Human Resource Management During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Human resource management (HRM) refers to the recruitment, selection, training, and compensation of individuals in an organization in order to attain certain goals. The process encompasses several activities, including recruitment, selection and orientation, performance management, learning and development, compensation and benefits, and creation of policies to govern these practices. Traditionally, HRM was a simple process that was handled by the human resource division of a firm.

However, the emergence of COVID-19 disease has introduced changes that have affected the discipline with regard to staffing, compensation, and professional development. This paper aims to explore the concept of Human Resource management and its role in the workplace in the COVID_19 and post-COVID-19 environment. It will discuss the various functions of HRM, its nature and context, and its various processes, and how they have evolved because of the pandemic. Primarily, the paper will focus on compensation and benefits as a core function of human resource management.


Human resource management (HRM) can be defined as the process of recruiting, training, and compensating employees in an organization. It also comprises key activities such as professional development, the creation of policies that govern their welfare, and the implementation of measures to retain them in the organization. Over the last two decades, the field of HRM has undergone several changes, especially with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic. In the past, HRM was mainly focused with administrative functions such as paying employees and conducting training workshops and outings. However, it evolved to encompass both administrative and strategic functions. Currently, with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, HRM is tasked with the responsibility of reducing staff numbers and helping employees deal with stress and uncertainty, as they work remotely. In order to navigate the new environment, it is important for organizations to develop and implement crisis management plans and new policies that govern the process of working remotely as they look into the future.

The Nature and Context of HRM

HRM can be described as a development-oriented, action-oriented, pervasive, people-oriented, future-oriented, continuous, goal-oriented, and interdisciplinary function. Human resource management primarily focuses on the optimal utilization of human capital for the attainment of organizational goals, vision, and mission (Bratton & Gold, 2017). According to Young (2002), optimal utilization means the allocation and use of resources in a way that maximizes productivity and output. In order to achieve this, organizations should implement techniques that include professional training and development, motivation, and appropriate compensation and benefits.

Strategic Human Resource Management

One of the major components of HRM in contemporary work environments is the formulation and implementation of measures for strategic organizational growth. In that regard, strategic HRM bridges the gap between human capital and an organizations goals and objectives (Sims & Bias, 2019). Its benefits include higher productivity, a better work culture, efficient management of resources, increased job satisfaction, higher levels of customer satisfaction, and improved management of employees (Mello, 2014). Strategic HRM is highly applicable now because of the uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic.

HRM Before and After COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has put to the forefront the importance of HRM in organizations, especially regarding the mitigation of challenges associated with human capital management. Employees need more financial, technical, and psychological support now that the needed before because of increased uncertainty (Troger, 2021). Challenges that have emerged include the risk of losing one’s job, increased mental stress, reduced salaries, working hours, the need for social distance, and the management of remote work. Firms are turning to their HR departments for the development of effective strategies to mitigate these challenges. It is challenging for HR teams to implement new strategies because it is difficult to tailor them to individual employees. Traditional HRM practices applied to all employees because they worked in a common workplace (Troger, 2021).

Future HRM must devise ways to manage remote work and geographically diverse workforces. Employees with families are finding it challenging to work from home and deal with the interruptions caused by domestic responsibilities (Troger, 2021). In that regard, it is difficult for firms to conduct evaluations and appraisals under the new working environments. Future HRM must put into place new policies to address remote work, compensation packages, health insurance, and staffing (Troger, 2021). These organization needs have evolved significantly, and necessitate a change in the processes involved in their execution.

Functions of HRM

Recruitment and Selection

Staffing as a function of HR involves any process that deals with the recruitment, selection, and orientation of employees. Human resource teams evaluate the staffing needs of organizations, mainly based on revenue projections and vacant positions (Bratton & Gold, 2017). Before COVID-19, shortlisted people attended face-to-face interviews, and those selected underwent a process of orientation in the organization. Currently, interviews are conducted virtually through online platforms and software applications like Zoom and Skype.

Creation of Workplace Policies

In an organization, policies ensure that the operations of the firm are streamlined and conducted in accordance with the mission and vision statements. It is the responsibility of the human resource department to evaluate and identify the policy needs of their firms (Carbery & Cross, 2019). For instance, new policies might be created or old policies could be repealed, replaced, or improved upon. The process should involve brainstorming and the communication of the inherent changes to employees (Dessler, 2013). Common policies that operate in organizations include dress code, internet usage, vacation time, discipline process, ethics, and conflict resolution.

