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How to Ensure HR’s Post Pandemic Relevance

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As the world slowly transitions from Pandemic mode to the New Normal, the implications and the amount of work required to adjust is not lost on many of us. Our perspectives on talent acquisition and management of priorities have now changed and strategic planning is now even more critical than before. It was obvious during the early stages of the Pandemic, that the organizations with multiskilled and flexible employees and people-centric policies were more poised to cope with the challenges. 

Many of the jobs that were thought to be important did not make the list as being essential in the final analysis. This might have been obvious to HR but now we have executives who are also accepting this reality as companies attempt to transform and adapt. 

We need to go beyond just the realization though. As we continue to build high performance work teams that would efficiently and effectively meet organizational goals and objectives, we need theoretical and practical knowledge as well as human resource leadership. Human resource practitioners should now seize every opportunity to “level up” and sharpen our skills to remain relevant contributors to our organization’s development. 

We should be looking for the opportunity to lead our companies. The days of accepting our role as just hiring and disciplining staff and planning staff functions are long gone. We should seek out the other areas of our company’s operations that require our high-level contributions. We should now be preparing ourselves to take those risks and be accountable. 

John Underwood, consultant and author of the Manager’s First Aid Kit sees it this way, “To successfully navigate the remaining phases of the Pandemic and to position organizations to survive or thrive in a post-pandemic world, individual and functional leadership is required from HR practitioners”.

Ms. Underwood believes that at the functional level, astute HR practitioners must lead the charge in preparing the organization and its people for the New Normal and suggests a four-point action plan to accomplish this.

Re-imagine the business model. Engage in critical analysis to determine what products/services/functions should be retained, improved, outsourced or terminated. Engage in strategic workforce planning. Ensure that HR and its various initiatives remain agile, financially justifiable and aligned to the new strategic business objectives.

A recent PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) article on how the new normal is changing the future of HR stated, “It is vital that HR evolves and transforms across every element of the HR lifecycle to meet a new set of organizational needs. Simply put, HR will need to increasingly find ways to support business leaders in restructuring during and after the pandemic, take workforce rationalization measures while managing risks associated with such interventions, and increase productivity and employee engagement”.

The observation made in this article suggests that HR must now be a strategic partner in businesses with our roles evolving from staff administration to business partners at eye level with senior management.  Strategic decisions must be made with regards to developing approaches to work more efficiently, to manage staff productivity even while some work remotely and to place renewed focus on employee health, digitalizing processes and sustainable talent management all while remaining profitable and competitive. 

In conclusion, we agree with Ms. Underwood when she says that the two most essential individual leadership skills in this context are adaptability and resilience. Disruptions are inevitable. So, HR practitioners must find a way to navigate that terrain with agility rather than railing against it and yearning for simpler times.

The Human Resource Professionals of Antigua and Barbuda (HRPAB) is a registered non-profit, professional association dedicated to the advancement of the HR profession for national development. We began informally from 2009 and legally registered in 2011. HRPAB’s growing membership represents private and public organizations as well as independent consultants specializing in one or more areas of human resource management and development. Membership is offered for three categories: professional, non-professional, and honorary. You may contact us via email at hrpro.ab@gmail.com or on Facebook and Instagram @HRPro268.

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