Changing World Makes HR, Global Mobility Critical in Staff Support

In the current health crisis, human resources managers and global mobility managers have become the frontliners in the corporate world. They are working around the clock to institute emergency communication procedures and policies. They are navigating reductions in the workforce and helping staff adjust to work from home. Never has HR  and global mobility been more critical in the lives of their assignees.

What’s even more challenging for HR is the fact that they have to be ready to change any HR procedure on a day-to-day crisis, a far cry from the time HR set up systems in place with minimal changes. Today, they are all trying to put out fires on a moment’s notice. 

For global mobility professionals managing their relocated assignees, they also need to rewrite their own rules. When the profession before called for control and hierarchy, they now have to navigate a world of uncertainty. Harnessing collective intelligence within staffers is key, because they are affected and impacted the most by the crisis.

Questions to guide human resources

HBR offers some questions to guide human resources in terms of how they can deal with their staff and teams:

On communication

  • What information do we or could we share that would increase transparency?
  • What information do employees need and want?
  • What information would make employees feel more involved?

On trust:

  • If we had trust in the vast majority of employees, what would we do differently?
  • What’s getting in the way of trust?
  • What personal behaviors can we demonstrate that would help build even more trust?

On employee engagement

  • To what extent are employees affected by this situation?
  • What experience or knowledge do they have that will be valuable regarding this topic?
  • Have we made some topics taboo for employee engagement? If so, what assumptions are enforcing the taboo?

After all, HR is dealing with a crisis that may not go away soon. Remote work may be here to stay permanently, but how would HR manage employees they can only see on a virtual conference call and not physically. 

Daily HR concerns

HR needs to start collaborating with IT departments to implement new rules, as most staffers work from home or remotely. In its piece, HRMorning asked even more tougher questions that HR needs to answer: 

  • How will managers translate existing work rules, meeting schedules and communications strategies to the new reality?
  • Who will pay for remote workers’ connectivity and any required equipment, like printers, monitors, headset, etc.?
  • How will you recover them if someone quits or is fired?
  • How must job descriptions change to accommodate part- or full-time remote work?
  • How will you monitor and enforce attendance?
  • What HR functions must adapt – talent acquisition and development, discipline, benefits and compensation all introduce their own challenges in a remote work environment.

Organization culture as casualty

All well and good, but HR needs to know how to solve the thing that would be left out in all these adjustments: How to nurture organizational culture when no one is physically around. Organizational culture may end up being a casualty when the company has to prioritize survival.

Lastly, how would HR be able to monitor and engage employees when communication would be limited to meetings with their department heads and through email? HR will need to build training plans that target various work functions, benefiting not just the employee but the organization as well. 

These are many questions that HR and global mobility need to figure out. Even they will need some training to handle something as unexpected as this life-changing dilemma. And it’s about time. To paraphrase Eco-Business, the corporate world was focused on functions related to its products, operations and reputational influences. It is time the human element is recognized.