HR Departments are facing an array of new challenges since the transition to a post-pandemic working environment.
Human resources firms face the same position filling challenges as other employers: staffing turnover, employee recruiting and retention, finding skilled candidates who are the right fit and maintaining the business culture.
“We have about 40 regular employees in our company, and it’s been a 100% struggle for us, as [it has been] with what other firms are experiencing,” said Tina Hamilton, CEO at myHR Partner Inc., in Bethlehem and offices nationwide. The company provides human resources services to firms that don’t have their own HR departments. She said that since the pandemic, myHR Partner hires up to 100% remote employee positions.
“It was one of the biggest pushes to help us find people easier,” Hamilton said of pivoting the company’s hiring practices and flexible offerings. “The biggest demand is that people want to work remote [positions]. A significant percentage [of workers] have left, or plan to leave their jobs, because they could not return to a remote or hybrid situation,” she explained.
According to an Entrepreneur.com report, companies that are demanding employees return to the office full time “could backfire” and has led to “more worker power and unionization.” Firms with a flexible policy appear poised to do better at attracting and retaining quality talent. “We’ve been fortunate not to have a lot of turnover and have not had to make an internal hire since Covid began,” said Scott Fiore, president of TriStarr Staffing in Manheim Township, Lancaster County.
Creating and maintaining a family friendly, family first culture allowed Fiore’s team to pivot “and reinvent ourselves as a remote workforce, because we had to” during the pandemic’s beginning in 2020, he said. Listening to employees and being aware of different work arrangements is part of TriStarr’s employment mission.
“After the shutdowns we maintained a hybrid work environment. What we have not done – and what I don’t intend to do – is put hard restrictions on that,” he said. There’s about a 50/50 split between employees working most of the time in the office and those who work remotely. “We set reasonable goals, so people know what they have to do to get [their jobs] done, and we have no secrets and no surprises,” Fiore said. Having technology in place prior to the coronavirus pandemic start in March 2020, allowed TriStarr to quickly shift to working remotely during government mandated shutdowns. “I think part of that [success] is our [company] culture,” he said.
While technology was available before the pandemic a widespread work from home mentality among business leaders and companies was not.
Fiore said Covid was a tipping point for many companies to allow more hybrid and remote work options While he acknowledged firms – even those with strong leadership and flexible working policies – can also have employee turnover, it seems those offering flexible options tend to fare better than those with rigid in office attendance requirements.
“I think the 8 to 5 workday is entrenched, and there is a lot of tension there,” among business leaders and managers, Fiore said. Firms that can emphasize the end results expected from employees – rather than logging hours at a desk – will have a better shot at recruiting and keeping quality talent.
“During Covid established businesses saw it [working remotely] could work. They were forced to accept that reality,” he said.
From on boarding and paperwork completion to simple recruiting tasks technology and automation can be used to help HR firms streamline the process to fill client positions as well as make their own internal hires. Fiore expects automation of routine and repetitive tasks across more business industries and sectors will be the next big change in many workplace environments – including for human resources and staffing firms. “The more you can automate more simple repetitive tasks, the more you can focus your human resources on the more difficult and complex tasks in the business,” he said.
Candidate nurturing – like using chat bots for recruiting, application, and screening tasks, as well as automated email and text messaging are all part of the future, according to Fiore. “You can set up chat bots to do most of the pre and screening process for job candidates, as well as vetting them for job positions,” he said. Using artificial intelligence and incorporating automation into office tasks can “compress the job search from weeks down to hours,” Fiore explained. “And those that don’t, won’t be able to compete as quickly for the best talent,” he said.
According to Fiore, firms may be missing out on hiring the best candidates for their companies. “One of the biggest challenges we see with clients is they take too long to make hiring decisions. The quicker you can come to a hiring decision, the more likely they’ll get the right talent,” Fiore said. Karen
A. Young, founder and president of HR Resolutions, LLC, in Susquehanna Township, Dauphin County said some human resources firms experience a “revolving door” of talent, because interviewers may be more concerned about selling the work environment and don’t clearly share the job’s realities.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 5.9 million “separations” which includes employees who quit their jobs, employee layoffs and employee “discharges” as of December 2022. Young said many in the human resources sector are overworked “people pleasers” often neglecting self-care and putting their client’s needs ahead of their own, until they are nearing –or facing – job burnout. The rule of thumb for best management is one human resources employee for every 100 employees in a company, according to Young. “We’re busy taking care of other people [such as] resolving a benefits issue [for one client] or making sure another gets the leave they’re entitled to all while continuing to recruit in a bad market,” she said. “Nobody thinks about HR people until they’re gone,” Young said.
