Even in “regular” times, employee retention is no easy task, and company loyalty is a thing of the past for a large percentage of young people in the workplace. That’s not a knock on the younger generation, just something that has happened due to the fact that it’s easier than ever to look for new jobs, and for jobs to look for new employees. The importance of human resource management at this time can’t be overstated.

The LinkedIn’s and Indeed.coms of the world made the proverbial ceilings of human resource options blow right off, as remote work and international businesses bloomed in unison with the growth of internet communications. As if that wasn’t enough for HR professionals to deal with, along came the COVID-19 pandemic, making a majority of businesses adapt to stay-at-home orders and similar legislation. 

Here is a closer look at why and how important HR management is during times of public crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In Healthcare

The importance of Human Resources management is clear for anyone during a pandemic, however those HR personnel in healthcare have it exponentially more difficult, and most “businesses” are able to plan for spikes, where healthcare facilities can’t really do that, at least in relation to novel viruses like COVID-19. 

With COVID-19 came a surge of patients, which periodically would rise and fall, depending on a healthcare facility’s locale, and the extent of social distancing orders put in place there. In addition to having to methodically staff to prepare for the influx of patients, with a disease as contagious as COVID-19, HR teams also had to deal with frequent absences of their staff due to the virus. Not a fun juggling act by anyone’s standards. 

If there is any silver lining in the duration of the pandemic, it is that hospital HR teams have pretty much figured out staffing strategies, but they will soon have to work in reverse (and are certainly happy to do so) as some staff members may be vaccinated while others are not, and cases of the disease start to finally slim as the general public receives the vaccine as well. 

In Remote Business

For businesses forced to go remote due to COVID restrictions, HR teams did have to deal with a larger number of employees missing work due to illness, but not nearly to the frequency with which hospitals had to. Most of the HR activities for “regular” business involved training and other means of ensuring the employee pool was enabled to perform at high levels from their own homes. For many companies, no procedures had been put in place for remote work, so an uptick in training and procedures/protocols for remote work also fell in the laps of HR employees at a lot of businesses.  

Looking Forward

With all of the forced remote work, many companies did realize that they can save some money by limiting office needs, and can also increase the size of their potential employee pool if they are able to offer remote work. With that, many companies are expected to continue offering remote work after the pandemic, to those employees who feel better served in the home office. In addition to the things mentioned in the previous paragraph, it will also be very important for HR teams to put emphasis on inclusiveness and cultural awareness, as international business brings with it many new customs regarding respect and normal business workings. Everyone should be educated on cultural awareness, as it is morally right, but if your company is extending it’s hiring pool, those individuals in HR and management should be doubly educated on inclusiveness and diversity.

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Andrew Deen has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He is currently writing a book about scaling up business and his experience implementing lean methodology.