The Expanding Role of HR in IT and Beyond

By Surender Jeet Raj

COVID-19 has altered our attitudes and beliefs as individuals and as businesses. Organizations globally are experiencing workforce disruption, with many still struggling to address the unknown variables and implications of the outbreak. The companies that have recovered quickly are the ones who focused on opportunities rather than challenges.
The Expanding Role of HR in IT and Beyond
Surender Jeet Raj

The IT perspective

Organizations across industries have been impacted by the crisis, the IT sector included. However, IT is expected to bounce back rapidly, as technology has become synonymous with business continuity. IT is already playing a huge role in enabling other sectors to normalize their operations with innovative solutions.
As the demand for automation and collaborative tools increases due to a rise in cloud and remote working, opportunities for IT companies, especially the product companies, will grow exponentially. IT companies should use this time to gear up to manage a surge in demand. IT-specific HR teams also must prepare to handle this scale-up of business.

How HR can help navigate the chaos

HR teams have risen to the challenge, helping organizations navigate massive workforce shifts — enabling remote operations, empowering employees to deliver uninterrupted services, and maintaining business continuity. By anticipating changes and preparing for the future, HR teams have proven their importance to overall business strategy.
As enterprises look to the future, HR will play a crucial role in helping businesses survive and thrive in the new normal by:

Creating open communication channels

Streamlining work processes and communication channels within teams and across functions is critical for enhancing employee productivity and connectivity. HR needs to ensure that business leaders are regularly interacting with employees to gauge their wellbeing and recognize their contributions. Communication must be designed to give employees an individualized experience. HR must communicate seamlessly throughout the organization while avoiding information overload.

Maintaining organizational values and ethos

HR is tasked with the job of ensuring compliance and maintaining a healthy workplace environment virtually, despite the uncertainty and new requirements. Workplace systems, procedures, and policies, including disciplinary action and sexual harassment, have been reviewed and updated by most organizations to address the complexities of remote working.

Enriching the virtual onboarding experience

To effectively onboard new employees, the HR team will have to invest in a digital infrastructure and offer increased support. HR will need to work in overdrive to instill the organization’s values and culture through remote orientation.

Focusing on employee wellness

Organizations are expanding their focus to include the holistic wellbeing of employees, giving importance to their emotional and mental health in addition to their physical health. HR must continue to provide support and guidance to their employees, prioritizing their safety and enabling them to work efficiently, during and after the pandemic.

Optimizing costs and expenses

Right now, cost efficiency is crucial for business sustainability. Subsequently, organizations are emphasizing reduced costs and building an effective management structure for the optimization of layers, the span of control and bands, career progression, and driving discipline on promotions policy.

Keeping employees engaged and motivated

HR needs to understand how to sustain productivity and employee engagement. Monetary incentives can be replaced by other forms of recognition to keep morale high in these stressful times. Some creative ways to do this include public acknowledgment and recognition of work, tokens of appreciation, and low-cost perks.

Encouraging learning and development

As knowledge gaps increase with the changing business requirements, reskilling and upskilling existing employees is a financially viable option to boost their careers. Learning and development will be the key to securing the future of both employees and the organization. Furthermore, focusing on emotional intelligence and building soft skills, in addition to e-learning and certifications, can be a driving factor for success.

Adopting new-age technologies

The modern HR must leverage technologies, like artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and virtual and augmented reality, to transform their processes and drive personalized engagement. The increased use of technology will help further the HR agenda to use analytics and data science to enhance organizational productivity.
As organizations reconsider their business models to meet evolving requirements, HR must step up to empower their current and prospective employees. It is imperative that HR teams replace rigid structures with flexibility, dynamic self-management, and continuous process improvement to create the workplace of the future.

(Surender Jeet Raj is Senior vice-president (Human resources operations) at Newgen Software. Views expressed in the article are of the author.)

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