Hybrid Challenges for HR

Hybrid Challenges for HR

There is still no universally accepted hybrid work model, and the HR department is facing an entirely new set of challenges. No easy solution in sight as yet.

The pandemic has thrown up an entirely novel set of management challenges which have the potential to cause serious long-term HR disruptions.It is now common knowledge that the hybrid is the future of the workplace, and the emerging hybrid work model would require managers to strike a new balance. Managers are instrumental in moving strategic initiatives forward and executing them successfully. Hence, giving them the right tools and defining the right processes is now crucial for organisations eager to implement the new work model, and should be part of their strategic plan.

While the new hybrid approach demands thatteam managers learn, unlearn, or re-learn as necessary – it is the HR department that is facing an entirely new set of challenges. The situationassumes furthercomplications because there is still no universally accepted hybrid work model.It was expected that over the last couple of years, organisations should perfect the fundamentals of hybrid work. But the ground reality is that there’s yet nostandard set of best practices to follow– especially when it comes to policies and processes of hybrid work.

For Human Resource professionals, the challenge centres round four core issues derived from hybrid work. Let’s take a quick look.

Wider talent pool, altered recruiting strategy

The hybrid model allows remote workers to join office from anywhere they want. This means the recruiting teams can now have a wider reach when it comes to talent. For example, in the Indian context, the employers can tap the vast, underutilised remote talent pool from Tier-2 cities or semi-urban locations. This means, the HR recruiting strategy can now be based on wider options than it was previously feasible. Human resource professionals can do a quick scan of the workforce, pull data about their people’s gender, race, or even work style, determine where the company lacks, and use digital solutions and new technologies to find people to suit their needs. In the traditional, physical office set-up, the recruiting team would have to choose from candidates who are based locally. But now, now talent can be scouted and procured from beyond the boundaries of a city, state, or even country – and that too without relying on third-party talent vendors.

The good thing is, the HR team can now formulate specific recruiting strategies and actually go ahead without too many restrictions in terms of talent supply. For example, recruiting agendas like diversity or special-needs employees will get a big boost – no longer a mere compliance requirement on paper, it can actually be realised on the ground.

Ensuring fair and equal appraisals

While dealing with a hybrid workforce, managers may miss out on individual achievements, not appreciate good contributions in time, or ignore key areas of improvement as the employees are dispersed. When you’re at the office, it’s easy to know who’s going the extra mile when doing their job. In a hybrid setup, however, there’s lesser chance you’ll see people when they are at their best. There will always be employees who are never comfortable in calls or virtual meetings – but often they turn out to be the most introspective and innovative contributors in a team. Not acknowledging them could seriously impact motivation and perhaps trigger attrition because theseemployees feel ignored and disengaged. And yes, bias due to proximity is bound to happen in all human interactions!

On their part, HR professionals should seriously brainstorm on how to institutionalise a process oftracking the progress of remote workers – and that too on the exact standards as employees who attend office physically.

Setting KPIs is not the way forward as they do not capture a lot of intangible factors when it comes to individual contributions. This is one major issue that needs to be addressed for the hybrid to be a success. But there is no easy solution as yet.

Preserving organisational identity

Remote employees may often get out of sync with their organizational culture, company values, and long-term visions. In fact, there might no longer be any real connect among workers whom we only know from a screen. This is especially true for new joinees who have not shared that daily cup of coffee with the team. Even if the hybrid model will need occasional office visits, it can never be the same as the traditional everyday9 to 6 bonding. In the remote working model, people works alone – and when you get a workforce that minds their own business, they start to drift apart and becomes less interested in the vibes, ethos and values of the organisation. Company culture is nothing but the values, attitude and behaviours shared by employees. And these develop organically through personal interactions.

This also has direct bearing on attrition rates, because the more an employee identifies with a company’s culture, the less likely are the chances of an exit. Innovating how to cultivate organisational culture in the hybrid era looks to be one big askfor the HR fraternity right now.

Reaching out to the “human” within a “resource”

Whatever may be the logistics a company employs to go hybrid, the central idea is flexible working – which means less physical presence at office and more virtual interactions. As a result, employees would now have greater freedom in terms of scheduling the personal workday. In plain terms, they would mostly be working alone, remote and “anytime”. While this enables empowerment and independence, this “personalised” aspect of hybrid work, pulls the employees apart due to lack of a common routine. This, in turn, prevents them from having genuine connection with the organisation. Work become an impersonal “duty” without any involvement – to be executed and forgotten. There is no urge to share or appreciate theorganisational vision and goals. What’s left are just individual goals and interests.

This will perhaps be the greatest HR challenge in the coming years.It is the human touch that infuse “life” into an organisation. And that happens spontaneously through human interactions. No enforced engagement campaign scheduled periodically with much brouhaha can infuse that spirit. The companies that can address this better will be the winners in the hybrid era.

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