Written by Andrew Schweihs
May marks month number three of a drastically different working world for most people around the globe. HR leaders in organizations such as hospitals, pharmacies, grocery stores, and logistics organizations are working to keep their employees safe, while they fight on the front lines of this pandemic, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t take this time to say THANK YOU to those fighting on the front lines, and those HR leaders fighting for those essential workers. Industries such as retail, hospitality and manufacturing have been particularly hard hit and HR leaders have had to make incredibly tough staffing decisions, often resulting in layoffs. In industries such as technology, education and professional services, HR leaders have had to adapt quickly to shift to our new normal, remote work environments.
Although we are all hoping for this global pandemic to be over sooner rather than later, as business leaders in Human Resources, we have to acknowledge that COVID-19 will continue to be a concern through the upcoming months and likely far beyond that. For employers with non-essential workers, it is critical that we do everything in our power to adapt to this drastically different business environment, which includes enabling our workforces to function remotely wherever possible. As we’ve learned from top health officials, this will help to keep our essential workers safe and help slow the spread of this virus. To give credit where it is due, businesses and people around the world have already done a great deal to adapt quickly and shifting to remote work, regardless of how choppy and sudden that shift might have been, but there is still more to be done.
There is still a lot of antiquated thinking out there in the HR realm as well as rules and regulations in place that seemingly prevent us from moving to this now necessary fully digital and remote work environment. Some examples I have thought of and seen recently include:
- State laws preventing employers from requiring direct deposit, resulting in employers scrambling to deliver paychecks to employees in a compliant, timely and contact-less manner
- Laws that require a paper check to be provided to an employee upon termination, rather than a direct deposit of wages with an online pay statement
- I-9 processing requirement, such as document verification, that make virtual onboarding of employees overtly difficult
- Stigmas associated with full time remote work, such as the assumptions that people working remotely are not productive, and that remote work automatically results in feelings of isolation
- Organizations are lagging in adopting a digital-first approach to managing human capital. One example of this is maintaining paper employee files or sticking with paper time cards instead of moving to a cloud HRIS system and a mobile application or digital time clock for time and attendance.
I am hopeful that corporations and governments around the globe will fast-track taking measures to improve policy, processes, and technology around how we manage our people. It is time to jump to wholeheartedly adopt a digital-first approach, enabling processes that do not require person to person contact. The downstream effects of adopting a digital-first approach to HR processes and policies increasingly broadens the ability to work remotely, which is generally more efficient, and more importantly safer, during a pandemic like we are facing with COVID-19.
Technology, particularly technology enabling remote work, has become more and more prevalent, and organizations that leverage this technology will see increased collaboration in their organizations, without losing much in the way of personal contact and connectedness. This approach will positively impact the bottom line for organizations, saving money on expensive office space and infrastructure costs. It will also benefit the environment with less emissions from heating and cooling large spaces and the elimination of commuting.
This pandemic has caused heartbreak for so many around the globe, healthfully, economically, and socially. We would be remiss if we did not recognize that as Human Resource leaders, we can play a small role in improving our employees’ lives by assessing how to work more effectively in a digital-first world now, and in the future.
Andrew is a Senior Consultant bringing over 10 years of professional Human Resources experience to the HRchitect team. Andrew started his career as a functional HR Business Partner before transitioning his focus to HRIS. Andrew’s HR experience covers a wide variety of industries including technology, retail, travel, and non-profit. This functional and technical experience provides Andrew with a unique perspective on how HR organizations work and a proven ability to design and operate highly effective HCM systems.
To learn more about Andrew’s experience please visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aschweihs