The New Normal Christopher SmithJune 24, 2021

5 Ways HR Can Adapt to Change in the Post-COVID Age

5 Ways HR Can Adapt to Change in the Post-COVID Age

Busy HR managers are becoming even busier in today’s remote, digital-first world, and to keep up, they must find ways to adapt to change and streamline workflows. 

At the same time, many organizations are beginning to see HR as a strategic function – after all, workforce performance and employee metrics directly impact the bottom line.

To stay relevant, many companies have chosen to accelerate their HR transformation by adopting new digital tools, new business practices, and new ways of thinking about HR.

5 Ways HR Can Adapt to Change in the Post-COVID Age

There is no one-size fits all recipe for staying adaptable and relevant in the digital era, but there are a few strategies that can boost HR’s value and performance.

Here are a few ways HR can adapt to change in the era after COVID-19:

1. Become data-driven

Data-driven business practices are used in a number of business functions, from marketing to IT to product development.

Many in HR are also realizing the value of data and data-driven methods.

HR analytics can, for instance, be used to understand:

  • Core employee metrics, such as employee productivity and employee retention
  • The efficiency of HR-driven business initiatives
  • The different stages of the employee experience
  • HR workflows

Since data offers objective information about the real world, it allows HR managers to quantitatively measure performance, rather than making decisions based on emotions or opinions.

The results of this include better business outcomes, a better work environment, and greater efficiency in the HR department.

2. Adopt process improvement methodologies

Workflows and business practices naturally evolve over time. However, unless a proactive approach is taken to process improvement, the rate of change can be too slow.

In today’s ever-changing business landscape, it is therefore crucial to adapt and continually optimize existing business processes.

One of the best ways to do this is by implementing process improvement methodologies. 

Lean and Six Sigma are two examples of process improvement methodologies that are built upon continual improvement.

Lean, for instance, aims to:

  • Reduce wasted resources and effort
  • Shorten business process life cycles
  • Maximize value for customers and all stakeholders

Applying process improvement methodologies such as these can help HR professionals understand the strengths and weaknesses of their current workplace – and, more importantly, increase efficiency.

3. Treat employees as customers

Today, there is a shortage of talented workers in certain business areas, such as IT. One consequence of this skills deficit is that employers are finding it more difficult to attract and retain top talent.

Recruitment and talent management, therefore, are receiving an increased focus in many HR departments. 

One way to attract and keep more talented workers is by cultivating a strong employer brand.

This means, among other things, that employees should be treated almost like customers. Employees are, after all, “shopping around” for employers. Most importantly, if the demand for talent outstrips the supply, then employers must face the fact that they are operating in a “buyer’s market.”

There are several ways to improve the employer brand and make the workplace more attractive to candidates.

A few include:

  • Offering employee training opportunities
  • Creating a career development program
  • Offering competitive compensation
  • Investing in high-quality leadership and management
  • Creating a great work environment

In short, creating a great workplace and a great employee experience is one of the best ways to ensure that employees stay loyal for the long-term.

4. Invest in modern HR tools

Digital transformation is affecting every area of the business, including HR. 

HR transformation, therefore, should remain a top priority, both now and into the future. Both today and in the years ahead, after all, new technology will continue to reshape the way HR operates.

This is not to say that HR will become a tech-driven function – but it does mean that HR should leverage technology to its fullest extent.

Among other things, this means:

Every HR professional must ultimately recognize that digital technology is permanently reshaping the workplace – and the sooner they digitize their own workflows, the easier their workflows will be.

5. Understand and optimize the digital employee experience

The employee experience, according to research firms such as Gallup, cover the entire life cycle of the employee.

According to their seven-stage model, for instance, that experience includes recruitment, employee onboarding, employee engagement, and departure, among others.

Many HR departments have processes in place designed to optimize metrics at each stage of this journey.

The digital side of the employee experience, though, is less understood – and this is understandable, since it is continually evolving.

Since employees spend so much time working with software, it is crucial to understand how these tools affect employee performance, engagement, and productivity.

To set about optimizing the digital employee experience:

  • Create a program that specifically addresses the digital side of the workplace experience
  • Monitor how digital software and digital workflows affect employee attitudes, mindsets, productivity, and engagement
  • Design a digital adoption strategy aimed at accelerating employee software onboarding and training
  • Use self-service tools, such as digital adoption platforms (DAPs), to simplify and streamline technical support

As the world becomes more digital, so too will the employee experience – and HR managers will need to pay closer attention to the digital workplace and how it impacts core employee metrics.

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