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4 Ways HR Leaders are Redefining Normal in the Workplace

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Was it only a year ago that talent shortages and the impact of disruptive workplace technologies were some of the biggest worries on HR professionals’ minds? Fast-forward to 2020, where COVID-19 has forced a dramatic shift in the way companies hire, train and retain workers.

In a rapidly changing global work environment where many employees lack trust that companies will do what’s necessary to keep them safe[1] and say their working life has been transformed through work-from-home, pay reductions or furloughs, HR leaders need more emphasis than ever on well-being and workplace flexibility with a focus on extending culture beyond the office to wherever employees work.

Here are four ways HR leaders can redefine normal to help workers flourish and accelerate growth.

Prepare your flexible recruiting strategy

The job market has been on quite a rollercoaster ride this year, with some industries like grocery and healthcare booming due to COVID-19 while others like hospitality and travel, have plummeted. Leveraging technology to stay on top of labor market trends is crucial to help companies anticipate short and long-term hiring needs, adjust hiring plans and weed through applications to determine candidate quality.  Whether for temporary or core full-time staffing, HR leaders need to make data-driven decisions to manage their workforce planning.

For businesses of all sizes, virtual interviewing has replaced most face-to-face meetings for the foreseeable future. [2] For some, that simply requires Zoom or Microsoft Teams, but for larger recruiting needs, especially high-volume seasonal hiring, companies require flexible virtual programs and recruitment support options, like Project RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing), that can respond to their evolving needs. A large retailer with nearly 2,000 stores in North America needed a talent solution with a scalable outside team that could help them find, screen, hire and onboard seasonal associates in regional locations across the nation—ultimately helping the company to expand its hiring footprint further than ever before.

Reinvent how and where learning happens

From the advent of ‘on-the-job’ training during the industrial revolution to the dawn of the digital age in the 1970s, significant historical events have routinely impacted how learning happens. 2020’s COVID-19 global pandemic seems to mark another shift as companies adjust to training in a new socially distant normal where more face-to-face meetings are replaced with virtual communications and telework.[3]

It’s not a temporary change. Even post COVID-19, 81% of employees say they will want a chance to work remotely, and nearly all want more learning opportunities such as career counseling and upskilling.[4] Tech giant InfoSys, which serves clients in more than 50 countries plans to keep at least half of its 240,000 employees working from home permanently. That will only be successful, according to CEO Salil Parekh, with a learning and coaching strategy that enables employees to take video-based certification assessments as well as a multitude of skills training sessions that are accessible anytime, anywhere.[5]

Training at this level will require more companies to provide on-demand quality coaching that’s applicable to employees at all levels. For leaders who find themselves in uncharted territory managing remotely, the right coaching approach can improve engagement, clarify expectations and align goals with the organization.

Build morale, prevent burnout

As the pandemic drags on, many employees face burnout as they struggle to manage their work from home with numerous interruptions and increased personal demands. That’s especially true for parents who are juggling not only careers but also virtual schooling.[6]

The feelings of isolation experienced when working remotely can lead to negative emotions such as loneliness, irritability, worry and guilt. Given everything on HR leaders’ plates, many are engaging coaches to serve as sounding boards to help workers navigate change and build resilience. A one-on-one coaching session can address topics ranging from managing stressful remote team conflict to strengthening work-from-home wellness habits, such as stepping away from computers more often to take a short walk or remembering to take a vacation day for self-care or mental health breaks.

Avoid one-size-fits-all approach

While many want to work from home right now, some employees are anxious to get back to the office. Companies that were already navigating a multi-generational workplace now need to consider the additional complexity of COVID on workers’ different wants and needs[7] while still creating a common culture.

HR leaders must create options to keep employees engaged and productive no matter where their office setting. Companies should provide detailed guidelines as well as any specific restrictions and expectations when workers do return to the office. Employees should also feel confident of their job security, no matter which option they decide on.

As organizations aim to define their new normal—whether that’s remote or in an office setting—it will be crucial to build an end-to-end strategy with a partner that offers support throughout the talent lifecycle. That’s the most effective way to encourage a flexible workforce ready to embrace change and leverage innovation.

To learn more about how RightCoach™ and other Talent Solutions products can help your HR team, visit