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 because 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 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 HR personnel in healthcare have it exponentially more difficult, and most “businesses” can plan for spikes, whereas healthcare facilities can’t do that, at least about 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

Due to COVID restrictions, many businesses went remote, increasing HR challenges with absenteeism, though less so than hospitals. HR primarily focused on training to ensure high performance from home. Many companies lacked remote work protocols, leading to a surge in training and new procedures for HR teams.

Looking Forward

With the shift to forced remote work, many companies have realized cost savings by reducing office space. They also expand their potential employee pool by offering remote opportunities. Consequently, many plans to continue remote work post-pandemic for employees who prefer it. Furthermore, HR teams must focus on inclusiveness and cultural awareness due to diverse international customs. Education on cultural nuances is morally right and essential, especially for HR and management. As companies broaden their hiring scope, understanding inclusiveness and diversity becomes even more critical.

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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.