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If you had an HR strategy for earlier this year, you may have needed to revise it or put it aside. In this unprecedented climate, employers have had to shift focus several times.

Now you’re being asked to shift your HR focus once more. Lockdowns are lifting, employees are returning, and businesses are returning to full speed and capacity.

Where should you be placing your focus? These four areas can offer the strategic focus you need this fall.

Workplace Safety Should Be Stressed

Perhaps the most important area of focus right now is workplace safety. Workplaces are reopening, but there are many precautions you should be taking to protect your teammates.

Many offices have reinstalled cubicles or partition barriers between employees to create social distance. Some have spaced employees out at work stations, asking only those who are vital to the office to return. Protocols around the use of common areas have had to be established and enforced.

Examine details such as the provision of hand sanitizer, soap, and even masks or gloves. You could require new safety protocols for inviting clientele into the office.

Mental health must also be a focus of a workplace safety strategy. Many of your team members may be under additional stress, whether they’re working from home or back in the office. Creating supports to help employees manage this stress is crucial.

Flexible Work Options

Flexible work for your employees should be your next consideration. Many employers are offering the opportunity to continue working from home until the end of this year.

Consider which employees must be in the office. Some people can continue working remotely, whether full-time or part-time. You could ask employees who do need to be in the office to reduce their time by working remotely part-time or creating split shifts.

You can also offer employees more opportunities to choose their hours. This will help you accommodate employees who may have other commitments, such as childcare, remote learning for children, and even eldercare.

Benefits and Compensation

Your HR team should examine benefits and compensation packages for your employees. If you’re still managing a hybrid team of remote and in-office workers, you may need to revisit their compensation options.

An example might include a reimbursement program for employees working remotely. Can you help them cover home office costs such as an upgraded Internet package or a new computer?

What about employees who are working in the office? If you’re paying for remote workers’ cellphone plans, should your in-office workers have the same offer extended to them?

You may also want to reconsider some of the wages you’re paying. Employees might need to be incentivized to return to the office. Other employers are attempting to hire during this period, so a talented worker may decide to look elsewhere if a better wage is on the table.

Other benefits considerations can include improved sick leave and other leave policies, childcare and eldercare accommodations, or even mental health and wellness benefits. Many Canadians are interested in savings plans right now, so a benefit directed at helping people start saving could be a smart move.

Strategic Hiring for the Season Ahead

Finally, your HR strategy should outline how you’ll proceed with recruitment, hiring, and onboarding for the season ahead. Many employers are opening up quickly, and demand is rising. You may find you need all hands on deck quickly.

Having a hiring strategy will help you cope with bringing on new employees, finding temporary workers, or rehiring people you had to lay off in the spring. You could also consider contracts, including flexible terms, in case of reclosures.

You’ll also need to outline how you’ll handle recruitment, how you’ll compete with other employers looking to hire talent, and the virtual and in-person protocols you’ll use to assess candidates and get your new hires oriented.

The right HR strategy at this point will make all the difference as you move forward into the fall and holiday season.

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Kaneez Jaffer

Kaneez is a Certified Human Resources Leader (CHRL) with an advanced knowledge of human resources and organizational structure and design. She has extensive experience with HRIS systems and understands the need to move HR from a transactional model to a transformational one. She has worked in the investment banking, insurance, and legal industries, as well as with large not-for-profit centres helping to simplify and streamline their internal systems. Kaneez is an expert in building relationships and affecting change in a positive and productive way. She acts as the key HR business partner at Apri Insurance Services Inc, managing the implementation of JungoHR, while providing expert advice and counsel on a range of HR matters. Kaneez holds a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management as well as a Certificate in HR Law for HR Professionals from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto, Canada.

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