Due to Covid19, No Self Motivation and Productivity is all Time Low

#Due to Covid19, No Self Motivation and Productivity is all Time Low  

Big Challenge for Human Resources and Management     

Need to find out some Good Ways

Jayani Varghese


It’s a big challenge for HR to formulate new methods to kill low productivity and inculcate self-motivation. Some of good ways to overcome this is as mentioned below:

Covid-19 has allowed HR to demonstrate the importance of HR strategies for mitigating people's risk

Crisis management and business continuity planning remain the top challenges faced by HR during the Covid-19 outbreak.  While working from home may now be the new normal, the speed at which individuals and organizations have adapted to this change is simply commendable. 

What are the challenges being faced by HR due to Covid-19? 

The challenges that HR faces vary with their company’s location, sector, and size, but most organisations will have to tighten their belts. Companies are seeking alternate corporate strategies, such as using technology to support work-from-home or reviewing costs to stretch the budget. Crisis management and business continuity planning remain the top challenges faced by HR during the Covid-19 outbreak. The list of priorities also includes managing flexible work arrangements, employee communications to increase awareness, addressing employee concerns on workplace policies, implementing preventive measures, and reviewing current welfare policies.

How the lockdown has impacted HR as a whole?

The coronavirus outbreak has allowed HR to effectively demonstrate the importance of HR strategies for mitigating people's risk. During the entire lockdown, the role of HR has been very crucial in how they had been handling the ongoing crisis and ensuring smooth operations of their organisations. Today, HR is no longer working behind closed doors and has become a crucial part of driving the organisation’s success. During these unprecedented times, the role of HR leaders has become all the more important and they are expected to respond quickly and comprehensively, considering immediate, short-term, and long-term consequences.

Do you think WFH will be the new normal post-Covid-19? What kind of strategies or approaches needs to be adopted by companies to allow their employees to work remotely?

While working from home may now be the new normal, the speed at which individuals and organisations have adapted to this change is simply commendable. Not only do they both – employees and organisations – have to find ways of making sure business continues with the least disruption, they also have to found a way to work safely and securely. Remote working can make a better work-life balance by allowing people to live further from their workplaces, and it can come in handy during periods of extreme times when staff can stay safe at home and work.

Earlier work-from-home was seen as an ‘excuse for not working’ by most people but the Covid-19 pandemic has drastically changed this perception of companies and now organisations are willing to experiment with the idea for a few more months even after the lockdown ends.

Building trust with employees is one of the major challenges that organisations face. WFH is building mutual trust between companies and their employees. You need to be sure that your employees will continue to maintain standards, meet deadlines, and practice open communication. Similarly, maintaining a sense of teamwork during WFH can be a challenge since employees may experience feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety, and disconnection from the team. This is amongst the biggest risks in maintaining an efficient remote workforce. To ensure the wellbeing of your remote workers, it is important to maintain a sense of teamwork within the company.

Do you think WFH is as productive for employees and companies, as compared to employees working at their workstations? 

Having the ability to work from home has become the new norm across many industries and roles given the coronavirus outbreak. Over 80% of workers feel they are equally, or even more productive, when working from home. People feel they can be more productive at home because they don’t have to deal with daily office distractions and co-worker interruptions. The shift towards this trend of productive remote working is just beginning.

Is there any impact that you have seen on the productivity side after the lockdown?

Our productivity has gone up as on the day one of work from home, our sales went up by 20%. Moreover, all our managers and team leads have reported that the productivity of their team members during the WFH has increased tremendously after solving the way of working through technology. We planned our BCP well in advance, which helped to have those controls and helped the workforce to be more productive. Having a positive and motivating environment amongst the employees also helped in a big way.

How are companies evaluating their employees' performance while working from home?

For us, the wellbeing of our employees is as important as their work performance. Before evaluating their work performance, we make sure that they are physically and mentally fit to give their best performance at the work front.

