COVID-19 Impact on Human Resource Management

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Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has come with its fair share of implications cutting across all spheres of human life. Human resource management (HRM) is one of the aspects that have greatly been affected by the global pandemic, increasing discussion on how organizations can cope with the new norm. The significance of HR professionals’ role has immensely increased in the past year as many organizations strive to come up with effective and agile adaptations in the face of the pandemic. One of those serious realities that businesses are grappling with is remote working, a new concept that most organizations were not familiar with.

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A lot of skepticism surrounds the ‘work from home’ ideal and especially in regard to its effect on the companies’ productivity and employee performance. It is a necessary intervention that ensures business continuity and survival in hard times. Still, its impact on working practices is an issue of great concern world-over given that no company has committed to long-term remote working. HR professionals and business managers have to think of this new normal going into the future, but this will require new systems, policies, and procedures to be put in place. Nevertheless, remote working has had various positive impacts on HRM, such as business continuity, reduced overhead costs, and overall employee well-being. This paper will explore the impact of COVID-19 on Human Resource Management concerning the aspect of remote working.

Literature Review

Aitken-Fox, E., Coffey, J., Dayaram, K., Fitzgerald, S., Gupta, C., McKenna, S., & Wei Tian, A. (2020). The impact of Covid-19 on human resource management: avoiding generalizations. LSE Business Review.

The authors argue against the generalizations of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human resource management practice. They observe an accelerated discussion on the implications for working practices, but the content and their comments have been general. They highlight remote working as one of the positive implications of the global COVID-19 pandemic that has revolutionized people and workforce management in organizations. The study focused on Australia reveals crucial gains that organizations stand to benefit from had the remote working concept been fully institutionalized going into the future.

First, the work-from-home concept has become a new normal that has characterized various organizations in Australia. Various sectors have been positively impacted by this small working idea in that jobs that would have been declared redundant have been preserved under remote working. This not only ensures business continuity but averts the otherwise obvious layoffs that would have been witnessed. Working from home has ensured job security, as various companies retain their employees instead of termination of contracts due to the COVID-19 crisis. Some additional hiring has been seen with corporations able to retain their staff without any government subsidies.

Secondly, the small working idea has disrupted traditional people management strategies and forced HR professionals and business leaders to devise new agile and effective adaptation strategies to manage the workforce better and ensure productivity. While the leadership is doing the best, it can ensure the effectiveness of remote working days, there is a need to have new systems, policies, and guidelines to streamline the remote work in due diligence. The management has to ensure the employee welfare is taken care of in the new dispensation and that employees have the necessary technical support to perform their tasks. The authors, however, noted the source of the skepticism for remote working among Australian employers to be the lack of trust in some of their employees. This factor elicits micromanagement, hence the need for the counter-issues to be looked at in a broader context.

Caligiuri, P., De Cieri, H., Minbaeva, D., Verbeke, A., & Zimmermann, A. (2020). International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice.

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The authors of this study sought to demonstrate the relevance of international human resource management (IHRM) in light of the global Covid-19 scourge. The researchers opine that the various measures being taken by the key decision-makers in major multinational companies as a response to the pandemic have been related to managing the distance and rethinking the boundaries. Cross-border challenges that have been witnessed by the travel bans imposed by various countries have hindered international mobility, giving rise to the concept of a ‘virtual workforce.’ Prior research in this study unearthed the distance challenges regarding training, support, health, safety, and employee selection. The authors make a case for the benefits of a virtual workforce by declaring that the unanticipated distance separation does not imply psychological separation and that there are gains firms stand to make if they embrace this ‘new normal.’

