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How Are Today's Business Leaders And the HR Function Navigating Challenges? HR function have played a pivotal role in reassuring, motivating and thereby aiding the workforce to navigate the COVID-19 tide

By Prasad Rajappan

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The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented time that has affected organizations across spectrums. Nevertheless, it has underscored the strategic and pervasive nature of the HR function. With the revival of economic activity during the 'unlock' phases and restarting of workplaces, the top business leaders and the HR function have played a pivotal role in reassuring, motivating and thereby aiding the workforce to navigate the tide.

Here are top tips on how today's business leaders and the HR function are navigating challenges across the world.

Setting priorities

Adverse circumstances may jeopardize priorities and throw organizations off gear. The role of the top leadership and HR function has become imperative to align the organizations towards realistic goals and sift the relevant action items from the irrelevant ones. At this critical juncture, firms must be pragmatic and transparent with the stakeholders. Open-door communication and transparency will help organizations gain credibility and trust. It also aids organizations to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to navigate through complex challenges.

People matters and employee engagement

More and more organizations are realizing the value of employee-centricity. As a result, personnel matters have become among the top agenda of organizations worldwide. Amid shrinking employee loyalties, firms are willing to go the extra mile to retain a talented bunch of employees. Employee engagement has become a panacea for motivating the workforce, increasing productivity and achieving organizational goals. The widening scope of employee engagement implies that besides conventional measures such as salaries and bonuses, firms are now mulling innovative ways to engage with employees to make them feel valued and respected.

Staying agile

The COVID-19 crisis has underscored the significance of agility. The dynamics of the job market and the consumer market is changing rapidly; the workforce is evolving, and the world stands at the cusp of technological disruption. Agility will be the key to survival amid economic uncertainty. It implies the ever-encompassing role of the top leadership and the HR function to anticipate crisis well in advance and respond promptly.


A corollary to agility is resilience. The firms that embody agileness in their DNA will emerge as resilient and steer through the tide successfully. It implies that firms need to think-out-of- the-box and adapt to the crisis. This adaptation may be in the form of product diversification, overhauling of the business model, or revamping of the HR function. Such firms will not only survive; they will also stay ahead of the competition curve.

Flexible working

Organizations and the workforce are warming up to the idea of flexible working as a key to employee wellness and retention of talent. The proliferation of technologies and increased penetration of the Internet have also given a fillip to flexible working. As a result, remote working, staggered work-timings and flexible reporting are gaining prominence. Collaboration and communication have become vital tools for managing a geographically- dispersed workforce.

Data powered by technology

'Big Data' is revolutionizing the organizational landscape by helping them to make informed decisions across a gamut of operations, whether it is personnel, marketing or sales, or supply-chain. As the world shifts towards digital, more and more companies are leveraging social listening to make crucial business decisions and a roadmap for achieving organizational goals- this phenomenon can be termed as 'outcomation.'

Gearing for the post-pandemic world

The world is gearing towards a new normal, albeit with the redefining of some trends- technology and wellness being among them. The COVID-19 has proved to be useful learning for organizations to predict risks and respond to them promptly before it balloons to a crisis. Besides long-term goals, short-term and immediate term strategies will come into play. The HR function will become a formidable pillar to keep employee-centricity at the heart of organizations to enable them to survive and thrive.

Prasad Rajappan

CEO, Founder, ZingHR

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