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HR tips from industry experts.

How the Workplace Has Changed in the Era of COVID-19

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
by Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP on December 21, 2021

COVID-19 reshaped the U.S. job market, forever impacting how employees work. Organizations have been forced to navigate the evolving landscape and grapple with changes affecting their workforce and everyday operations. Many things will not go back to “normal” and organizations have realized that they cannot go back to the ways they worked before.

Take a look at some of the top changes.

1. Reshaping Recruiting

The coronavirus pandemic caused a shift in the work landscape, resulting in the rise of virtual recruiting. It wasn’t uncommon for companies to utilize virtual assessments before the pandemic, but now, many organizations have adopted a beginning end-to-end virtual recruitment process.

Beyond recruiting is the shift to fully remote work. The candidate pool has become much more extensive because geographical boundaries no longer limit organizations that are open to hiring remote workers. This can work for or against companies. Employers now have access to a wider range of top talent. However, so do other organizations, which forces companies to think strategically about their recruitment process to attract high-quality, competitive candidates.

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Current market dynamics make recruiting more challenging and a positive and efficient candidate experience is critical. Consider long-term onboarding with regular check-ins at 30 days, 60 days, 90 days. You may ask about vaccination status with applicants, but you should have this requirement on the job posting along with the EEO statement of reasonable accommodation. Workers, especially younger workers, look at the culture and ethics of an organization as they look to join, so showcase your culture in addition to offering competitive pay and benefits.

Recent social movements have also left a lasting impact on recruiting. Many organizations have taken steps to focus on equity and inclusion, starting with attracting and hiring diverse candidates. The EEOC recently announced an increased focus on hiring technology to see that it is used fairly and consistent with federal equal employment opportunity laws. Conducting structured interviews gives each candidate the same chance to provide information and to be evaluated consistently. Look at your hiring process and see where and why candidates drop out. Review your data and grow your talent pipelines for access to the largest talent pool.

2. Retaining Top Talent

There are a few factors that explain the Great Resignation but one primary driving factor – workers are looking for flexible work arrangements.

Business strategy must change with the evolving employer/employee relationship. While retaining top talent has always been a priority, keeping employees satisfied is more important than ever before because employment options are bountiful. If an employee feels underappreciated, dissatisfied, or mistreated, they’re likely to look for another job that better suits them. The availability of remote roles now gives workers a wider range of opportunities that they may not have had before the pandemic.

Employees do not stay at companies because of everyday perks. Provide flexibility where you can. Show appreciation and offer opportunities for employees to grow and develop in the workplace. Focus on leadership development and succession planning to help keep top talent.

It’s in a company’s best interest to retain its top employees because the effects of turnover and lost productivity can be costly. Click here for additional tips on retaining top talent.

3. Rethinking Wellnesswomen working holds her head

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the importance of mental health to light. Suddenly, people began facing uncertainty from all angles – job security, financial challenges, their physical wellbeing, as well as the health of their loved ones. The array of stressors contributed to increased levels of anxiety and depression among the public, forcing employers to listen to their employees and begin expanding their support efforts. Such support may include flexible or adjustable work hours, remote or hybrid work options, enhanced sick leave, mental telehealth coverage, financial and childcare assistance.

In addition to robust benefit offerings and resources, guarding against burnout should be part of an employer’s wellness game plan. Be mindful of workloads and the working environment. Make it a positive workplace where employees feel good about coming to work and will give their best effort.

4. Remote Work

The sudden government shut down in early 2020 forced many businesses to send their workers home and adjust to remote operations. Employers had to handle situations, both good and bad, about telecommuting, productivity, and communication.

Employers have had to rethink where work can be done and how it gets done. Employees want continued flexibility. Which roles require an onsite presence and which roles can be performed remotely? Is hybrid work a good option? Companies are deciding how to proceed for the future.

With the rise of remote work, managers aren’t able to keep a physical eye on their workers. Employers are using more technology to track and monitor their employees’ work and progress, as well as the engagement of remote workers. Such technology may be used for clocking in and out, monitoring employee emails or internal communications and chat, and tracking work computer usage.

5. Reworking Policies

The pandemic drove significant change in company policies and practices. Employers have had to revise many existing policies or formulate brand new policies. Topics include furlough, remote work, mask-wearing, covid quarantine, covid testing, time off, FFCRA, new state and local leave laws, vaccination, and hybrid work. Evolving state marijuana legislation has had an impact on drug testing and background check policies and procedures. Additionally, by now employers should have a clear process to handle accommodation requests.

A well-crafted policy will assist employees in knowing what is expected of them, help to ensure each person is treated equitably, as well as aid in preventing or managing problems.

6. Risk Management

Employers have had to manage business operations through all the disruptions of 2020 and 2021. The pandemic required employers to adapt on the fly in responding to the crisis and to navigate an accelerated pace of change in the business environment. As companies grapple with the post-pandemic workplace, agility will continue to be fundamental for businesses that want to thrive, not just survive.

It is vital to stay abreast of new and shifting employment law regulations. Evolving privacy laws, anti-discrimination laws, and vaccine mandates are just a few of the trending affairs. With increasing lawsuits, it is prudent to look ahead to potential compliance pitfalls and determine how you can reduce your risk.

Failure to address risks can have catastrophic results leading to high turnover, damage to your brand, trouble with compliance, and more. A proactive approach to risk management can offer big rewards to a business. A PEO can help with strategies that work.

Click here to learn how FrankCrum can assist you.

 

Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tonya Fletcher SPHR, SHRM-SCP

Tonya is the Labor Compliance Manager at FrankCrum. In this role, she leads the FrankAdvice team of HR consultants and manages the delivery and content of best practice HR information to client owners and managers. When she’s not at work, Tonya enjoys international travel.

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