This is a year that will not soon be forgotten, where all aspects of life were turned upside down. In 2020, COVID-19 has caused the world to rethink human interaction and forced companies to shift how they do business.

Had the pandemic hit 10 or even five years ago, the response and recovery would look much different. Individuals and businesses have responded with remarkable resiliency providing hope for a better future.

Every organization, no matter its size or business model, has had to reexamine how it does business and keeps its workplaces safe. Ensuring hand sanitizer is readily available, surfaces are regularly disinfected, and layouts are configured so employees and customers can maintain proper social distancing are just the basics. Introducing touchless door systems for conference rooms, bathrooms, and even elevators; offering flexible work schedules; and making it possible for workers to pre-order meals from the cafeteria so they can really “grab and go” and not spend extra time waiting in lines are further examples of what companies are doing from an infrastructure point of view.

These changes impact the employee experience. Think of the experience of workers returning to their jobs on the factory floor or in the office. Will they be required to have their temperature checked daily? If so, how long will the wait be and will they end up lining up outside in unpleasant weather to do so? Or how are employees handling the added stress of so much change and uncertainty? They may be caring for a sick parent, trying to homeschool their children, or dealing with a partner whose income has been cut. On top of that, the interactions employees have with others that make work more enjoyable have changed or gone away. Lunch together at the cafeteria, an impromptu coffee meeting, or simple chitchat between office mates or workers on the production line are different post-pandemic.

For HR leaders, it is necessary to take all of these things into consideration to keep employees engaged and productive.

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