work towards achieving business recovery. It’ll thus be a tricky balancing act for leaders to figure out, policy-wise.

“How [do you] balance the needs of the organisation for flexibility and productivity with employees needs around well-being?” he said. “How can we empower employees to manage the boundaries of their work with the rest of their lives to avoid overload and burnout?”

Read more: Which HR policies will remain post-COVID 19?

3. How to get the best out of your workforce

This final area would be more of a concern for the longer term. “Once we’ve begun to move beyond the phase of getting flexibility for our existing workforces, how can we actually embrace some of the potential that remote working…has actually revealed?” he said. This will require a rethink of your ongoing talent mobility strategy, such as tapping on overseas-based workers but hiring them on a remote arrangement. “How can we look to a newer model which has great benefits in diversity?” he said. “By allowing a broader section of people, talented individuals from different parts of the world in different cultures, to join our organisation.”

Recent articles & video

KPMG New Zealand offers 18 weeks of paid leave for new parents

NZ breadmaker George Weston Foods heralded as diversity champion

Bunnings MD on connection, culture & healthy competition

Leakers 'don't belong here,' Apple CEO says on leaked memo

Most Read Articles

Exclusive Feature: Building trust in the remote workplace

Solving the skills shortage in ANZ: Is it time to consider wildcard talent?

Supervisor faces jail over Bitcoin mining at work