Market insights During the COVID-19 crisis of Human resources management

Pedersen & Partners conducted a study of the human resource managers about how their businesses operated through the crisis, the difficulties, the key areas and the qualifications needed to sustain daily life in an extraordinary condition almost 3 months after Portugal was locked down due to the pandemic COVID-19.

The HR experts we met concluded that in the COVID-19 crisis we face the most difficult challenges: connectivity and knowledge delivery for employees (30%), management of individuals and families situations (23%), and learning and fostering new teleworking skills (20%).

In light of these challenges, it is understandable that, considering the vast proportions of workers employed remotely, 43% of those interviewed selected Human Resources as the department which was most relevant or the most important factor for keeping organizations working. The 24% of enterprises surveyed carried out operations in the star department and 14% received main correspondence.

Activision Blizzard, a Santa Monica-based video gaming corporation, has relocated 99% of its ten thousand workers to remote jobs, with the exception of janitorials, safety and other critical personnel. “We had a remote-work policy, but, as you can imagine, it was not designed to handle a situation where everybody would work remotely while experiencing the crisis we are in right now,” said Claudine Naughton, chief people officer at Activision Blizzard. “Our remote policy could not have anticipated that hospitals and health care would be difficult to access as schools and other supporting services have closed. Our policy was not structured to support working from home while employees would be dealing with health-related challenges or caring for their kids or other dependents.”

The company quickly updated its remote work policies to include various working hours and a kind of versatility that the firm had never previously offered its employees. These plans offer transitional options for teams of staff who usually need to collaborate to create a game like animators, artists and sound technicians.

The company has encouraged autonomous supervisors to collaborate with direct reports to build schedules that would better support their work-from-home lives.

Staff and the CEO in particular have decided to reconsider the path the company is taking to healthcare for staff. This led the organization to engage in more forward-thinking ways than the traditional care obligation, Naughton said. “The first thing we did was we said we’ve got to look at everything through the employees’ lens, and first and foremost is the health and well-being of the employees and their families,” she said.

The business contracts with doctors in cities where employees live to ensure that a specialist can deliver and lobby for them quickly in cases of illness and the need to attend a hospital. For staff and their families, the corporation includes both COVID-19 testing and care expenses.

Teleworking: the tip of the iceberg

We did not expect such an unequivocal response when we asked our investigative subjects if they wanted to continue telework in all positions when it is necessary after the coronavirus situation is over. More than 90% of the companies that we consulted stated that they do intend to continue this practice in the future. These responses are in line with a recent study by Gartner, more than 90% of the companies that we consulted stated that they do intend to continue this practice in the future. 

Of course, depending on the operation field, these can vary greatly. Remote working is in theory more feasible in industries such as IT and indeed, certain businesses operate 100% of their personnel remotely in this field. (for example Automattic, the owner of WordPress). We learnt that this pattern can be implemented in many other areas if we knew something over those months.

In all respects, it appears that COVID-19 has driven most businesses to see how much teleworking will go; even firms with communities less prone to this activity speak of intermediate options and hybrid models. The first step has already been taken, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. Changes in the organization’s mind, tools and working practices, which we will have to incorporate steadily into our business, mean a number of changes in the organization. In this phase, the staff will again be central to this process.

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