Performance Management and Retention

Performance management is a basic role of HRM that involves supplying employees with resources that help them to perform better in the attainment of goals and objectives. One way of improving performance is the provision of feedback in a timely manner (Dessler, 2013). One of the challenges that organizations have to deal with is staff turnover (Carbery & Cross, 2019). The retention of high-performing and talented staff should be a major goal of HRM. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed this function because employees need to create new tools to measure the performance of employees who work remotely.

Learning and Development

The main objective of learning and development is to help employees develop new skills that are necessary for the performance of their duties. Moreover, it introduces employees to the organization’s processes and how to conduct them in accordance with policies that are in place (Dessler, 2013). Professional development is beneficial to companies because it enhances employee motivation, increases productivity within the organization, and plays a key role in employee retention (Young, 2002). Examples of training and development opportunities include team-building activities, job skill straining, and legal training (Dessler, 2013). Under the current situation, organizations are conducting virtual training workshops for their employees as the majority are now working remotely from varied locations.

Employee Health and Safety

It is the right of employees to work in workplaces that promote their welfare by protecting their health and safety. With the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations need to invest more to ensure that their workers are free from the virus. This could include offering free masks, supplying sanitizers, and reorganizing workspaces to maintain safe distances (Troger, 2021). There are several local, state, and federal laws that protect employee safety in organizations. HRM should consider all laws that influence how they create and implement policies (Dessler, 2013). Moreover, union contracts have a significant impact on workplace safety.

HRM and Labor Relations

A key role of HRM is the management of external factors that affect the proper functioning of organizations. An example is labor or industrial relations that refer to the interactions between employers, employees, union representatives, and the government (Dessler, 2013). Both state and federal governments implement policies that administrate work relationships. Therefore, HRM should develop labor relations systems that include components such as dispute resolution, negotiation methods, safety performance management, freedom of association and representation, and work organization among others.

Employee Compensation and Benefits

The management of employee compensation and benefits is one of the most important aspects of HRM. It involves the management of employee performance, the creation of performance standards, the creation and implementation of compensation policies, the provision of benefits for employees, and the rewarding of employees for exceptional performance (Noe et al., 2007). Employees are compensated based on several factors: professional qualifications, labor negotiations, supply and demand, cost of living, competitive analysis, and the complexity. HRM evaluates the amount of pay that people in similar jobs receive, the expenses of living within the region in which the employee lives, the influence of collective bargaining and union contract agreements, and the availability of individuals with similar professional qualifications (Noe et al., 2007).

Many organizations are moving away from traditional pay plans because the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how work is done. Many employees are working from home, thus necessitating the implementation of new tools to measure performance and calculate their remuneration.

The creation of compensation packages that attract and retain employees is one of the critical functions of HRM. The largest portion of an organization’s budget is allocated to employee compensation, and this could include bonuses, wages, salaries, and healthcare plans (Noe et al., 2007). Health care plans are largely important now due to the increased risk of contracting COVID-19. However, many firms have to contend with offering additional benefits amidst business interruptions and decreased earnings.

As mentioned earlier, the goals of compensation include attracting talented individuals, offering motivation, and retaining them in order to lower staff turnover (Noe et al., 2007). Research has shown that employees who are highly compensated report high levels of productivity, provide better customer service, and they experience higher levels of job satisfaction (Schein, 2017). The provision of incentives is one of the ways used by firms to motivate employees. For example, Google gives its employees nap pods, free dry cleaning and gym subscriptions, and on-site doctor evaluations as perks that are aimed at enhancing employee motivation.

An emerging issue amidst the crisis is whether worker compensation covers individuals who contract COVID-19. Employee compensation has been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In past HRM practices, worker compensation did not include insurance for diseases that could not be connected to the workplace. Therefore, human resource managers need to find ways to address the health insurance of their employees with COVID-19 (Troger, 2021). The National Council on Compensation Insurance noted that certain states have policies that require employers to offer health coverage to firefighters who suffer from lung and respiratory illnesses. However, since COVID-19 is not work related, it is difficult to determine whether it should be covered by worker’s compensation (Caligiuri et al., 2020). The pandemic has heralded an era in which jobs that were traditionally regarded as non-hazardous have become dangerous for workers (Troger, 2021). Employees who offer essential services are subjected to the risk of contracting the virus while at work. It is necessary for HRM teams to evaluate the issue and determine whether the disease should be covered by worker’s compensation.

