December 17, 2020

New Year’s Resolutions for HR Teams in 2021

With 2020 thankfully behind us, many of us will be making our New Year’s Resolutions. So, what resolutions should HR be making?

There is no doubt that we’re all crossing our fingers for a return to a normal life, both at work and at home in 2021. However, with lots of companies realising that many, or in some cases all, of their employees can work efficiently from home, what does that mean for HR?

With this in mind, here are a few New Year’s Resolutions that we think will help you set the right tone for 2021. Enjoy!

1. Help Homeworker Wellbeing and Engagement

What does that mean in practice? Do you really know how your employees are coping with working at home on a permanent basis? Have you even asked the question?

Many homeworking employees may still be feeling they are under pressure to be sitting at their laptops from 9 to 5 every day. They may not want to move away from the laptop in case they miss a call from their manager or a client. It’s down to HR to ensure that managers don’t put undue pressure on their team to be on hand every minute of the day.

Another cause of stress for homeworkers could be the number of Teams/Zoom meetings they are expected to join. Do you have a team meeting every day? Is this something that you did when everyone worked in the office? If ‘yes’ then that’s fine, but if you didn’t do this, why do you need to do it now? Is it caring for their welfare or micro-managing? Unnecessary meetings can have a big impact on your team in terms of the time taken which could be used more effectively, especially if your team is busy. This can also have an impact on their mental health in terms of the stress of having to attend daily meetings when they are too busy to do so. In the long-term, this could lead to stress-related absences and is counter-productive in terms of employee engagement.

You also need to be mindful that some of your team may have had a traumatic experience due to COVID-19; maybe a family member or close friend has been seriously ill or even lost their life during the pandemic.

The 4th February 2021 is Time to Talk Day, shining a light on mental health. This might be the right time to advertise and promote this and think about how you can get your team involved in this, even if it’s just talking to their colleagues about the difficulties they have faced or are facing.

2. Ensure Returning Employees are Safe in the Work Environment

Unless you work in a ‘key’ industry, some of your workers may have been put on furlough throughout the pandemic.

Although no-one ever expected the pandemic to span this long, we’re now into the tenth month, which means that many workers have had ten months on reduced pay. Whilst some would have been able to manage on the lower amount, there are many where this may have caused them financial problems.

Then we have the many families facing the stress of trying to cope with working at home and looking after their children. Again, a very stressful environment at times, if not all the time.

When you are planning on getting people back into work, you need to ensure they will be returning into a safe environment.

If you are doing a phased return, look at those who may be under the most stress at home and see if they can be the first ones brought back in. Of course, there may be some employees who would willingly volunteer to be the first back, and this may be the way to go for you. You may also have the problem of some employees not wanting to come back because they don’t feel safe.  Where possible, try to get others into the workplace first so that these people can see that it’s safe.

If you’re wondering how to make your workplace safe, read our blog on how to safely re-open work premises.

Where you have one, remind your employees that they have access to an Employee Assistance Programme – this can give confidential help on anything from finances to neighbour disputes.

3.  Encourage Everyone to take their Holidays

For many companies, the 1st of January is the beginning of their new holiday year. Although some employees will have taken holiday whilst on furlough or working from home, there may be some employees who have carried a lot of untaken holiday forward to this new holiday year.

You will need to plan by looking at how many employees have carried holidays forward and the number of days they have each carried forward. Remember, these days are in addition to their normal holiday entitlement for the new year.

For most companies, holiday that is carried forward must be taken by a specific date, normally within the first three months of the new holiday year. However, with the pandemic still being prevalent, it may not be possible for people to actually go away on holiday in this timeframe, so you may want to extend this period.

Where you have a lot of employees who have carried holiday forward, you may have to allocate some holidays for specific times in the year, maybe when you know you are normally not as busy, so that everyone isn’t trying to take holiday at the same time. The easiest way of dealing with this is to make sure that your employees know how many days they have to take and set out that at least 75% of their holiday must be booked by a certain date.

Even where your holiday year begins in April, the above measures are a very useful way of managing holidays throughout the year, ensuring that everyone isn’t asking to take the same time off.

4.  Focus on Good Communication

Communication is the key to ensuring your employees understand what you require of them and how they can meet these requirements without causing aggravation. Be open with what you expect, and don’t forget to tell your employees how the business is doing. The security of peoples’ jobs is always extremely important, but in the current situation, it’s more important than ever.

Employees must know they are valued and supported by you – it’s vital for their morale. So, even if it’s just a ‘thank you for your help during these difficult times’ or ‘we appreciate your continued efforts during the lockdown’; it will make all the difference.

Happy New Year!

 

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About the author

Elaine Pritchard

About the author

Elaine Pritchard

Elaine has a wealth of knowledge in producing contracts, training materials and other documentation as well as training other consultants. She piloted a scheme whereby she went on-site to act as a client’s HR Manager two days per week, whilst the post-holder was on maternity leave. Elaine also previously ran her own retail business for seven years, employing four people. Elaine is a field based consultant for Moorepay and provides on-site HR and Employment Law advice, consultancy and training services to our clients.

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