How to adapt to changes in HCM practices during COVID-19
Seemingly overnight, the global pandemic forced countless numbers of employers to create a work from home environment. Now, we see 42% of the U.S. labor force working from home on a full-time basis, according to Stanford economist Nicholas Bloom.
The speed at which the transition occurred, at different levels of success, allowed many employers to unveil unexpected benefits. At the same time, the unknown of managing productivity, attendance and performance has left other employers skeptical of long-term success. Below are tips to help employers navigate the challenges of managing a remote workforce.
Interviewing and hiring
Not all employees are well suited for remote work. Hiring with ability for self-management will require an evaluation to determine if applicants are:
- A cultural fit
- An effective communicator and collaborator
- Well-organized and able to manage time
- Self-disciplined and accountable
Behavioral testing tools are beneficial as part of the interviewing process and duration of employment. Several popular ones exist and are all well vetted behavioral assessment resources that employers should consider.
Worth remembering: all testing tools, whether behavioral assessment or skills based, are just part of the overall interview process, not the sole hiring decision. An organization should be using a combination of interviewing criteria including Human Resources, the hiring manager, and the team.
The right resources, tools, and accountability measures should be in place to promote a supportive relationship for both the remote worker and the managing supervisor.
A trusting management style will be required. This style is supported by hiring the right candidate and having accountability measures in place that are reflective of the duties of the position. Organizations will need to change their decades-long thinking that work is only getting done only if an employee is at their desk from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., relying instead on performance and productivity.
Productivity management software tools enable the organization to monitor performance by having the ability to track time, maintain IT security, and video conference for one-on-one supervisor discussions.
Promoting a work-life balance culture and keeping engaged with management and the team are top priorities for remote workers. Encouraging employees to use their allocated time off and unplugging are critical to maintaining productivity, reducing stress, and the holistic well being of employees. A Work and Wellbeing survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) found that the positive effects of returning from paid time off left employees with less stress , increased energy, more motivation, and a positive mood. These resulted in in an increase in productivity and quality of work.
The same APA study found that two-thirds of the employees who did not return to a supportive culture of work-life balance saw the positive effects of PTO quickly fade as compared to those who had a supported culture of wellbeing.
Leaders can build a supportive culture by:
- Using their own PTO and encouraging others to do so as well.
- Supporting the idea of “unplugging” from all work-related technology, using office messaging, and phone apps to block time out of the office.
- Reviewing workloads and cross-training so the important work has coverage when an individual is out.
- Allowing employees the opportunity to have appropriate time to transition smoothly back into daily routine.
It’s worth remembering: the holistic health of the employees leads to the holistic health of the organization.
Performance and termination of employment
Whether it be a deterioration in performance requiring a corrective discussion or a termination of employment, this can be one of the least pleasant responsibilities for any manager – and even more awkward when done remotely.
When possible, these types of crucial conversations should be done in person. If a worksite is not available, a neutral quiet location should be the next best spot. Worth noting, these types of conversations should never take place at an employee’s home or done over emails or text messaging. When remote travel is not possible, using a virtual conference call would be the next best option.
Managers should be prepared for the conversation with all supporting documentation, information regarding any final wage and benefit information, IT security, and return of company property.
Return of company property
To prevent problems downstream, employers should have a record of all assigned company property - signed off by the employee. A pre-planned strategy for the return of the property should be developed in advance.
It is a best practice for a company to cover related expenses for the return the property. In some instances, it may be appropriate for a neutral third party to intervene to retrieve the property. A neutral service can help defuse any negative situation and work towards the safety of all involved.