The HR department is one that is involved with the employee experience right from the beginning. They are the first to ‘get-to-know’ the employee, gauge his talent, and ascertain whether he will be culturally fit for the organization. With their chosen pool of people, they drive the workforce towards the company’s goals and instigate growth.
It may have been easier for HR to accomplish all these when their employees were under one roof. From a high-level perspective, it was certainly easier to monitor movement, organize activities and reach out to people within the defined space of their organization.
With the sudden advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, HR had to scramble to help employees adapt to the new way of working unless of course they already had the right structure in place and working remotely was the norm, which was not usually the case. In the Philippine setting, it was an abrupt and tough change to the corporate landscape, and HR took the brunt for it. For a country most renowned for its familial culture, ‘working together’ and ‘feeling at home’ with their peers was a big factor in employee productivity. HR agility was key for most organizations to thrive.
In the Philippines Best Workplaces 2021 Insights Report that is being published in May, studies show that HR teams had to think of creative and novel ways to roll out employee benefits that will not only motivate employees but will also answer to the challenges that they are facing amidst the pandemic. HR had to study and comply with changing labor practices adjust employee allowances and benefits, provide home office set-ups, engage third-party vendors for wellbeing programs and events that have suddenly turned virtual, and partner with HMOs and medical companies that are available for assistance remotely 24/7.
Now after a year into this global crisis, it seems that the remote work arrangement is here to stay. Some companies have seen the benefits of work-from-home, and some employees are now comfortable, if not preferable of this arrangement, as they see themselves in the company of family and loves ones, and not having to struggle with daily commute or the distractions found in the office. It goes without saying that HR had to adapt their roles as well.
Great Place to Work® attributes TRUST as the central component of a well-performing workforce, and HR plays a crucial role in creating this high-trust, high-performance environment. Because of the challenges brought about by Covid-19, people, in general, were caught up with personal, physical, emotional, and mental worries, so much so that it usually affected their work performance. Our recent studies show that HR of Great Workplaces™ exerted effort into relating with their employees, opening as many communication channels as possible through online tools such as Zoom and MS Teams, or chat apps like Slack to allow not just managers to speak to their people, but for colleagues to reach out, care for and help each other. Technology was an enabler, but HR initiated touchpoints that allowed the community to flourish.
Talent acquisition was also redefined, as HR pivoted to hiring using all virtual means possible, from interviews to background checks and even onboarding. Here they showed their prowess in making their organizations attractive to the talent pool, positioning their corporate brand and values such that the right people are willing to attach themselves to the organization and align with its values and goals. HR also had to re-assess their organization and let go of redundant roles, opening positions that required specific skill sets to adapt to the shift to the virtual platform. Their knowledge of trends and good judgment of character was essential for business and for the organization’s culture to remain intact.
It is more important to note that from a previous predominantly administrative role, HR has now taken on an important leadership role in the face of Covid-19. HR of Great Workplaces™ have steered their companies to remain robust, stable and resilient despite changes, and greatly influenced the performance of their workforce by promoting a high-trust relationship among ForAll™ leaders and authentic, talented employees. Although they are not often recognized, HR teams, should be lauded for leading the way in accelerating the shift to the digital stage, and for proving that organizations can remain one and aligned whether their members are working face-to-face or physically apart.
The outpouring of gratitude on this video for the Philippine HR community was overwhelming, with thousands of engagements in social media. It is such a privilege to honor the selfless acts of our HR professionals and leaders through this video.
We continue to press on. The challenges maybe far from over, but our hope is to encourage leaders and ignite their passion to always put their people first.
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Xyris loves to look at life through a broader lens. She is a certified bookworm, occasional writer, intrepid traveler and design enthusiast. She likes to create and breathe vibrancy to things. When not organizing events, she is a content contributor for GPTW PH and likewise handles corporate matters. A happy wife and a doting mom, she finds joy in unique experiences and believes that everyone has the potential for greatness.