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HR news and updates from the E.L Blue Team

Moves to remote and hybrid working arrangements have created a number of additional challenges for those responsible for HR management – real Hybrid Headaches.

Employee Wellness

Employers are obligated to provide a safe working environment for all employees.   Where a workplace is controlled by the employer, providing that environment with the correct tools, desks, chairs and office equipment, is a little easier.  Where employees choose to work from home – there are grey areas around the employers obligation to fund the proper home setup.  

Managers should ensure that employees working from home know what the proper home office set up should be.

Companies that require remote work should organise proper equipment.

Mental health has come to the fore during the last year or so.  With more people working from home, risk of burnout grew, a sense of isolation increased, and with little face to face interaction, mental health concerns were difficult to identify.  Recent snap lockdowns and vaccine uncertainty have added another layer. 

As hybrid work arrangements become standard, it will be more likely that mental wellbeing issues will not be identified.  Management will need to become more proactive in addressing this issue.

HR managers to arrange for staff and management to be educated on the indicators of someone at risk and provide process to escalate possible issues.

Communicate actively about mental wellbeing and activate programs to promote it.

Establish an Employee Assistance Program

Establish a policy of regular check-ins with employee wellbeing in mind.

Equality

Flexible and hybrid working arrangements open up a number of concerns around equality in the workplace.

It is accepted that office based workers will have greater access to company technology and resources, and are more likely to benefit from more up-to-date  information than a remote worker. 

Relationships are easier to develop in-person and it is easier to get to know people in a more ‘casual’ environment.  Building the trust, rapport, common knowledge and open communication that is necessary in team work, is more natural for those working in an office.  Lack of face time with senior management can often mean remote workers remain invisible and their work contributions not equally evaluated. 

Research has shown that women are more likely to opt for a working from home option.  This compounds existing gender inequality issues and also increases stress as women are handling domestic and work obligations in the home environment.   In addition, taking the option to work from home can be interpreted as indicating a lack of  commitment, while  offering less  opportunity to work with senior management and gain advancement.

Ensure remote workers have similar access to resources and information that office based employees, consider how information is passed through the organisation.

Develop processes for remote employees to build and consolidate relationships within their teams and the organisation.  (off-site events, regular in-office catchups etc.)

Establish review, appraisal and rewards / recognition systems to ensure the contribution of remote workers is noted.

Senior management to schedule times with remote work force to brief and gain feedback.

Capacity Building

Hybrid work arrangements have left companies with two major issues with regards to training and development. 

The first is developing the skills essential for workers and managers to work effectively and productively in a remote or hybrid working arrangement.  The different style of work demands different leadership and management skills, and for the employees a different set of skills – especially if they are sometimes at home and sometimes in the office.

Assess development needs of management team to manage a remote / hybrid workforce.  (Communication, Leadership, Coaching, Team Building, Culture Development, Wellbeing, Engagement)

Identify and establish appropriate training for managers and employees.

Secondly, it creates a challenge around how to deliver training to a hybrid work force that is effective and consistent.  

Utilise common training delivery method irrespective for remote or in-office workers.   (ie. all participants join via zoom, or all participate in face-to-face training) 

Consider live virtual training for content delivery.

Identify possible channels and encourage employees to undertake up-skilling and self-learning activities.  Creating on-demand training capabilities.

Review training materials to ensure it is engaging and effective.

Culture Building

A strong organisational culture ( a set of mind-sets and behaviours which reflects the business values) is often a major feature of great businesses.   An organisations culture is easier to experience in person and in a defined office or workplace.  With many businesses increasing their use of hybrid work, building a corporate culture is a little harder, as the ‘culture’ does not ‘rub-off’ so easily.

The human resource function has, in most cases, been tasked to help build and maintain the company culture and is now faced with maintaining a culture in a hybrid work environment.

Build team and company communication relationships.  (Regular video contacts, collaboration opportunities, team building activities.) To build affinity between team members.  

Establish good clear messaging behaviours.

Encourage senior leadership to recognise contribution of all employees. (no matter remote or in the office)

Focus efforts of management of promoting the intrinsic value of the businesses purpose.  Show the positive impact of the business or work on other people.

Create an environment that encourages collaboration.

Team leaders to create schedules for regular catch-ups and informal meetings.

Recruitment & Inductions

Businesses are more confident and recruitment activities are on the rise while COVID restrictions and border closures make remote recruitment and induction essential operating procedure. 

Remote recruiting is an essential capability for a management team,  so it is necessary to build a recruitment system and process that does not require face to face interviews to make the final decision.

Determine and promote compelling Employer Value Proposition.

Establish systematic recruitment process that facilitates prompt assessment and decision making – for remote and office based candidates. 

Ensure JD and selection criteria are standardised and interview templates are consistent.

Utilise video conferencing if in-person interviews not possible.

Onboarding and induction is possibly the most important aspect of the employee experience.  It sets the foundation for a new employees journey with the company, provides essential information and offers insight into the company culture and values.  A good induction should allow the new-starter to settle in while becoming productive quickly.

With remote or hybrid work environments, the induction process needs to standardised, and able to be delivered consistently to office based or remote employees.

Establish induction program that can be delivered consistently in-person or remotely.

Structure induction process to incrementally add information and knowledge.

Utilise multi-media and interactive modules to improve engagement.

Appoint a guide / buddy during the induction period.

For larger corporates with a distributed workforce, providing for a hybrid work arrangements is more about dealing with more staff not working in an office.  However, for smaller businesses, it requires a substantial up-grade in human resource management capabilities.