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COVID accelerated the future of work – here are the 5 biggest impacts on HR

CQ fluency’s, Sandra DiNuzzo, reveals the hiring and retention strategies used to overcome the impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic left a lasting impact on the workplace – not only on where employees work, but also on how companies hire, retain, and engage. Organizations had to adapt policies to fit the work-from-home model, switch to video interviews, team and conference calls, change the way they track productivity, and be more proactive in maintaining employee relationships. And oftentimes, a change in one area prompted adjustments in others.

We now required a heaping dose of creativity and impromptu actions in quelling employees’ fears, promoting mental health, and holding their organizations together.

CQ fluency hasn’t been immune to the effects of the pandemic. Like many organizations, we had to think on our feet and quickly pivot our approach to work. Though the pandemic is fading more and more in the rearview mirror, its effects on the workplace still linger.

5 of the greatest shifts that remain and how we’re addressing (and embracing) them here at CQ fluency:

1. companies with a purpose, professional growth, and robust package have competitive edge

The pandemic gave many people time to reevaluate their personal and professional lives. We know many professionals had to completely shift their way of working from daily commuting to working from home. They now spend their former commuting time doing other things, such as exercising, meal prepping, spending time with family, or working on passion projects. However they used this time, it helped many employees to put their jobs and duties into a different perspective.

As a result, many professionals realized they were no longer happy in their current roles and needed a change. They didn’t want to go back to the way things were after realizing how much they were missing out on.

For me in HR, this was both a blessing and a curse; we had the opportunity to recruit great talent leaving their current employers, but we also ran the risk of losing our own top talent. To combat these effects, companies need to do more.

We have a diverse workforce with a combination of longer-tenured employees as well as recent hires made this past year. (I am celebrating 5 years!) Our turnover rate falls below 10% and gives us a competitive edge against our industry. I attribute our driving factors such as a robust compensation package, opportunities for growth, diverse employees, and a company mission with the purpose to improve lives.

Employees that have access to professional growth opportunities, scheduling flexibility, benefits, and job support are more likely to remain with their companies than those who don’t have these benefits.

2. new skill sets are in demand and the recruiting process is intentional

Hard skills like experience with specific software or technical know-how aren’t being replaced. But they are playing less of a role compared to soft skills. Adaptability was the name of the game during the pandemic. More employers realized that they can’t train for things like multitasking, innovative problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and a can-do attitude, but these skills proved crucial to a business’s survival in the face of uncertainty.

In response, the recruiting process focuses on hiring talent with a combination of hard skills and soft skills to reflect the current in-demand human needs that enable companies to thrive. At CQ fluency, we are intentional in who we hire and make sure the person is the right fit for our culture.

3. flexibility is a critical key to work-life balance

As the line between work and personal time becomes increasingly blurred, it’s more important than ever for workers to focus on mental health. HR leaders are in agreement on this; however, we must also acknowledge that the work still has to get done and some level of consistency and predictability is necessary.

Balancing the line between flexibility and productivity hasn’t been easy. I put a lot of effort into having open communication and making employees feel that they are heard and cared for. If employees feel that their physical, mental, or emotional health is off balance and at risk, they will feel frustrated and disappointed. That’s not only concerning for the employee, but also for the company at large.

I make myself available to provide support and guidance so that I can head off potential setbacks that will impact productivity and consistency. This often takes a bespoke approach, as not all employees need the same support as others. And while it’s a challenging path to navigate, it is very much worthwhile in showing your support for employees.

4. hybrid work has changed how we connect and create

Hybrid work has improved work-life balance, efficiency in work, and burnout alleviation. As a result, productivity has flourished. Hybrid work provides the flexibility for employees to connect and create in ways that are most effective for them.

Clearly, hybrid working has never been more important to today’s workforce; however, it is clear that the way we connect and create is much different than before. With more people in control of their own work environments, they’re also experimenting with their own choice of tools and technology to connect with others and complete their work.

Creating a standardized tech stack to facilitate hybrid work is key to keeping everyone on the same page and making hybrid work work for everyone.

5. staff experience starts from Day 1

I’m a firm believer that retention starts from Day 1 – having a strong onboarding experience makes an impact on the journey ahead. Throughout a staff member’s journey, we establish several touchpoints to communicate with employees, whether to gather feedback, provide insights, or check in to learn more about their experiences.

We’ve also adapted this initial experience to cater to remote and hybrid workers. Given our diverse workforce and remote staff around the world, we want to set a consistent tone early on for our entire workforce. It’s just another way we promote our culture and create consistent experiences that will set the tone for the future.

adapting to the future of work

There’s no doubt that COVID accelerated the future of work. It invited workplace change on a massive scale and created a competitive environment where only the most determined companies survive. We’re fortunate to thrive here at CQ fluency, but it hasn’t been without ongoing effort, creative thinking, and lots of listening.

I’d love to hear – what have you included in your HR survival strategy and how are you creating a futureproof workforce?

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