Work from Home: How HR will Manage?

Work from Home_ How HR will manage this new normal_

 

It was March 20, 2020; I was very much excited because next week I had to travel to Jaipur. My bag-packing was almost finished & I was ready for most awaiting two months of internship. Eventually, my daydream broke as the announcement came for temporary suspension of all domestic & international flights due to this pandemic. I was kind of shocked & skeptical about how am I going to do the internship. A few days later, a communication came from the company side & I was about to experience the Work from Home for the very first time. The WFH was new to me & I started to read about it from an employee perspective like how it is going to be, what are dos & don’ts etc. Everything seemed very random to me. Being an HR student, I started to understand the complexities of this new normal.

 

Challenges for HR in Work From Home era

 

Keeping the workforce motivated

 

motivated-through-the-summer-1200x600-848x400

In the WFH setup, the home has become the new office. Employees can lose track or get demotivated because they are not observing any change between home & office. The harder part is that no one knows when it will be over, so it became a challenge for HR to keep the employees motivated.

HR can keep their employees motivated in these ways

  • Create a forum for the employees where they can share their personal as well as professionals posts
  • Plan the team bonding online activities like games, quizzes, etc
  • Assign weekly collaborative tasks wherein the team will have to work on some refreshing assignments

Active engagement of the employees

 

Employee-Engagement-Ideas

Employee engagement is an essential parameter for the success of any organization, which depicts the behavior of the employees to go for an extra mile in completing tasks. In the WFH setup, employees are working in isolation & they might feel loneliness or unattached to the job. It is a major challenge for HR to keep all employees engaged.

The best possible ways to keep employees engaged

  • Invest in E-Learning, provide opportunities to the employees to learn new skills
  • Switch to digital R&R platform to acknowledge the employees’ contributions

Performance management of employees

 

 

Performance management-1

 

Employees are working from home so there could be miscommunications between managers & employees. There are some jobs whose deliverables are more qualitative, so these employees can miss the chance to convey their efforts. In such a case, it will be hard to perform performance management activities.

Ways to do the performance management of employees effectively

  • There is a need for meaningful goal setting & employee-specific KRAs & KPIs
  • Encourage open communication by adopting open door policy etc.

Deploying the employee-friendly Policy for WFH

 

policy

Framing the policy for WFH is a big task for HR. Some companies have announced that they will continue this WFH after the pandemic also.

“Nasdaq-listed BPO and analytics firm EXL Service, which has about 70% of its 32,000 employees in India, expects some of its staffers to work from home on a long-term basis. Insurance aggregator PolicyBazaar.com also sees a similar trend”. Source: Economics times

Here HR will have to consider each & every obstacle in making the policy for the entire organization.

Handling the employee’s health & mental well-being issues

 

health

The pandemic is forcing the employees to isolate themselves, stay indoors for a more extended period. It is ultimately going to affect the employee’s health & mental well being. It is a big responsibility on the shoulder of HR to take care of employees’ health & mental well-being.

Some practical ways to do it

  • Form a counseling cell in the organization and assign a mentor to each employee to discuss any issues
  • Incorporate mobile wellness application and assign health tasks to employees
  • Conduct online Zumba sessions etc

 

Initiatives taken by companies in the WFH era

Facebook

“We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale,” Zuckerberg said

  •  It has made most of its open roles in the United States available for remote recruiting and hiring
  • Company has planned to switch its half of the employees to work from home in the next ten years
  • Introduced the video conferencing platform “Rooms”
  • Allowed employees to work from home for the rest of the years

Google

  •  It gave $1000 work from home allowance to its employees
  • Offered an additional 14 weeks of parental/family paid leaves
  • Allowed employees to work from home for the rest of the years

Microsoft

  • Offered additional 12 weeks of paid Pandemic School and Childcare Closure Leaves
  • Introduced a dedicated 24/7 COVID-19 Medical Advisory Helpline for employees and their families
  • Encouraged employees to use Microsoft Cares, a counseling service as part of the benefits program

Workday

  • Providing its workers with the equivalent of two weeks’ pay to cover costs resulting from having to work from home
  • Established a relief fund to provide additional support to its employees
  • Increased the number of days offered for child care in the benefit program

Bank of Ireland

The bank has increased employee access to its wellness program, which includes an app with online seminars and interactive courses.

Bluewolf

BlueWolf used gamification technology to engage the employees & created a #GoingSocial program. Here it gives rewards and points to employees for publishing a blog post on the official company’s blog.

Source: PeopleMatters, Forbes, RepublicWorld

 

Conclusion

The pandemic has brought a lot of chaos, but organizations have taken it as an opportunity. I can say we have fast-forwarded ourselves. We are deploying work from home at a fast pace. I don’t say organizations will completely switch to work from home, but there will be a good portion. In this scenario, HR is going to be the key player. They have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulder because of employees’ high expectations. 

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Vivek Sahu

Vivek Sahu

MBA- Human Resource, IIM Ranchi

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