By Salina Williams, Senior Consultant
Feldman Daxon Partners recently held its fourth HR Think Tank to find out what matters most to HR leaders as businesses design their transition to reopening the economy. In attendance were HR leaders from organizations with both a Canadian and global presence, across most major sectors including finance, government, health care, not for profit, and mining representing thousands of employees across Canada. The key themes that emerged from this unique and rich discussion were:
- Employee health and safety
- Returning to work and new hybrid remote working models
- Financial/business concerns
Employee Health and Safety
- The importance of employees’ personal health and wellness were front and center in the discussion as many employees are experiencing burn-out and struggling with mental and physical health and work/life balance. Many companies are providing robust mental health support through professional resources such as CAMH and EAP providers.
- Many organizations are providing mental health training for managers in light of the struggles employees are confiding.
- Social distancing will be enforced. Screening measures at offices are also being implemented, including temperature checks and an app for employees to submit a declaration health form.
- Maintaining employee engagement is top of mind for many managers. They are conducting bi-weekly 1:1 check-ins and informal coffee chats and encouraging vacation time.
- The challenge of how to navigate customer sites safely remains for many organizations who require their employees to still make in-person visits to customers’ offices.
Remote Working, Hybrid Model
- Return to office plans are being developed however the target return date of September 2020 has changed to January 2021 for many organizations.
- Most offices are not currently set up for allowing all employees to return to the office. Key considerations for the new working model include:
- Employees prefer to split time between home and office (2/3 days)
- Returning to the office will be on a rotational basis
- HR prefers to implement return to office protocols on a voluntary basis, not wanting to add stress to employees by mandating a return to office date.
- HR believes employees need the flexibility due to personal reasons (childcare and whether schools will reopen; health concerns; commuting/transportation to work).
- The logistics of returning to offices in locations with large office buildings/employee populations means significant delays waiting for elevators due to social distancing. Employees are working productively at home.
- Employees have been given subsidies to purchase items to make working at home more comfortable and efficient (monitors, chairs, printers, etc.).
- Most organizations are demonstrating great flexibility with their employees’ work locations while a few organizations were challenged with managers still holding on to the belief that “face time” equals productivity.
- Organizations are implementing creative solutions to avoid terminations and layoffs, instead redeploying employees or reduced hours.
- Many organizations are scaling back deliverables and refocusing on core deliverables.
- Sales teams are being retrained on how to build a strong social media presence to grow their business.
- Many companies are rethinking their value proposition as they move to a mainly online environment.
- Non-profits are experiencing severe decline of revenue/donations.
Given the magnitude of the crisis that the pandemic has presented, HR has had to consider employees needs, health, and safety and grapple with the ever-changing management and enforcement of guidelines, policies, and programs.
HR professionals have proven their resiliency and their ability to change directions quickly, think through different risks/benefits, shining the light on themselves as significant leaders and business partners moving society through unprecedented time of change. Executive teams are now relying heavily on HR to lead through these unique times.
- On July 23, 2020