The first gain is concerning flexible work arrangements for the virtual workforce. This is regarding how, where, and when employees do their work, which has yielded positive benefits to their health and well-being. They downplay the perceived drawbacks of virtual working, such as increased work hours and increased work-life conflict, by suggesting that the employees only work during work hours and insist on them embrace healthy habits. The identified gap is in how the management will better implement flexible working arrangements with their employees. The adaptation for virtual working has to be considered in light of the post-COVID 19 times and long-term strategy. Integration of technology in the work settings could provide an advanced network to facilitate members to perform their roles from any place. The move also calls for organizations to technically train their employees on the application of a digital system delivery of services.

Carnevale, J. B., & Hatak, I. (2020). Employee adjustment and well-being in the era of COVID-19: Implications for human resource management. Journal of Business Research, 116, 183-187.

The authors’ focus is on the need for organizations to remain alert and adaptive in unforeseeable and unpredictable events, for instance, external crises that occasion uncertainty in the workforce and threaten the organizations’ performance. The COVID-19 pandemic is one such global event that has had implications on organizations and necessitated new solutions to address it. The pandemic has bred a tumultuous and unprecedented working environment for human resource management (HRM). The management is now wallowing in unchartered waters as they strive to help their workforce in the adaptation process. Remote working is a disruptive idea from the traditional in-office working that most people are accustomed to. Since not all people have similar coping mechanisms, some employees may face challenges adapting to the new norm, and it is up to the HR professionals to come in for them. While the authors champion this working from idea, they are aware of the underlying challenges that this new mode of working may occasion, such as blurring the work and life spheres and perceived negative implications on employees’ well-being.

Discussion

Generally, the concept of ‘remote working,’ otherwise known as ‘work from home, is not a bad practice, as evidenced by the various authors’ studies discussed above. All the authors agree that it is a game-changer that may shape the working environment going into the future, given that the long-term implications of this COVID-19 pandemic are currently unknown. Therefore, it is not right to assume that the effects of the pandemic on HRM are short-lived. Among the positive impacts, this remote working idea has occasioned the continuity of business. Not all business roles can be done remotely, but the fact that some roles can be carried out of the office instead of having to close down a business is relieving. Businesses can redefine their staff’s roles and give them more impetus to drive the business success through this scourge whose end is not in sight. Working from home also reduces overhead costs for maintaining the workforce and forces the management to think of better agile and effective adaptational strategies to manage the workforce better.

HRM practice has remained a set of traditional customs carried over the years, but the pandemic has provided the opportunity to refocus on newer and better HRM ways. It has revitalized the resilience and adaptability of organizations to current and future crises. Despite the endorsement of the remote working concept, there are underlying challenges that the researchers noted that have to be addressed, such as the plight of untrustworthy employees that can take advantage of the work from home provision to sabotage the company’s productivity. This worry has been attributed to causing micromanagement, which is an unhealthy practice. Additionally, there are concerns about the blurring edge between the work and life spheres. All these concerns need to be focused on the management leading in taking the employees through the adaptational process.

References

Aitken-Fox, E., Coffey, J., Dayaram, K., Fitzgerald, S., Gupta, C., McKenna, S., & Wei Tian, A. (2020). The impact of Covid-19 on human resource management: Avoiding generalizations. LSE Business Review. Web.

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Caligiuri, P., De Cieri, H., Minbaeva, D., Verbeke, A., & Zimmermann, A. (2020). International HRM insights for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic: Implications for future research and practice. Journal of International Business Studies, 51, 697-713. Web.

Carnevale, J. B., & Hatak, I. (2020). Employee adjustment and well-being in the era of COVID-19: Implications for human resource management. Journal of Business Research, 116, 183-187. Web.

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BusinessEssay. 2022. "COVID-19 Impact on Human Resource Management." June 5, 2022. https://business-essay.com/covid-19-impact-on-human-resource-management/.

1. BusinessEssay. "COVID-19 Impact on Human Resource Management." June 5, 2022. https://business-essay.com/covid-19-impact-on-human-resource-management/.


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BusinessEssay. "COVID-19 Impact on Human Resource Management." June 5, 2022. https://business-essay.com/covid-19-impact-on-human-resource-management/.