COVID-19 and HR Management: Challenges and Opportunities

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COVID-19 and HR Management: Challenges and Opportunities

The COVID-19 pandemic has shattered organisations, creating a complex and challenging environment for managers and human resource management (HRM) practitioners. Now their responsibility is to devise creative solutions to ensure the survival of their businesses and assist their employees in dealing with this unprecedented crisis. There are a few studies on the impact of the crisis on HRM. This new pandemic provides managers and HRM practitioners an insight that helps them to explore possible future organisational paths that may evolve as a result of these opportunities.

COVID-19 is a global health emergency that has shaken the entire world, causing widespread uncertainty. It has had a significant impact on economies, cultures, employees, and businesses. This crisis began in the Chinese city of Wuhan, which had an epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in December 2019, which expanded quickly, prompting the World Health Organization to declare it a worldwide pandemic on March 11, 2020.  

Companies had begun reopening in the midst of the ongoing pandemic under extraordinary rules and a new functioning ethos (e.g., physical distancing in the workplace) that no one could predict when it would end. As a result, this pandemic has created a complex and challenging environment for managers and human resource management (HRM) practitioners who needed to come up with creative solutions to keep their businesses afloat while also assisting their employees in coping with the challenges of this unprecedented situation following the third wave.

In this context, there have been a few studies on the impact of COVID-19 on HRM, its challenges, and potential opportunities for HRM in organisations, despite the fact that managers and HRM practitioners require relevant information to help them navigate this crisis effectively and efficiently, support their employees, and keep their company afloat. In fact, most businesses are not well equipped to deal with crises when they arise.

Challenges and Ramifications
HRM is concerned with how people are hired, managed, and developed in businesses and COVID-19 has had a considerable impact on it, posing significant issues for managers and HRM practitioners. There are six main challenges HR faces in a Post COVID World.

1.Not Reverting to Old Habits: As people return to work, it may be tempting to want to put the events of the previous years behind them and reignite the culture and atmosphere that existed before the pandemic. But the fact is that people change over the course of a year. People now see the workplace and their work life in a different light, from their perceptions to their wants, requirements, and expectations.

2.Maintaining flexibility: To remain desirable, businesses must remain adaptable and prepare to engage employees in discussions about workplace regulations and culture. Flexibility is no longer just a gimmick used by businesses to entice millennial workers under the pretext of work-life balance; it's a requirement and an expectation for workers of all ages and backgrounds.

3.The Skills Evolution: The pandemic has changed the way many businesses operate while also putting many individuals out of jobs. Many people do not want to return, and many of the firms demand people with different talents than they had only a few years ago. Companies must now assist both internal and external workforce development as a result of the evolution of needed skills.

4.Re-considering Recruitment Processes:  Companies have to rethink the recruitment process for a variety of reasons, including the unbundling of work from geographic locations and changing the way we interview, vet, and screen people. The first is adapting to the era of remote work, which allows candidates to interview remotely in a smooth and transparent process that reflects the company's culture and values. The second step is to make a stronger push for diversity.

5.Maintaining a Wellness Focus: Employers have made wellness, particularly mental health, a top emphasis. As we progressively transition into a post-pandemic environment, it will be critical to keep an eye on employee wellness as they adjust to yet another change. For many employees, there is still a lot of worry about their loved ones' health, their job security in the future, and high levels of general concern about world events.

6.Getting Down to Business on DEI:  Diversity, equity, and inclusion are three topics that businesses cannot afford to get wrong. People, especially the younger generations, have come to demand results. There is a sense that the time has come to address systemic issues that perpetuate cycles of discrimination and inequity, and one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals this year and in the years ahead will be ensuring that their company's practices put them on the right side of history this time.

COVID-19 and Human Resource Management Strategy
The vertical relationship between HRM functions and organisational strategy, as well as the horizontal consistency between HRM functions, are referred to as strategic HRM. Its main goal is to make the best use of human resources in order to meet the organisation's strategic goals. Strategic agility is essential to ensure the achievement of corporate goals in a moment of crisis. Organisations must be able to plan and allocate their resources, as well as coordinate the necessary mechanisms and make good use of their resources and knowledge. Managers and HRM practitioners may find it difficult to carry out strategic planning or to put the first one into action. However, it has been speculated that the world will return to normalcy after the third wave. Yet, HR managers and practitioners ought to be ready for any catastrophic consequences that may arise in the future too.

COVID-19 has caused significant obstacles for managers and HRM practitioners, but it has also opened the door to prospects worth knowing about and comprehending, which can aid businesses in their future activities. Indeed, according to Demirkaya and Aydn, a crisis can present organisations with unforeseen chances. COVID-19 has pushed organisations to be more creative and innovative, as well as encourage talks about the future of work. It has hastened the disintegration of HRM as well as the implementation of future scenarios. Furthermore, it has compelled firms to reconsider their HRM strategies and to move beyond traditional human resource management models by placing new information technology as a critical partner in their business's survival and long-term viability.

COVID-19 has provided firms with the chance to increase employee autonomy, improve digital competences, and widen their perspective on competency development. Furthermore, the pandemic has positioned new technology as an important strategic partner for businesses. As a result of the epidemic, new technology has emerged as a strategic partner for businesses. It has aided in the survival of enterprises and the narrowing of the gap between employees and their bosses while assuring their safety. It has aided the shift from traditional face-to-face socialisation methods to virtual ones by encouraging managers and HRM practitioners to be more creative. COVID-19 may expedite the adoption of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) in areas with high levels of human interaction, such as medical care and personal care, (e.g., gyms and hair salons) according to Lund, an HR scholar.

Identifying the COVID-19 opportunities can assist HRM practitioners in developing appropriate HRM interventions and future actions. Nonetheless, it's crucial to remember that institutions all across the world are still dealing with the pandemic's pervasive effects, which don't appear to be going away anytime soon. Increasing organisational resilience is unquestionably necessary. By redefining the new trends in HRM practices, firms must create new foundations. In fact, businesses must re-evaluate their context, compare the new HRM trends caused by this unforeseen catastrophe, and assess their applicability after almost more than two years of new functioning based primarily on remote work.

Organisations should allow employees to arrange a flexible presence in the office to keep them linked to their jobs, while also assuring the presence of effective health and safety measures. Because the lines between personal and professional life are blurring, managers should communicate and discuss the organisation's performance expectations with its personnel. In this regard, managers, assisted by HRM practitioners, should examine and realign the performance management system in order to adapt the performance objectives to the changing reality of businesses and workers.

If history has taught us anything, it is that we will survive this virus, just as we did the plague, cholera, yellow fever, and influenza in the past, but at a significant cost. Each time we start a new project, disease introduces a new challenge and a new environment. It's a tragedy, but it's also an opportunity for change.

Following the World Health Organization's declaration of novel coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, the major global immunisation partners developed a global COVID-19 vaccination strategy, led by WHO's Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Vaccines Pillar (COVAX).

By focusing immunisation efforts on reducing death, hospitalisation, and severe diseases, the strategy defined two related goals: to safeguard individual and public health and to reduce societal and economic burden. COVAX intended to deliver vaccine supplies fairly and equitably by deploying two billion doses to vaccinate at least 20% of each country's population by the end of 2021, building on the strategy and expecting initial supply challenges was a big move of WHO and invention of various vaccines against COVID-19 proved that we, human beings, have been able to win the game and will have a normal life in the coming future.

Last but not the least, taking everything into account, HR management has gone through a very tough time. However, the pandemic has taught a big lesson to HR managers as to how to cope up with such a crisis. The pandemic has, doubtlessly, added a new paradigm in the field of HR management.

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