What happens when human capital management catches COVID-19? Late last year, we asked the question in our 2021 Research Agenda (3Sixty Insights BWSAG20101 Research Agenda 2021: Human Capital Management, October 2020). And, all last year and this, we saw the acute symptoms. Employers that didn’t have to shut down entirely transitioned by necessity to companywide work-from-home or hybrid arrangements. Organizations quickly learned they hadn’t properly anticipated or planned for the now well-documented, related challenges—of which there are many.
Now, however, the aid of hindsight shows us that COVID-19 just may have provided a lasting boon to the employee experience—specifically to the idea that the employee experience matters and cannot be ignored. This may seem odd to contemplate. Never mind that it took a pandemic and the attendant massive anomalies to business as usual for a shift in attitudes to take hold. Despite there being no line item in the general ledger to quantify the financial value of the employee experience, a positive one is essential to organizational success and must continue to be a large focus of investment post-pandemic. Opinions to the contrary have lost the sway they once had.
We will get back to normalcy, but business will never go back to the way things were pre-COVID-19. The pandemic wrought havoc not only on the economy, but also an array of preconceived notions vis-à-vis what matters most in running an organization. Though the needs of the workforce and the notions that employee engagement and employer culture are important enjoyed years’ worth of growing support long predating the pandemic, many saw these and related first advocations for the feelings of employees as novelties or, at most, nice-to-haves. It wasn’t until widespread lockdowns made the employee experience inextricable from the employee’s ability to do the job and inclination to do it well, that businesses began to realize they must protect that employee experience at all costs.
3Sixty Insights argues that these changes in attitudes will not wane. And there’s an intuitive tie-in with another concept that we have explored this year, the idea that some aspects of HCM catch the attention of powerful financial stakeholders in the organization, whereas others do not—but that all aspects of HCM are expressions of organizational health that a business must not ignore. We call these concrete and abstract HCM (3Sixty Insights BWSRN2142 Concrete vs. Abstract HCM: The Power of “And,” April 2021).
View and download the full research preview here: 3Sixty Insights – COVID-19 WFH and the Long View Research Preview