If there is one thing we know in a pandemic focused world, it is to social distance and to always wear a mask. However, as employees work from home and turn to video conferencing, perhaps the need to distance and wear a mask becomes irrelevant. For a post-pandemic human resources representative, this is not the case. Instead, they should not distance themselves at all; in fact, they should get closer to employees and wear four masks!
Question: What is meant by this statement?
Answer: HR Representatives should socially distance but not relationally distance, all while wearing the masks of the four new roles they will play in an evolving business world: Program Developer, Movie Star, Orator, and Cultural Anthropologist.
The Program Developer
This redefined HR Representative role does not create new software; it creates new retention programs. Businesses that are looking to save money can start by keeping their employees from leaving the company, which ADP reports costing companies $1,886 per employee. Creating a solid, employee-satisfying retention program can be tricky, but it can be done. The pre-pandemic HR office had many concerns regarding child care and elderly care, in a pandemic or post-pandemic world childcare concerns still continue but in a different form. One cost-free recommendation is to set meetings outside of virtual school hours while a pricier option may be company discounts on childcare. Other popular retention programs include education programs similar to the ones offered by Disney (pricy) and Google (budget-friendly). This gives employees a sense of confidence for their future and satisfaction with their employer. Other areas to consider looking to when creating retention programs are pay rate and counseling services.
The Movie Star
You don’t need to be a good actor; you just need to look good on-screen. Whether it’s for a video interview, online onboarding, or a simple one-on-one video call, HR Representatives should be well lit, have good tone, project well, and should present themselves as a believable individual who is there for the employees every need. Forbes offers additional tips for successful video conferencing. Who said there was any acting involved?
You don’t need to be the next Julius Caesar, you just need to be a decent storyteller who can tell the story of your company and how it has changed over time, especially through the pandemic. Talk about the culture that is developing and motivate them to be part of a new version of a successful business. Some prefer to be part of a new business venture anyway, so leading with a “we are all new to this version of the company” tone is probably your best bet if you want new employees to come in pumped and excited. Just one word of caution: beware the Ides of March!
The Cultural Anthropologist
Perhaps the hardest role the new HR Representative faces is not only being part of the newly developed company culture but also continuously studying it. With more people working from home and some companies reconsidering headquarter offices in leu of rented off-site spaces, it is important for the new representative to be there with the employees whether in a business zoom meeting or in an off-site location. It’s critical for HR Representatives to continue to do what they have always done, all while conducting research on the new culture of the company. This research can be used when creating onboarding and retention programs. The presence of HR in every capacity will be more crucial than ever; the last thing anyone needs is for their HR Representative to be an email that conveys no sense of personality, relationship, or connection to the company. Indeed, the best way to eliminate this is to be involved in-person whenever possible. Of course, when meeting in person, remember to social distance and always wear a mask.
What new challenges have the pandemic brought to the HR functions? What recommendations will you make to the HR specialists to cope with those challenges?
Steven Valenzuela is a senior at California State Polytechnic University Pomona. His experience in food and beverage has given him a deep knowledge of hotel food outlets, food trends, fine dining, beer, and wines. With over 15 years in the hospitality industry, he plans to utilize his Hospitality Management major in the areas of marketing and revenue management.
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