In order to evaluate their work performance while working from home, we focus on evaluating quality and quantity, instead of time worked. When handing out tasks to the employees, we make sure that we are very clearly dictating the expectations. Our explanation includes deadlines and defined details about the task itself. We strongly believe that the key to working well with remote employees is to be very clear and specific with all expectations. This drastically reduces the need for any micromanagement.

What is the way forward for the new initiatives taken by your company to engage with the employees working from home, helping them to boost their morale?

In order to keep the morale of the employees high and to keep them motivated while they work from home, the HR team on a day-to-day basis does engagement and wellness programmes and emphasizes on staying motivated, safe, and healthy. While we earlier only used to organise fun activities once a week, now the same is being organised more often to keep the employees more engaged

HR to play a bigger role during and after Covid-19

With the current disruption in the industry, traditional ways of working have become things of the past. It is crucial for HR to revamp the policies and processes in accordance with the new normal.

The need for remote working would grow the demand for automation and collaboration tools and increase the shift to cloud computing. It is imperative to keep employees motivated and enthused to achieve this future together. In these times, human resources (HR) department is tasked with ensuring adequate enablement and engagement of teams while also preparing for some hard decisions.

The organizations which were prepared for the work from home were better equipped to deal with the nationwide situation without any significant impact on productivity. The HR department of every organization has been in the frontline, leading the efforts to facilitate employees. In situations like these, HR, in addition to handling the business requirements, is also responsible for managing concerns and apprehensions of their employees.

As the initial chaos settles, HR has to step up and support their employees and prioritize their mental and emotional wellbeing. These unprecedented times can induce anxiety and raise the stress levels of a person, and the onus is on the employers to channel these emotions in order to keep their employees safe, motivated, and productive.

The Way Forward for HR

The onboarding practices for new employees need to be reviewed to align them to the organization’s vision and goals while ensuring a seamless remote joining experience. The entire employee journey will have to be planned as the HR gets ready for the new challenges that come along with a distributed virtual atmosphere. This could mean the modification of recruitment practices, rewards and recognition policies, engagement initiatives, exit processes, and everything in between.

How do the Future Organizations look like?

• Working hours, locations, and even the work arrangements to become more fluid

• Remote working to be an integral part of every organization

• The popularity of contractual jobs and freelancers to grow

• Workforce to constantly upgrade and work on capability enhancement to remain competitive

• Focus on learning and development to increase to make employees future-ready

Biggest Challenges of HR Professionals in COVID-19 Pandemic

Who on earth has ever thought of the challenges that 2020 would bring? HR professionals have certainly not imagined the challenges that COVID-19 has dawned on them. The uncertainty has crushed the economy, employees are in stressful situations, and HR professionals are trying their best to keep everything in perspective and aligned. But is it as easy as it sounds?

The sudden shift in work culture has brought new challenges for HR. The top priority for HR professionals is now crisis response and how to keep the employees engaged, provide the right communication channels and tools for remote work, and more. 

Let’s discuss the top HR challenges that managers are facing due to the COVID-19 outbreak

1. Mental Health and Wellbeing

The sudden shift in work culture took a toll on overall employee health and wellbeing. Stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues have always been there, and it is no new story. Organizations have always been initiating wellness programs and providing employees with security, health benefits, and flexibility to help them overcome their health issues. But the sudden COVID-19 outbreak has brought the employees’ mental problems in the front seat.

When you have your workers working in an office work environment, you at least understand their pulse and sensitivity, and that helps you immensely to tackle the issues. But employees going remote, communication routes have been significantly compromised, leaving the managers clueless or at least less conscious. In a recent COVID-19 pulse survey, HR professionals across the globe responded health and wellbeing of the workers to be a major concern.

2. Managing Remote Work

The transition to remote work culture is not as seamless as it seems. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, less than 50% of companies had a remote work program. Banks, regulated industries, and many financial services companies did not encourage remote working. Now almost all of them rushing to build remote work strategies.

