The HR industry has seen a lot of change in the last few years. The use of artificial intelligence and the gig economy's expansion has changed the landscape. And, most recently, the worldwide pandemic is changing the lives of millions of people while also redefining where and how work is done.

The Human Resources (HR) team is more important than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact organizations worldwide. When it comes to HR, their major focus is on helping companies break out of their traditional cocoon and embrace digital transformation.

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As a result, businesses are transforming at a rate not seen since the global financial crisis of 2008. During the pandemic, HR has been at the forefront of crisis management, risk management, and the redeployment of workers to remote working environments.

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In this post, we'll look ahead to see which HR trends will continue to drive change and which new ones will emerge to influence the future hybrid workforce.

Current role of HR

It may be claimed that HR’s role has evolved over the last 30 years, shifting from an administrative, personnel welfare, and discipline-focused job to one that has become more strategic, with a seat at the top table. HR leaders today have a strategic and board-level position that allows them to legitimately influence stakeholders while focusing on shareholder value and safeguarding shareholder return.

However, in recent years, HR's increased focus on excelling strategically and operationally has resulted in their attention being focused on reducing human capital expenditures. The interaction between HR and key business stakeholders has significantly improved as a result of this transition.

The development of layers of procedures and bureaucracy has reduced HR's agility and quickness. However, the global upheaval brought about by the pandemic is now driving business transformation, allowing HR professionals to rethink what they do and how they do it.

Putting the human back into human resources will have a big long-term influence on this opportunity.

The changing role of HR

The Coronavirus outbreak will likely have a long-term impact. Covid-19 has claimed the lives of thousands of people around the world, posing unprecedented threats to public health, food systems, and global supply chains. Furthermore, the ongoing impact is one that is wreaking havoc on the economy and the ability of businesses to operate.

Businesses have had little choice but to adapt their business models to address issues such as mandatory shutdowns and social distancing. As a result, HR and business divisions have collaborated to deploy, embrace, and use technology, resulting in a more flexible and technology-centric organization.

However, due to the automation and digitization of many business activities, including the successful use of HRM cloud-based tools to handle HR procedures, HR leaders now have more time to focus on the employee experience.

Employee onboarding, offboarding, performance reviews, payroll audit, a notice of leave absence requests, and recruitment are just a few of the essential HR operations that are efficiently managed by automation and HR Management software. As a result, HR's involvement in these processes is reduced to a minimum.

Of course, the upside is that Human Resources leaders can now spend more time with their employees while also managing more strategic initiatives that are aligned with their requirements. In other words, restoring the human aspect to Human Resources and providing the necessary capacity to think about people strategy.

How remote working is changing the role of HR?

The increasing acceptance of remote working will be one of Covid-19's lasting impacts on how people work and the changing role of HR. The widespread adoption of remote work, video conferencing, and telecommuting are unlikely to result in a return to pre-covid working practices in the near or long term.

Long, wasteful video meetings will likely be replaced with greater clarity, context, and succinct delivery as HR and wider workforce teams adjust to efficiency in remote working. As the crisis continues, human resources are fast responding to the lessons acquired.

According to a Gartner report, 82 percent of the 127 firm leaders polled in the areas of legal, compliance, finance, and real estate intend to allow a remote working portion of the time once employees return to work.

Nearly half of Gartner poll respondents (47 percent) indicated they plan to allow staff to work remotely full-time in the future. However, for certain businesses, flexible working hours and days will be the new normal. According to the poll, 43% of respondents plan to provide flexible days to their employees, while 42% plan to provide flexible hours.

Furthermore, the survey result revealed that businesses must examine not just how they will continue to manage a remote workforce, but also how they will manage a more hybrid workforce, which includes people who work remotely, in offices, and part-time.

The influence of cultural challenges on the role of HR

HR has traditionally been in charge of managing and maintaining workplace culture, including how to promote an engaging environment. However, in the current Covid-19 environment, the influence of labor culture difficulties will continue to grow.

Having a Human Resources leader has become more valuable as the worldwide pandemic has progressed. The organizations that have flourished in the face of uncertainty have done so by putting a strong emphasis on people, culture, and engagement.

Also Read: Top 5 HR Challenges to Overcome in 2021

Embracing an agile work culture is now considered the most effective way to engage geographically distributed workforces and teams. Workforces with greater agility can also adjust and respond to difficulties as they arise, which is far better than when work cultures are set in stone.

Agile cultures also allow for more accurate productivity evaluation, to keep employees engaged in their job regardless of their physical location.

Human Resources now has to determine how to modify the culture if it hasn't worked well in the past. Or if the ongoing pandemic has had an impact on the culture, then how to bring the culture back on track. While it is impossible to change a company's culture overnight, it can be changed over time, and HR needs to facilitate this progressive development.

In essence, culture is the way things are done around in any company. Every company's culture is distinct, and it's critical that employees participate in its evolution, as well as the organization's willingness to devote time to doing so.

The evolving role of HR in the future hybrid workforce

HR directors must examine a variety of elements when optimizing a hybrid workforce model, including structure, workflows, flexibility, adaptability, role design, and networks, to mention a few.

HR leaders must keep the following issues in mind when shaping the hybrid model of working in the organization's favor:

1. Make it a priority to develop an engaged staff

Working remotely can cause a lot of worry and anxiety; navigating between home and work commitments, as well as not meeting your coworkers, can cause employees to feel demotivated. HR's job is to create an engaged staff, as well as organize virtual team building, mental wellness, and fun activities. Understanding the interests and needs of employees should be a top priority.

Also Read: Why HRs must have SMART goals in 2021?

2. Use the digital technology of the 21st century

According to the KPMG survey, 50% of HR leaders are unprepared to exploit the technologies available to them. With a growing emphasis on employee well-being, HR will require the appropriate technologies to improve the employee experience. AI, predictive analytics, IT, and machine learning developments in HR procedures are the way forward.

3. Place a greater emphasis on performance that is measured by outcomes

Shared ownership and decision-making flexibility can encourage remote workers to concentrate on the end result. Employee performance should not be judged solely on the basis of strict reporting, but rather on the overall productivity and inventive thinking that a resource offers to the organization.

4. Examine the organizational structure

Juggling between layers to gain timely approvals is one of the most difficult aspects of remote employment. Rethinking the organizational structure and arranging direct reporting to make decision-making faster and more effective is in the hands of people and HR leaders.

5. Hiring strategies & upskilling current employees

In the hybrid approach, the type of labor, ability to absorb new technology advances, and unlearning capacity must all be taken into account when recruiting the workforce. In the COVID-19 era, the move from full-time workers to gig workers and consultants with flexible working hours are almost essential parts. In order to maximize output, HR leaders must also ensure that existing personnel are upskilled.

Summing it up

Putting it all together, human resources professionals have played a crucial role in the lives and work of their organizations’ employees throughout the crisis. The challenge and opportunity that lies ahead are to overcome the difficulties of bureaucracy that have plagued HR in the past in order to boost flexibility, agility, and evolve HR's function in response.

The era of digital labor and AI is not far off; it is already here, and the function of HR must be redefined to survive this digital transformation. Organizations will be able to survive and reach new heights in this disruptive era if they make the hybrid workforce model "the permanent way to go" as quickly as possible.

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