The unsung heroes of HR have become superheroes,” Naresh Kumar Puritipati

Managing pandemic fatigue will be one of the biggest challenges in 2021, feels Naresh Kumar Puritipati, human resources director, Lactalis Group

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2020: What to learn – what to erase

While work-from-home has scaled up with positive benefits and become acceptable to everyone, 2020 also speeded up the adoption of workplace digitalisation. The other boon is that employee engagement and wellbeing have taken the driver’s seat and have received importance and recognition by businesses.

One thing I want to erase is the suffering that the daily wage labourers underwent owing to the pandemic, and the job loss that hit many by no fault of theirs.

HR has shown great agility and business acumen

COVID-19 has led and accelerated one of the greatest workplace transformations of our times. Amidst the turbulence, organisations are rediscovering their sense of purpose. In the process, HR played a significant role in fighting against the biggest ‘human fear’ — contamination. Organisations witnessed what HR can deliver to the business by focussing on the three important pillars — employee health and safety, business continuity, and commitment to the customer.

Our recent internal assessment suggests that 22 per cent of the workforce needs to be entirely re-skilled, and 61 per cent needs to be partially reskilled to continue in the current roles.

In many organisations, the unsung heroes of HR became super heroes by managing complex challenges, such as mobility of people, MHA guidelines, human fears, social distancing, engaging field and work-from home employees, mobilising new workforce to tap into the newer business channels and more.

Human resources is emerging as a business partner, and the ongoing pandemic is only accelerating this further.

Right skill gaps or reskilling

While we know that 2020 changed the way we live and work overnight, we don’t know how the subsequent health and economic crises will evolve and what mindset changes will arise. However, one thing is very certain: to emerge successfully from the current crisis, organisations and employees will need to build and nurture digital, cognitive, social, and emotional adaptability and resilience. These are fundamental skills, irrespective of an employee’s role, and companies can consider them as ‘no-regret’ investments.

Our recent internal assessment suggests that 22 per cent of the workforce needs to be entirely re-skilled, and 61 per cent needs to be partially reskilled to continue in the current roles.

Upskilling leadership or diversity in leadership

Both upskilling and bringing diversity at leadership levels are equally challenging and critical. Leaders will be tested, and therefore, must upskill to prepare for this shift by navigating new social norms and blind spots.

Shift of talent calculus to more buy-and-rent and less build

The shift will be more towards buy, borrow and bounce than build. In my opinion, the ownership of building capabilities and being relevant in the talent market is more on the individuals than the organisations.

Getting employees out of the pandemic fatigue

Managing pandemic fatigue is one of the biggest challenges that we face in 2021. Organisations must actively channelise the workforce’s energy, nurture the quality of employee relationships, and demonstrate a capacity for resilience to recharge the organisation during these testing times.

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