If there is one big lesson that the pandemic has taught us, it has to be about human strength. Ironically, a crisis that imposed social-distancing upon us also exhibited the spectacular impact that manifests when people come together. People came together like never before. This happened in the most challenging and uncertain phases that the businesses had ever confronted. Work-from-home has become a staple work approach, and remote workers are now the spine of business continuity. Even in the worst-hit companies, virtual collaboration and support have injected resilience, hope, and momentum. This has set the stage for resetting the HR agenda in the new normal.
So where do we go from here?
I reckon that as we step into the ‘new normal’, we would need to embrace many radical shifts. We would witness renewed acceleration for some existing, but so far nascent, HR (Human Resources) trends.
I think we should brace up for these five HR trends in the new normal.
- A more decentralized workforce: With the emergence and proven impact of virtual work models, organizations have realized the gig economy’s value. It would be extended into newer formats now. More and more talent will be spread all over the globe. Flexible recruitment maps would be common. The emphasis on a distributed and diverse workforce that spans many regions, gender-brackets, races, skills, and professions would be profoundly visible.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) enters mainstream: The crisis has been quite a moment for Artificial Intelligence (AI) to shine. Organizations have seen how, where, and how much value is created when Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools support HR processes. These processes may range from simple to complex ones, like recruitment pool-mapping and technical screening for employee development. This value will be taken forward and built upon with urgency now. Investments will roll in so that HR teams can augment their capabilities and deliver more engagement and simplicity to employees. They have to cut costs and attrition rates. I see a lot of interest building up in this area.
3. Automation: As the ‘New Normal’ settles in, some hesitation and well-grounded caution would continue to drive the mandate for social distancing. Even employee safety and welfare would stay as priorities. This would lead to a lot of tasks finding support from technology. Smart HR tools will jump in to help humans do their jobs even when they are sitting at some distance. Co-bots, drones, AR, VR, and HR automation would deepen their presence as we move ahead.
4. The Six-Feet Office: I hear many HR conversations where there is both curiosity and uncertainty about how the new workplace will look and function. The norms of social distancing will redefine the design, culture and etiquette-list of the new office. Whether it is entering an elevator or sitting in a meeting, people will operate in a touch-less fashion. We can expect more modern structures and rules to guide the cogs and wheels of this average office.
5. HR’s Amplified Power: Human resource management has emerged as an essential function in delivering stability, security and continuity to the employees and managers alike. This will gather a new and strategic weight now. Recruitment, management, compensation, learning, development etc. will not be some dry aspects of an employee journey. Organizations will see these areas shaping into pivotal factors that ultimately carve the new customer experiences one aims to create. HR teams will have to create employee experiences instrumental, and strong enough to lead to these utopian customer experiences. They would need technology to liberate them for these strategic concerns now. They would deliver outcomes, just like any other business function does. They will cease to be inhabitants of the cost center. HR would be the impact center for the post-COVID organization, with enhanced collaboration among other business functions, and a solid seat at the board-room table.
I can see that the new world would be different. But I am sure it will be good-different. As long as we remember our lessons and reinvent ourselves for the opportunities, challenges and disruptions that the world will confront next.