Payroll Management

Organizations create payroll systems that provide compensation to employees based on the aforementioned factors. These systems serve several functions that are associated with HR functions. They manage taxation functions, track employee work hours for overtime eligibility, and store information related to benefits and bonuses (Noe et al., 2007). In addition, it collates payroll-related inputs, determines the actual remuneration, provides a detailed breakdown of salaries and wages, and contains the organization’s remuneration strategy. An effective payroll management system allows organizations to comply with government regulations and pay employees in a fair and timely manner (Schein, 2017). For instance, HRM has to deal with the compensation of employees during quarantine periods.

The storage of records in a key function of payroll management. According to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), every organization is required to keep updated records about every employee. The type of data collected includes employee name and social security number, sex and occupation, address, hours worked each week, basis of wage payment, hourly pay rate, hours worked each day, and overtime earnings.

Many firms store these records in electronic form in order to improve their safety and enhance the ease of dissemination. Financial documents should always be available in case employees or the Department of Labor (DOL) wants to access them. Organizations that use payroll management software streamline their process by increasing compliance with federal laws, speeding up payroll processing, and improving the privacy of employee information. The choice of a payroll management tool should be determined by factors that include security, reputation and trustworthiness, compatibility, and business size.

Currently, many employees have adjusted their compensation packages to fit the prevailing conditions. Factors that have initiated these changes include the interruption and closure of businesses, the placement of employees under quarantines, and reduced earnings (Troger, 2021). Traditional HRM practices did not comprise policies to address these situations. Therefore, there is a need for the creation of crisis management plans and new policies that govern the process of working remotely as they look into the future. One of the challenges facing organizations is the design of compensation plans because many employees are working remotely (Troger, 2021).

Therefore, it is hard to monitor them to ensure that they are compliant with organizational policies. Compensation processes have become more complex because of the uncertainty caused by the pandemic (Caligiuri et al., 2020). HRM must take into consideration whether they should redesign their compensation and benefits procedures for the present and the future.

Employee Benefits

Benefits are the bonuses and incentives that organizations offer to employees that are separated from their salaries. In many firms, the most common types of benefits offered include retirement benefits, life insurance, fringe benefits, paid leave, disability insurance, and medical insurance (Noe et al., 2007). These incentives are highly valuable because they help employees to save a lot of money. Moreover, they vary from company to company, and from country to country. A key HRM best practice is to offer fair compensation and benefits based on performance (Schein, 2017). Other types of benefits offered to employees include stock options, off days, free lunches, profit-sharing, sign-on bonuses, relocation bonus, housing and school reimbursement, 401k matches, and paid vacations.

These benefits have greatly changed because the coronavirus pandemic has introduced several restrictions that render certain incentives such as vacations unviable. Organizations are also finding it difficult to manage their workforces because of their diverse geographical distribution (Troger, 2021). Moreover, many firms pay employees based on their geographical location. With remote work, these strategies have to change. Another challenge is how to compensate workers based on how they do their work (Caligiuri et al., 2020). For example, they could consider abdicating the full-time compensation plan and adopt a more flexible pay plan based on the projects completed and demand for certain services (Troger, 2021). Firms are designing compensation packages based on various tools, including hardship pay and slay reductions.


Human resource management can be defined as the process of managing human capital through recruiting, training, and compensating employees in an organization. Traditionally, these processes were straight forward and easy. However, the advent of the COVID-19 disease has necessitated a shift in the way the processes are executed. For instance, many employees are working remotely. Therefore, managing a geographically distributed workforce is challenging. Moreover, determining the most appropriate payment plan for employees is also difficult because of the uncertainty caused by the disease.

Major functions of HRM include employee recruitment, selection, and orientation, professional training and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, employee separation and retention, employee health and safety, and labor relations. HRM has to create new strategies for executing these functions because of the uncertainty and change of process created by COVID-19.


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