The role of HR has been quite challenging during the COVID pandemic. This crisis has created massive changes in the way organizations operate and how employees work. These are likely to cause significant changes in the Role of the HR Business Partner across organizations and the skills required to perform their roles effectively in the post-COVID world.
The role of the HR Business Partner or HRBP as it popularly known as, is the critical linkage between the organization’s business goals, strategy and core values and the people operations of a business unit or team.
In the post-COVID world, HRBPs will be tasked to drive rapid business recovery, continuity, and growth by managing the people processes. At the same time, organizations are going through massive digital transformation in terms of how work is done and managed.
Huge changes in the work environment, triggered by the pandemic and fueled by ever-increasing digitization have created significant changes in the goals and priorities of HRBPs across organizations.
Here are a few of the new priorities for HRBPs:
1. Drive Change Management
The operating model of most organizations has undergone significant changes due to the pandemic. Work from home and hybrid working will become the new normal in most organizations.
HR policies and process need to be realigned, adapted and revised in sync this new reality. HRBPs would require playing a key role in communicating and implementing such changes. Their inputs would valuable in redesigning the policies; they would also need to seek and analyze feedback from the employees once the policies are implemented to improve their effectiveness.
2. Manage Digital Transformation
The new workplace model requires use of digital tools and platforms. Organizations are digitizing every people process including recruitment, onboarding, performance management, recognition, compensation, learning and development, etc.
Organizations are investing heavily in HRMS platforms, employee recognition platforms, collaboration tools, performance management systems and other such tools. The HRBPs would need to play a critical role in driving the implementation of such HR digital platforms, right from understanding the requirements to driving adoption among the workforce.
3. Reinforce Organizational Culture
Remote working and even remote onboarding has made it extremely difficult for organizations to promote their core values and build the desired organization culture. In the post-pandemic word, the HRBPs would need to make renewed efforts to reinforce the organizations’ core values among the workforce.
One of the critical points is the orientation and integration of the new hires into the organization culture. Due to the challenges of remote working, HRPBs need to hand-hold new employees and help them understand and absorb the culture of the organization.
4. Refocus on Coaching and People Development
The pandemic and the subsequent changes in the way of work have caused disruption in the people development process. Organizations need to reinvest in their people especially in blended learning and development programs and creating a culture of coaching and mentorship in the new hybrid work environment.
The HRBPs need to play a critical role in driving these hybrid learning and development models, ensuring employee participation and getting feedback required to tweak these programs. They also need to guide supervisors to coach and mentor team members, especially those have joined recently.
5. Rebuild Employee Engagement
One of the biggest challenges faced by HR teams in managing the employees working remotely is that of keeping them engaged and motivated. Employee engagement has taken a hit in most organizations due to remote working. This is slowly by surely going to take a toll on the employee productivity and retention.
HRBPs need to rebuild employee engagement in the current hybrid work environment. Employee engagement initiatives that have worked well in the pass in the offline world are unlikely to work as effectively.
6. Focus on Holistic Employee Wellness
In the past, employee wellness was restricted to employee health insurance plans and having a fitness center at office or conducting fitness sessions once in a while. These initiatives were aligned to compliance and employee engagement needs.
The pandemic has changed the paradigm of employee wellness and made it an integral part of people management. Organizations are not just looking at the physical wellness of employees but also mental and emotional wellness. HRBPs need to drive such wellness programs across the workforce, ensure maximum participation and track their effectiveness.
The new work paradigm of the HRBPs requires new skills that they need to master to be able perform their roles effectively.
A few of these new skills are listed below:
1. Digital Savviness
HRBPs need to be highly proficient in the use of various digital tools and technology to stay connected with virtual teams and manage various HR processes digitally. They might be the first port of call for employees facing issues in using the new digital HR tools. They should be in a position help them for basic queries.
2. HR Data Analytics
The large–scale adoption of digital HR tools will result in huge amounts of HR-related data. HRBPs need to analyze and make sense of this data; and generate meaningful insights from it that can serve as inputs for decision-making. HR related decisions are likely to more data-driven than ever before.
3. Creativity and Out-of-the-Box Thinking
In this dynamic work environment, HRBPs will be required to be much more creative and come up with out-of-the-box solutions, especially around employee engagement and wellbeing. Tried and tested formulas from the past are unlikely to work in this new normal.
Also read Key Trends in HR for 2021 and Beyond
The tremendous changes at the workplace due to the pandemic would require redefining the role of the HR Business Partner in the post-COVID world to drive higher levels of employee satisfaction and faster business growth/ recovery.
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