The UK and other areas of the world announced tougher restrictions just before Christmas following a rapid rise in new variants of the Covid-19 infection. In addition to the chaos, new business models, disruptive technology and agile working are constantly changing the way we work. Pre-Covid-19, working from home was driven by technical advancements and cultural changes. However, this is not the case anymore. Traveling to work is simply not an option for the unforeseeable future. Here are a few of the top priorities for HR leaders in the new normal.
Data Privacy In Remote Working
When the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018, many organizations implemented systems and tools to keep their data safe. These systems were designed keeping in mind physical office space. How can businesses achieve GDPR compliance in the new normal? HR leaders must review the Data Protection Impact Assessment and identify the risks. Data privacy and GDPR compliance can be one of the biggest challenges if your business has offered no or limited flexible working in the past.
Security In Remote Working
Covid-19 has forced societies to reorganize and reinvent the way we work. Europol’s 2020 cybercrime report highlights that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the situation when we all are most vulnerable. Covid-19 has accelerated existing threats like social engineering, phishing, ransomware attacks and SIM swapping. Cybercrime against financial institutions increased by 238% during the first 4 months of the pandemic. Criminals are targeting the gaps between processes and technology within the supply chain. The sudden surge in working from home has tempted cybercriminals to exploit the vulnerabilities of network and IT infrastructure.
Making Decisions With Limited Information
People and various stakeholders are still looking at leaders to lead. It can be difficult for leaders with 90% of their workforce at home to help everyone work together and align around a common goal. Delaying decisions due to fewer data may make sense when there is business as usual, but in this new normal that is defined by urgency and lack of data, waiting to decide is a decision in itself. HR leaders should reject the hierarchical models and instead involve more stakeholders. They should encourage different opinions and debate ideas. This approach can lead to smarter decisions without discounting speed.
Resilience During Difficult Changes
Pandemics bear many unwanted gifts; stress and adversity are a few of them. Leaders should quickly adapt to the new normal, manage stress (emotional, cognitive, behavioral and physical) and continue to lead forward. You can say a lot of things, but it is what you do that ultimately matters. These are tough times, and anyone can crumble when placed in a series of difficult situations. There might not be a direct link between leadership and personal resilience; however, I believe resilience can be built through leadership. HR leaders should focus on building resilient organizations rather than just concentrating on efficiency or productivity.
Support For Diversity
After George Floyd’s death, the Black Lives Matter movement raised many questions. If leaders want diversity, they better start believing in it. More than 8 million people (or approximately 13%) in the UK belong to BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic), and there are approximately 34 million women. What employers must understand is that by not supporting diversity, they are not tapping into this talent pool. According to McKinsey & Co, organizations with women and minorities in their leadership positions have better financial performances. Organizations should have a systematic approach to diversity to achieve a diverse global talent pool.
Employee Value Proposition
Mandated operational restrictions due to the pandemic have affected various organizations across several sectors. UK’s new points-based immigration system has made it tougher for employers in the UK to hire from the EU/EEA. The chances of attractive offers from competitors to skilled workers are higher than ever, considering the furlough scheme will end in March 2021and it only covers 80% of the wages and no bonus. Covid-19 has eroded the organizational commitment, which may reduce employee loyalty. In layman’s terms, the employee value proposition (EVP) consists of the employee’s salary, holiday pay, HR policies, the organizational culture and values. A well-planned EVP is crucial for employee loyalty and a positive work environment, and it should be consciously maintained by HR leaders.
We cannot refute the fact that, despite the negative effects of Covid-19, we have learned a lot about agile working and how technology can support this. In the new normal, employee engagement should not be left behind. Emotional commitment and motivation to remain committed to the business and its vision and goals are crucial.