This has led to many undiscovered problems. HR managers are trying to build seamless routes and strategies to overcome the challenges that it brings. Strategies are no more designed periodically or in advance but in real-time. The focus on employee productivity and engagement has shifted to immediate responses and diagnosis. To provide employees with the right tools and also gather real-time updates from them from time to time to untangle the intricacies and offer support.

3. Lack of Agility

One of the major reasons why HR teams are struggling is due to the lack of agility.

Many HR teams are not designed for agility. And this affecting the HR professional big time. In this crisis, it is critical to respond fast and move quickly. But there are many approvals to take before taking action. This slows down the process of collecting data and take immediate measures that a crisis demands. To become more agile in their approach and re-prioritizing company goals and to have the right communication and alignment among middle management and executives is the need of the hour now

4. Employee Communication

Communication is another major challenge that is on the priority list. Communication, in itself, is a critical aspect that needs to be taken into account whether or not the workforce is working remotely. Without the right communication channels, it becomes difficult to manage a workforce. The COVID-19 crisis had the HR professionals on toes and kept them looking for the right remote working tools that suit their culture. Though tools like Zoom or Slack are commonly used to meet the needs of the workforce, it certainly is not enough to get everyone on the same page.

More or less the HR teams are doing their best by sharing-

Updates regarding measures adopted by the organization,

Updates from business leaders via email or video,

Links to valuable external information sources,

Ongoing communication on HR policies related to the crisis,

And through health talks and training sessions.

5. Uncertainty

Uncertainty can paralyze anyone. The daunting feeling of not knowing what the future holds or what measures to take to sustain organizational operations is a huge challenge. We all are more or less affected by uncertainty. Employees are affected mentally, not knowing what the future holds for them, and the HR teams are struggling to put everything in alignment. To respond to the crisis and develop effective measures and strategies for all.

6. Employee Engagement

The ultimate company goal is the productivity of its employees. It becomes challenging to keep the employees engaged when they are working remotely and that too, in a crisis. The internal communication is compromised, and keeping everyone on the same page becomes tough. With remote working, it is difficult to follow a routine and even except a systematic workflow. When the teams are cross-functional, you have little power to manage them. Not updating them regularly or not arranging meetings/ sessions can impact their morale to a great extent.

Employee Productivity

Organizational Design cannot work in isolation from Employee Productivity. As a strong believer of an output driven productivity measure, in my mind, the best way is to club this exercise with the Organizational design and define clear metrics and measures for roles across bands and to look at mechanisms like OKR (Objectives & Key Results) or CPM (Continuous Performance Management) to make both goals and its measurement more frequent.

This also helps eliminate one of the biggest fears of an output is driven productivity measure, that if the cycle of measurement is too long, you will miss the opportunity to course-correct before the fatal damage is done. This is also one of the reasons why many Organizations look for input-driven measures as they are in front of you - now and here. Though the hygiene levels of input productivity measures are critical, an overly focused input-driven Productivity measure at these times can lead to a sense of disenchantment & feeling of mistrust (especially in your top talent) amongst employees aggravating a sense of emotional isolation with the Organization.

Employee Engagement

This is a time when the much-touted ‘Work-life integration’ has been achieved through forced by the hand of nature. The question is, are we prepared for it to happen so abruptly? The need for HR professionals and Business Leaders alike is to work together, ensuring Employee Engagement is maintained.

It is about taking small but critical steps like having a defined working hour outer limit (Burn outs, and porous work-life boundaries are the hidden demons in current scenario), quickly upgrading the HR Technology tools (running Performance Appraisals virtually can be a reality – are we prepared with the right tools to support?), relooking at your employee benefits plan, ensuring first-time managers are coached enough by leaders in the Organization to tackle remote supervision and upgrading the Learning & Development platforms and capabilities for the changing business needs.

