What HR Leaders Should be Thinking About Now

ManpowerGroup recently hosted the debut webinar in its Human Age Event Series, ‘Transformation of Work: What HR Leaders Should be Thinking About‘.

ManpowerGroup’s Chief Talent Scientist Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic moderated the discussion and was joined by two globally renowned human capital experts, Josh Bersin, Global HR and Future of Work Analyst, and Christy Pambianchi, EVP and Chief Human Resources Officer of Verizon. The conversation is now available to be watched on-demand and focuses on how we turn crisis into an opportunity to reimagine a better future for work and for workers.

Here are some of the conversation highlights:

‘If you lose the human touch then you lose the secret sauce of what makes your company.’

As emphasised in the last few months, a company can’t be run successfully without putting the health and safety of employees first. Fortunately, most HR managers are wired that way; they’re naturally oriented towards wanting to help.

We are also learning that the ability to adapt and move quickly is necessary for HR managers to remain effective. Company playbooks are being developed and updated in real time – we no longer have weeks to implement changes and must be comfortable with a ‘now’ mentality.

‘We’ve been dealing with people being very, very unsettled and feeling a lack of control.’

In today’s workplace, stress and anxiety levels are high. Employees are worried about their own health and that of their immediate family, school closures, and elderly relatives. They also have the stress of the economic repercussions this pandemic has caused and how that may be impacting them financially. Recent events stemming from racial inequalities and injustices may also be heightening the stress. Employers should be maintaining open dialogue about what is happening while contributing to change.

‘I feel like I know more about my colleagues now than I did before.’

We’re seeing our colleagues in their living rooms with children in the background. This connection makes us closer and more empathetic. But we can’t all work from home forever. Realistically, only about 30 percent of the entire workforce is made up of jobs where this is possible. What will more likely happen, is this idea of a ‘hybrid office’ model, where companies will have an office space, or a ‘home base’ for when face to face meetings are necessary. Employees will be expected to be in the office when appropriate, offering much more fluidity than the typical five-day, 9-5 schedule. Even business travel will likely see change, as we have learned many meetings, but not all, can be done virtually.

‘It’s important to slay orthodoxies and try new ways of doing things.’

As we have seen, workers are having to change and adapt to new ways of working. They need to have an open mindset to embrace change with motivation and willingness to learn new skills. Currently, employees are spending more time learning, due in part to the fact that they have more time at home.

Employers can play a role in upskilling by offering online training in relevant programs, as well as offer resource hubs. Some of the best leadership development is also happening now, as leaders are also having to adapt and grow with the changing circumstances. Soft skills, or power skills, are more important than ever. Listening, empathy, kindness, forgiveness, patience, followership, and many others are essential to everybody’s job and employees are trying to learn those skills as fast as possible.

‘I think companies are more comfortable with the rapid pace of change, maybe our company can adapt a little faster than we thought.’

COVID has demonstrated that transformation can happen at a faster pace than ever imagined. Digital tools, for example, can be implemented in a much more agile fashion. Companies have been able to pull off a cultural transformation in two weeks that, before COVID, wouldn’t have been done in 10 years.

The experts suggest designing for a crisis, not once a lifetime, but maybe once every five to 10 years as a way of encouraging organisations to embed speed and agility into their cultural DNA, so they are more prepared to respond effectively to the next crisis.

‘We’re relying on communication as a means to drive connectivity in culture.’

Communication is key – such as offering discussions, whether it be through support sessions, team meetings, or open forums allowing for conversations to take place. Currently, these team dynamics are easier to implement, given most employees already know each other from sharing an office space. However, as we continue to transition to a more virtual and remote working world, we will need to take into account there may be more disconnect between employees, prompting employers to work harder to bridge these gaps.

Watch the full webinar to get additional insights.

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