QUESTION 1 [50 MARKS]
Using the case study as a starting point, conduct a mini research study in which you make use of:
• Information from your organisation (or one you are familiar with); or
• Online research; or
• Interviews; or
• Discussions with team members in your organisation; or
• An interview with a strategic consultant at your company.
Your study should critically reflect on how a leader may employ SHRM to deal with the following in a post-pandemic corporate environment:
a. Achieving team goals by constructing an HR planning process that feeds into the overall strategy of the organisation. (10 marks)
b. Demonstrating the importance of human resource information systems by building team enthusiasm and engagement. (10 marks)
c. Integrating organisational processes by leading virtual teams and contractors with a mixed- methods approach. (15 marks)
d. Integrating structure and culture in strategic human resource planning by helping team members manage their time in a hybrid working environment. (10 marks)
e. Managing and making the right hiring (recruitment and selection) decisions. These decisions may consider, but are not limited to, the use of artificial intelligence and a prospective employee’s desire to work remotely. (5 marks)
QUESTION 2 [24 MARKS]
According to McKinsey and Co. (2021), there are two ways in which businesses have historically controlled cost and mitigated uncertainty during recessions. These are by adopting automation and redesigning work processes, which reduce the share of jobs involving mainly routine tasks. In a global survey of 800 senior executives in July 2020, two-thirds said they were stepping up investment in automation and AI either somewhat or significantly. Production figures for robotics in China exceeded pre-pandemic levels by June 2020.
Many companies deployed automation and AI in warehouses, grocery stores, call centres, and manufacturing plants to reduce workplace density and cope with surges in demand. The common feature of these automation use cases is their correlation with high scores on physical proximity, and research finds the work arenas with high levels of human interaction are likely to see the greatest acceleration in adoption of automation and AI.
This has meant that the corporate environment has therefore had to adapt to ever-evolving technological developments that have also tested leadership’s style, skills, and use of empathy or emotional intelligence as they are responding to business environmental changes, competition, changing consumer preferences, and innovations in product and service offerings. Through these changes, leaders face new challenges and thus need to have difficult conversations.
McKinsey & Company. (2021, February 18). The future of work after Covid-19.
• Using the above discussion as a starting point, critically evaluate the impact of two leadership theories, and their related traits, that you consider appropriate, to navigating through the current AI-based environment described.
• Your answer should also critically evaluate the role played by emotional and spiritual intelligence in strategic human resource management in mitigating the popularity and growth of AI, as well as the inconsequential and consequential repercussions that AI may have on SHRM.
QUESTION 3 [26 MARKS]
Mercer India’s senior principal, Mansee Singhal, puts it like this: “The whole concept around work, workforce, and workplace has undergone a significant amount of change, and that has impacted the employee perception of what the employer value proposition is going to look like.”
As organisations’ are forced to polish their pitches for why employees should choose them. Additionally, employees want to make a meaningful social impact, and they will do this earlier in their lives instead of waiting for retirement. People will actively seek opportunities to tie the impact and value of their work to their mission, purpose and passions. Viewing others’ posts on social media will motivate them to get more involved and contribute to social innovation and equitability. Smart companies will make themselves more attractive not solely by paying higher salaries, but also by offering employees an opportunity to make a meaningful impact. Employers are therefore encouraged to build a message that resonates and drives engagement by creating initiatives for employees to come forward with personal stories, experiences, and successes in various social causes.
The extract above suggests that corporate ethics and responsibility is not just a fashionable trend but a business imperative. As a human resources strategist, appraise the following aspects for an organisation of your choice and provide justified recommendations for it to be future-fit.
Using the above extract as a starting point consider:
a. Who should lead the people and environmental strategy? (9 marks)
b. What should an envisaged workforce of the future look like in your chosen organisation? (8 marks)
c. What organisational challenges are likely to be encountered on the road to the envisaged workforce of the future? (9 marks)
Answers to Above Questions on SHRM
Answer 1: Strategic human resource management has a significant role to play especially during the post pandemic corporate environment. A leader can achieve a proper balance between the strategic goals and the HR planning process by way of evaluating the needs of an organisation, collaborating with the HR professional, aligning HR planning with that of the strategy of the organisation, undergoing scenario planning, future employee development, and continuous monitoring and evaluation. These strategies would help a human resource manager in properly managing the post pandemic corporate environment in an efficient way.
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