From losing partnerships with previous investors to being forced to shut down their businesses altogether, industries have been facing external threats due to the pandemic. Although these issues alone already seem detrimental to businesses, there are unfortunately more to consider beneath these industry-wide challenges. Apart from the apparent struggles in recuperating from financial difficulties, there is one component to this entire system that is characterized by equally pressing, yet unsung concerns — the people.
Employees have faced several challenges amidst the pandemic. Specifically, issues relating to employee benefits, employee stress, and workplace safety, among others, have been at the forefront of human resource management issues faced by companies in recent times. To illustrate, recent reports indicate that there has been a shift in preference for rewards systems. Compared to the main incentive of employees prior to the pandemic being mostly pay and financial compensation, the ongoing pandemic has made people more concerned of their own health and well-being. This has resulted in concerns and requests for programs that can help address challenges relating to the employees’ mental, emotional, and physical health that can potentially 1) reduce employee stress in the long run, and 2) reassure employees of health benefits and overall safety — especially if workers are made to work in the face-to face setup. In essence, these concerns in benefits, stress, and safety are reflective of what employees need help with most amidst these unprecedented times. Should management become unable to address these concerns, problems at the organizational level may eventually arise, such as a collective decrease in morale, and, as a result of such, reduced productivity.
It is in between these gaps wherein the role of HR professionals comes in. In response to these concerns, practitioners in the industry have been undertaking additional responsibilities that have been testing their existing expertise. They have been creating new practices to replace old ones in order to address HR concerns that have either been aggravated due to the pandemic, or have only been introduced in the current and unfamiliar setup. Evidently, the role HR professionals are now even more crucial, as they are put in a position that demands more trust, with employees now needing more reassurance that they will, simply put, be taken care of amidst the pressures and detriments of the pandemic.