The pandemic has thrown a major spanner in the works for how businesses operate. Many have struggled to find the balance between keeping both employees and customers happy, while running business as usual and adapting to a new remote workforce. Over the last few months, HR departments have been a saviour for businesses. They’ve played a leading role in managing the disruption caused by COVID-19 and have provided much needed continuity for businesses during this challenging time.


As we transition into the next normal, they will play an even more critical role and will need to be even more efficient and productive than usual. Engaging key stakeholders and employees is vital to the success of any modern organisation, and more so now than ever as we move into the next normal.


However, HR teams can only continue their amazing work if they are equipped with the right technology, people and processes. And technology is the key to this. They need solutions that enable them to engage with employees with secure, personalised, two-way digital communications, to exchange important information and build valuable relationships. Without these in place, they won’t be able to be accurate and agile or continue reacting quickly to changing market conditions.


The modern-day HR team


Despite numerous stereotypes, HR teams have immense strategic important to a businesses’ success along with finance and payroll departments. Though all too often associated with negative events at an organisation – budget cuts, workforce rationalisation and audits to name just a few – today’s HR departments are breaking down these misconceptions. They strategically lead businesses to achieve more – improving employee engagement, streamlining processes and increasing efficiencies.


However, as we head into the next normal, HR departments will need to keep up with increasing demand and balance tactical day-to-day execution with strategic forward planning. The pressures of a new workforce – remote working and flexible hours – need to be managed, all while maintaining employee productivity and engagement and planning for the coming months. All the while with fewer resources than many HR teams are used to working with.


With these growing pressures, there is no time for outdated HR processes that lead to human error, tedious paperwork, and are not to mention very costly. Traditional processes set companies back financially, with costs for recruitment, printing, collating and filing, as well as shipping document fees, often escalating into the hundreds of pounds very quickly. During these times, saving time and budget is at the forefront of every senior leadership team’s minds. As such, it is even more essential than ever to have the right people, processes and technology in place to support HR teams. They are a real life line for businesses.


HR teams need to be able to provide the framework and infrastructure to be efficient and to support staff, in maintaining productivity through these workflow changes. But they need to do all this in a cost-effective manner. By harnessing a number of different technology solutions, they can do just that.


The value of HR tech and software


Through utilising the latest technology and software tools, such as cloud-based solutions and hosting systems, HR departments can create seamless administration processes, enabling them to operate as a true strategic partner within the business. As if time-consuming tasks are efficiently dealt with by the right technology, HR professionals will have the capacity they need to focus on supporting their people and enhancing processes.


Harnessing new software solutions enables HR teams to be accurate and agile, while reacting quickly to changing market conditions – something critical in these challenging times. And through automating both mundane and complex operational tasks, HR professionals can execute the same required outputs, while using fewer resources. This in turn can provide new data and insights to help improve the organisation’s overall productivity and workforce engagement. Ultimately helping drive business success.  


For example, by harnessing cloud-based hosting solutions, HR teams will be able to access all of their essential software applications and employee data from one easily accessible desktop or mobile application; reducing admin and freeing up time to provide greater support for employees. This technology enables HR departments to maintain, store and update employee records easily and securely, and removes the complexity and time spent on tasks like payroll, time logs and expenses. This streamlines day-to-day processes, creating custom workflows instead of relying on manual processes.


By using technology in this way, HR teams can also manage a full employee life cycle – advertising vacancies, onboarding new starters and managing employees’ development and performance throughout their career at the company – in one place.


Moving to the next normal with confidence


Utilising technology in HR departments has many benefits but it’s important that organisations support the inclusion of these tools to help HR teams continue to drive productivity and engagement across the business.


This is especially important right now and will be in the months ahead as the economy looks to recover from the impact of COVID-19. There is no new normal – the crisis has had an enormous effect on the UK economy and has affected all businesses in some way or another. Businesses must now be prepared for the next normal – the world will change again, and sooner than we all might think. The biggest lesson that can be learned from this crisis is that everyone has to be on their toes now.


This means controlling the controllables – income, outgoings, who a company employs, how it operates and how it engages them and customers. By harnessing HR technology solutions, HR teams can help senior leadership teams get as strong a handle on the controllables as they possibly can – whether that be their people, payroll or financials. So, if the worst happens, they will be in the best place possible to react and adapt moving forward with confidence.


HR teams have been key in mitigating the effects of the pandemic for businesses. Their ability to manage and continue critical processes, while still maintaining employee productivity and engagement, is what’s saved many businesses from failing. HR teams have proven themselves to be the heroes we need. As we face what lies ahead, through harnessing technology and software, HR teams will be able to manage the new workforce and support in driving business growth. But they need software solutions that enable them to engage with employees and provide strategic insight. Ultimately, to help save the business.  

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