As if you haven’t heard it enough, we’ll say it again: the economy and employment have fundamentally changed. Yup, 2020 is the year people are going to study 120 years from now. COVID-19 has shut down businesses and created massive layoffs, but it’s also bringing in a host of brand new possibilities. So there’s reason to be excited!
Go Hustle spoke to Celeste Stewart, an expert in the Human Resource industry and Director of Bold Curiosity, a development consultancy. So, what will HR departments look like going forward? And what will it be like to look for a job post-COVID-19?
Change leads to major innovation…
A big challenge for companies is how to recruit people in times of social distancing. “Corporates are known to be quite conservative, but the pandemic has bought about innovation and disruption. Many companies have responded to how the world of work is changing by being more tech savvy,” says Celeste. And HR departments won’t be far behind.
How will COVID-19 affect how you apply for a job?
“We’ve taken the first step of adjusting by working from home – so we know this is possible,” says Celeste. “Questions such as how employees will work, how they’ll take on different functionalities, and thoughts around how companies will recruit people are on everyone’s minds.”
One thing is for sure – it’s going to be very different! If companies haven’t yet adopted an online approach, they may have to do so very quickly during lockdown, says Celeste.
Many companies now prefer using the internet to connect virtually. Even things like induction and “onboarding” (helping newly hired staff to adjust) may shift online.
“HR departments may have to consider sending acceptance letters and forms to be filled in via email before joining the organisation,” says Celeste. Signing contracts is going to have to be streamlined or automated.
And that’s just the beginning…
Virtual disciplinary hearings – is that even a thing?
So will things like disciplinary hearings happen on a virtual call as opposed to having everyone in the room? Yup – not every employee will necessarily need to be physically present. “Companies are probably going to have a policy in place that allows, say, 50% of their employees to work remotely, [with] the rest in the office,” says Celeste.
“There isn’t going to be a massive influx at workspaces,” she explains. We have to build a buffer to manage the curve, so we don’t get a secondary COVID-19 spike six months from now.
Realistically, how will all this WFH and tech affect South Africans?
Only a fraction of us in SA have been able to secure decent jobs. We have a degree of privilege. We’re lucky to have data or Wi-Fi!
This isn’t the case for the majority of South Africans. Not everyone can afford to scan documents and send them to companies in advance, or are able to take psychometric tests from the comfort of their own home.
So will it really be possible to automate all these processes and still reach a broader network of people? “We’ve been very careful about the assumptions we make whenever we introduce automation and online working,” says Celeste.
“[We do need to] remain empathic and connected to the realities of what job applicants are actually faced with in trying to find employment and break into the business,” she says. It’s going to be interesting. Watch this space.