How to overcome the HR challenges of working during a pandemic

Employees may be out of sight much of the time at the moment, but it’s essential that they know they’re not out of mind, especially from an HR perspective.

As we’ve touched on before, many staff will be feeling anxious about returning to work. This, combined with the completely new way of working, be it hybrid, on-site or remotely, creates a multitude of HR challenges.

So how can you ensure employees feel safe and looked after in a time when people, companies and realities have changed?

Staff spirit

Gauging employee morale when you can’t see most of them – and the ones you do see are often wearing masks – isn’t easy. And if you are able to pick up that they’re stressed, is this a result of living through the pandemic, challenges at home or is it their job that’s making them unhappy or unmotivated?

To find out what the spirit of your staff is, you could conduct a survey, either through an app, by email or on paper. Ask employees to rate their morale and engagement compared to how they felt before the pandemic and what they think the company could do to help improve the situation.

Promote your health benefits

Employees’ health, both mental and physical is a huge concern, particularly for staff members who are working remotely, as you can’t spot any visible symptoms.

To combat this, make sure your organisation offers outlets to relieve stress and mental health issues – for example, counselling, yoga, meditation, exercise, and work/life balance policies.

Some employees may not know how to access health benefits remotely so it’s important to really promote your offers through several communication channels. Make sure everyone fully understands your HR policies and plans and encourage them to feedback on their experiences.

Harmonious workplace

Monitoring staff behaviour is another challenge that increases when you don’t see employees every day. You miss out on seeing how they work and interact with each other. When email is the primary form of contact, it’s easy to misinterpret the message that’s being delivered, which can lead to bad feeling amongst colleagues.

To ensure staff are working well together, encourage front-line managers to meet – in-person or virtually – with employees regularly. Any misunderstandings or tensions between colleagues can be aired and sorted out, and it’s an ideal opportunity to check on each employee’s general wellbeing.

‘Yes, but…’

While some employees have adapted well to remote working, others have struggled with family demands and inadequate resources for working from home.

To find out who’s struggling and needs help, ask all employees how they’re finding the new way of working and really listen to their response. If their answer is: ‘Yes, but…’, then you need to ask what you can do to help with the ‘but’ part of their answer. Look for a solution, rather than accepting their (probably polite) yes.

Recruiting new employees

Recruitment stopped, or slowed, in most industries when the pandemic hit. As normal work life resumes, albeit in different formats, many companies are looking to recruit new talent.

The question is, how do you do this when you’re having to interview candidates virtually or through a mask in person?

The most important thing is to go back to basics and focus on the skills required for the job and the experience you’d like the interviewee to have. Make sure you relay the company’s current position on remote/hybrid/on-site working and how you envisage this evolving in the future.

The advantage of remote working is that it widens the talent pool. The ideal person for the job might not have been able to apply before because they lived too far away. This no longer needs to be a deterrent.

Salesforce and

More than a year after launching for post-pandemic planning, Salesforce has now moved into the HR and “employee experience” market –  aiming to help businesses move to new models of hybrid work. To address employee well-being, Salesforce is introducing wellness checks into employee workflows. Based on how the employee responds to questions, it offers relevant content, such as tips on reducing stress.

Cognition24 can help transform the working lives of your people, implementing and optimising technology that will allow them to work more flexibly. Our holistic approach always focused the people, process and the technology. 

Contact us today and find out how our solutions can help you take the lead in fostering mental wellbeing in the workplace.