We held our latest HR leader’s virtual round table on June 4th, continuing with our theme of Workplace Readiness in a Covid 19 world and just days ahead of the Governments Phase 2 on June 8th. We subsequently welcomed the restrictions being eased and many ahead of the Governments original planned timings.
On June 4th last, we were pleased to virtually host HR leaders from a cross section of industries including a tech business expanding into Cork, a multinational FMCG business in Cork, an e-signature technology multinational in Dublin, a business process outsourcing business with locations across Ireland, a global funds services business located in Cork and a national cleaning services business and our own global head of HR at Morgan McKinley was in attendance to share further insights.
You can read the article from our previous HR leader’s event here https://www.morganmckinley.com/ie/article/workplace-readiness-latest-insights-hr-leaders-ireland
The Insights that emerged during our online event:
- No one size fits all approach. Return to work protocols are differing from country to country. For e.g. in the APAC region social distancing is less enforced whereas temperature checking, and the mandatory wearing of face masks is more common practice
- Our Global head of HR outlined the findings from our own return to work internal survey and last week we saw 40 of our 290 Morgan McKinley people in Ireland return to our offices across Ireland, based on their personal request to do so which we supported with all safety protocols in place.
- Mental health and wellness was a topic of discussion as HR leaders recognised the workplace looks so different coupled by many stressful factors associated with working from home with many HR leaders agreeing that the psychological effects of the past 3 months in lockdown are yet to be fully seen.
- We addressed many questions of “how do you cope when more people want to return to work when you don’t have the space? “and “How do your people feel about returning to work?” Overall facilitating a choice to return to work was most important whilst ensuring safety, so discussions played out about rotating teams and different shift patterns to allow more people to return to the office but over a staggered period to maintain social distancing protocols.
The discussion moved on to all the Risk and Governance concerns with a virtual workforce in operation.
- Many HR leaders agreeing that with a workforce working from home for far longer periods of time, it was imperative to ensure people have an adequate workspace, but this was going to be difficult to police remotely.
- To address this Companies are creating their own work from home policies, many ahead of the curve issuing such documents already to their people to include best practice when working from home, correct use of equipment and work from home tips. All did agree there was concern about work forces who remain at home for the foreseeable future and how that transition will need to be managed.
Our attention was then brought to a survey conducted by the Whitaker Institute http://whitakerinstitute.ie/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Remote-Working-National-Survey-Report-May-2020.pdf that outlined 83% of respondents want to work from home in some capacity going forward.
- The Covid19 pandemic has undeniably proven the effectiveness of working from home for some organisations and there will be increasing pressure from its people to facilitate some working from home going forward. Our own Morgan McKinley survey has some interesting findings and predictions in a Post Covid 19 workplace. https://www.morganmckinley.com/ie/article/majority-businesses-ireland-took-20-hit-revenue-predict-comeback
Popular throughout our discussion was learning from each other and the varying practices or measures being introduced from company to company, live examples discussed were;
- One HR leader outlined the measures they have introduced in the last number of months to support their people working from home for e.g. a €1,000 WFH allowance to be spent at the worker’s discretion to support their work from home set up, many choosing to buy iPads for their children or ergonomically designed work stations. Like many, this business also recognised the anxiety and stress their people were experiencing during the last few months and decided to grant two weeks extra leave to their workers to spend with family.
- One HR leader stressed the importance of adopting the right language when discussing WFH situations with it’s people, highlighting that many can be carers in the home and not just working parents and to keep it as broad as possible to allow for varying situations from person to person.
- The importance of managing expectations and a worker’s productivity was discussed and many agreeing communication and supportive leadership was key to ensuring work productivity was unaffected with all companies offering flexibility in working times to get through workloads.
Before concluding our event, we discussed how each business was addressing their recruitment needs and Virtual hiring remains an ongoing topic in our discussions.
- We learned of one business who has hired 460 people across EMEA in the last 3 months, all by virtual means and in many cases reducing the time to hire and speeding up the selection process as candidates are more readily available to take video calls at home during lunch breaks etc...it seems certain steps in the virtual hiring process will remain post Covid 19 such as early screening calls, assessments or first interviews.
- The new way of hiring brought up the question of flexibility and how realistic is it to hire people for Irish locations and have them work in a country outside of Ireland? Many HR leaders agreeing that from a corporate tax perspective this would raise concerns when the role is costed to be based in Ireland. Many HR leaders agreeing it could only be for a short period of time until travel restrictions are lifted and the worker would then need to be based in Ireland
Concluding our June 4th session, it was clear Covid 19 measures and practices will be with us for some time both in the workplace and outside, while we learn to live beside the Coronavirus and adhere to all protocols to reduce transmission. The acceleration of the Governments phases is a welcomed development with many agreeing it would encourage recovery.
We will continue to share our market insights from our next HR leadership discussion as we prepare to work through a phased return to work. Should your business need any advice on hiring during the current market don't hesitate to contact me, we would be pleased to support.