Empathy, Health, and Safety

But at the core of each of the above pillars is genuine care for the team members. Working remotely comes with its own set of challenges, including a feeling of isolation or self-created pressure in the lack of more constant validation of work in an office setting.

It is critical to create measures at the Organizational level and implement them at team levels driven by Business Heads. Have a well defined COVID -19 Action plan for the organization, including your response in the unfortunate event of a team member testing positive or coming in contact with someone who has tested positive. It is critical not just to be a support to the team member in question, but also to ensure the safety of the others in the team through active contact tracing if required. Also, have a clearly defined COVID-19 exit strategy highlighting clear action items and accountabilities. This would put the employees at much more ease when they come back to office while ensuring safety for all. If you have an ‘Employee Assistance Program’, this is the time to make sure everyone is aware of it and feels free to reach out in case of need without fear or doubts on the anonymity of the program.

Organizations can either look at this passage of time as a challenge, or they can look at it as an opportunity to genuinely live up to the brand identity in the mind of the employees.

HR Challenges During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The HR challenges managers face vary with their company’s location, sector and size, but it is clear that many businesses will have to tighten their belts. HRM challenges during covid include organizing people to work remotely, supporting employees’ mental health and wellbeing, motivating and engaging employees, to name a few.

Furthermore, instead of laying off workers or slashing wages, companies are seeking alternate corporate strategies such as using technology to support work-from-home or reviewing costs to stretch the budget.

How can HR Leaders best motivate and support employees?

Provide Direction, Confidence and Resilience.

Employees look to leaders for reassurance, especially in times of instability. It is important that those in leadership roles communicate clearly with managers and staff and demonstrate a clear commitment to employee health and business sustainability. Let employees of all levels know the current plan and possibilities for the future.

Understand that employees are receiving conflicting forecasts and advice from the local, state, and national governments –not to mention social media disinformation. Contextualize updates from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Center for Disease Control (CDC) with specific instructions on how your company will be adapting recommendations and moving forward. 

Be Flexible

One of the biggest HR challenges during covid that companies are regularly facing is the scope of the disruption. With schools and non-essential businesses closed or moving online, employees will need flexibility and understanding as they try to re-establish a work-life balance. Companies can support employees who are quarantined or self-isolated by expanding paid time off policies or facilitating them in working remotely.

Create guidelines and support networks for those working from home

Employers moving to a work-from-home system can support employees by establishing norms and implementing a defined remote work policy that sets clear expectations for when team members are to be available, how to communicate (via email, Slack, or another platform) and exactly what each team member is responsible for. Make sure employees have the tech they need to perform the tasks expected of them.

Most importantly, give employees some breathing room to adjust to their new lifestyles. If their work doesn’t need to be done during normal business hours, managers might do well to let employees create their own schedules and determine what works best for them and their families. These are difficult times and individuals may be struggling with unwell family members or general anxiety.

Keep workers safe by maintaining a healthy work environment

For workers at essential businesses where work-from-home is not possible, it is up to the HR departments to prioritize the health and safety of their workers. Businesses should make sure their practices are in line with recommendations from the CDC and consider nominating a workplace coordinator to manage office policy surrounding COVID-19. Keep employees safe and well by educating employees about transmission risks:

Offer training and development to establish hygiene regulations (washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, etc.).

Establish policies and practices for social distancing.

Prominently display posters illustrating respiratory etiquette (coughing, sneezing) and hand hygiene.

Perform routine environmental cleaning and disinfection.

Provide no-touch receptacles and hand sanitizer.

Look for Opportunities Amid Adversity

Facing the HR challenges presented by COVID-19 is a tall task. But try to think of COVID-19 as an opportunity to show your company’s empathy and demonstrate how it values its employees. Crisis Management is an integral part of an HR team’s repertoire, and the ability to drive and support strong business decisions even during times of great turmoil will prove invaluable.

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