Anyone involved in leading people over the last 15 months will have experienced a steep learning curve. Managers and HR alike have had to learn and deal with many new terms such as furlough, hybrid teams and virtual learning. They have also needed to understand how to manage not only their own mental health but also their team members from a distance.

Social distancing and remote working have put extra pressure on HR and managers as more team members have felt isolated and stressed since being separated from their usual office routine.

In a survey carried out by RSPH (Royal Society for Public Health) it was revealed that 67% admitted to feeling less connected to colleagues since Covid restrictions forced remote working. Alongside this, 56% stated they found it harder to switch off after work.

This increase of pressure, on line managers has naturally led to an increased reliance on internal HR teams during this period of time. The various concerns arising due to the high stress remote workplace that we have all experienced has only added to this.

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Rising to the challenges of 2020

The HR function has had to be ahead of the game, navigating the ever changing and often uncertain future to provide line managers the support they need. Restrictions were constantly changing and so HR had to adapt with this.

They also had to enable the organisation to make the right steps at the right time during unprecedented economic crisis. The pace of change, especially in 2020, was lightning speed, resulting in burnout across an unusually high percentage of employees.

In fact, in 2020, according to PerkBox, a staggering 79% of those surveyed had commonly experienced workplace stress. This is a 20% increase on 2018’s figure. It clearly shows the additional stress last year brought which included HR departments.

Challenges for HR and line managers in 2021

Organisations and staff are now facing another new challenge in 2021. Returning to a slightly alien workplace.

This is likely to increase staff-related queries and support requests coming from line managers to HR, so the pressure will still be on.

The preferred course of action HR can take is to empower the line managers to make the transition and change as easy as possible. Line Managers are those closest to their staff; they know the individuals and teams, so they are perfectly placed to build up their staff and redevelop those relationships without needing HR intervention.

This approach will serve to increase trust in managers in the long run, who would be able to better serve the individual teams. Also, this will be a win for HR, through the reduction of support requests they are likely to receive.  

Of course, HR can’t simply just wash their hands and have nothing further to do with the front-line support. However, through the creation, curation and development of learning materials, workshops and learning journeys, HR can be proactive in their approach to dealing with many concerns.

Check in calls between HR and line managers are essential for those impromptu conversations to nudge each other. These simple calls will help to readdress the (re)alignment of responsibility, and feedback to the organisation the current workplace culture.

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The next steps for HR

Thinking about the immediate future, the return to an office is likely to be the next hurdle for organisations and people to overcome. The chances are that there will be a slight, or even substantial difference between what people expect on their return and what the organisation can or wants to deliver.

Clarity is key in this environment, strong communication lines, respectful discussion and understanding will be required from all parties.

How OnTrack can help

If you are looking at introducing more coaching and learning opportunities for your organisation, we can offer a bespoke training service to tackle any business challenge.

Do you feel some staff leadership skills need work? Or perhaps remote working has exposed some weaknesses in problem solving or digital engagement? Alternatively, now you are looking at returning to the office, maybe you want to focus more on developing and building up the skills of your existing team.

Whatever the challenge, we can offer live learning, which is based solely online, in-person workshops or blended training. Whichever option works for your company, we can create a unique package for you to achieve your objectives.

Unlike many other training companies, we will provide all the training literature, resources and programmes which takes the pressure off your HR team.

 OnTrack are helping multiple organisations across the globe, and we would love to share what we have learned so far. Our approach to learning is not set in stone, we don’t believe “one size fits all” and we want to help you succeed for the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Contact us today to find out how we can help alleviate some pressure off HR and develop your business for a better, more efficient workplace