HR pressures due to coronavirus set to continue into 2021

The pressure HR teams are under due to the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to continue into 2021.

According to computer software company Culture Amp’s How companies are embracing a new future survey, 37% of the respondents said they’d be halting new hires or at least considering a freeze in recruitment going ahead into the new year.

Before the COVID-19 outbreak just 5% of companies surveyed had most employees working remotely, but now 75% reported that the majority of their employees are fully remote.

One third of the companies that hadn’t previously used remote working are planning to continue to do so once restrictions ease.

For those organisations which had little experience of remote work, 35% will keep more than half of their employees working remotely full time and 19% will return to majority in-person work.

Despite the upheaval, HR team sizes have stayed the same this year. Seventy-two per cent of respondents reported no change in staffing since the COVID-19 outbreak.

Even for those companies experiencing increased demand for their products and services, only one fifth (20%) have strengthened the HR department to cope with increased workloads.

Kenneth Mathos, director of people science at Culture Amp, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has demanded many changes of companies, placing extreme pressure on human resources to solve unprecedented problems.

“In most instances, existing operations and policies have been adapted to new circumstances, which in itself can be a challenge.”

The survey’s findings raise concerns over the ability of HR functions to handle ever changing workloads as in June 2020, another survey from the company found that 57% of HR professionals were already finding their stress levels unmanageable.

Mathos recommended that people teams consider long and short-term plans to avoid adding more pressure.

He said: “In order for HR to be effective change agents, and with resourcing levels stretched in most cases, HR needs to have a strategy that considers both short and long-term needs with sufficient support, necessary resources and cooperation from key parts of the organisation.

“A well-equipped HR function can then make judicious decisions and effectively implement them as they adapt their employee feedback strategy, performance management, headcount plans, and policies to support employees - while helping maintain their own sense of wellbeing at the same time.”

Culture Amp surveyed over 400 HR professionals in September 2020.

Further reading:

Second lockdown putting extra pressure onto middle management

HR must be resilient in the face of a COVID-winter

Beyond the pandemic awaits a big opportunity for HR