By Salina Williams, Senior Consultant
Feldman Daxon’s most recent HR Think Tank hosted key HR professionals from major organizations across a variety of sectors, with a focus on exploring strategies for maintaining COVID-19 compliance and the subsequent evolving shift in culture. The group represented over 500,000 employees across Canada, and the following themes were identified:
- The changing role of the office:
- Safety of employees remains the number one concern for HR professionals as phase three presents new workplace options
- Return to office initiatives are trending as “soft openings.” There are a wide range of approaches to the timing of these soft openings, with some organizations starting in now while others are targeting March or April 2021.
- On-boarding programs are being designed and implemented to support existing employees as they start their “soft” return to the office.
- Customized employee surveys are being used to better understand issues and concerns regarding return strategies. Some surveys revealed as little as 3% of employees wanted to return to the office.
- The most common employee concerns are the safety of public transit, schools reopening, childcare, health and safety protocols, pedestrian traffic, and eldercare for parents while some employees are challenged by the social isolation of working remotely.
- Several companies are positioning returning to the office as voluntary
- Some companies have created hotelling and reservation systems for staff to use office space to minimize pedestrian traffic and promote safe practices.
- Contingency plans are being created for employees who don’t want to return to office. Workplace flex programs are being offered with HR professionals and managers assessing on a case-by-case scenario.
2. Cultural shifts:
- Unexpected levels of operational success in moving from office based to remote environments are causing organizations to focus on the correct balance of permanent work from home strategies post COVID-19.
- The need for businesses to operate in an agile fashion was highlighted during the pandemic shift. The value of speed and implementation outweighed the value of perfection during this time.
- HR leaders are observing employees working more hours as the lines between living and working are blurred. Some noted an increase in productivity but a decrease in creativity. In other instances, working remotely has demonstrated greater productivity and innovation and a decrease in wait times.
- “9 to 5” is becoming an outdated approach as employees are working within flexible formats at varying times or days; working weekends to take personal time during the week
- Many managers are randomly reaching out to individuals to check in and strengthen connection.
- Leaders are encouraged to act as role models by taking breaks in the workday, asking staff questions, and engaging in light conversation across the organization.
HR leaders have had to pivot quickly, redesign how work gets done, reimagine the role of offices, and create safe, productive working strategies. Celebrated author Paul Coelho notes “You change the world by your example not your opinion.” With this in mind, HR leaders are in fact changing the world and possibly how we will continue to work and live in the future.
- On September 11, 2020