As the UK economy emerges from the Covid pandemic, many employers will be turning their attention to formalising work patterns for the new ‘normal’.
Whether this is a remote, office-based or hybrid model, it will largely involve communicating with staff to set out new working practices and redesigning workspaces to adhere to health and safety and social distancing protocols.
But, notwithstanding the unprecedented challenges faced by organisations over recent months, this next phase of unlocking recent lockdowns could be another daunting prospect for business owners and staff alike.
City Skills Tutor Jim Blythe looks at the role HR will play in helping businesses to recover and get their people back into the office.
“HR, like so many other things in business is changing. Fuelled by Covid, virtual or remote working has been essential for a lot of people, but now we’re getting the call to come back into the office and that will also present a number of challenges. Some people don’t want to work in the office and see no real reason why they should because they can work just fine from home. Some people are still on the vulnerable list, are shielding or caring for other vulnerable people. This is making a lot of CEOs uncomfortable because they want their staff back in the office.
“HR teams are somewhere in the middle, trying to sort through individual situations, unpicking specific problems and mediating between parties. There are an awful lot of skills needed within the HR function.
We are starting to see some new rulings on the COVID fallout and businesses are under pressure to ensure they have done everything right, have the right processes and safeguards in place. Providing you can show you have followed Government guidelines, you are probably ok, but things will continue to change. We know currently the question of choosing to vaccinate or not is a hot employment topic and we are all waiting to see how that precedent plays out.
HR teams need to stay sharp, keep abreast of what’s going on and how the world continues to change. By the time you get the ruling from the court, potentially you’ve already breached the new law.
Learning on the job might seem daunting but apprentices are taught the very latest in HR law, theory and are able to put this into practice at work on a daily basis, ensuring they are always using the latest legislation.
Jim continues, “We always have the topic of the week for whatever it is that we’re covering, but if anything big comes up that we feel an apprentice needs to know, we are able to discuss that too. This way we can make sure they are aware of small changes can discuss ways of applying legislation with peers – we can talk about rulings and make it relatable.”
“These discussions then build the foundation for the apprentice’s self-learning. In reality, most of the topics within HR – certainly the knowledge criteria are things the apprentices could read up on and familiarise themselves with quite happily.”
“Of course, then the tutor is able to add further value. We can talk more about the application and certain standpoints in a contextualised manner.”
For some lockdown – and the move to remote working -has been lonely, restrictive and worrying, while others are happy to say they have enjoyed time at home with families. For many, work still starts and finishes in line with traditional working hours, while for others, without the daily commute enjoy more flexibility and start and finish early.
In general, people have learned how to balance their work and family commitments in ways that are easiest and most productive for them. Either way, it’s important to recognise what a return to office work might mean for each individual and how best to support them in or out of the workplace.
City Skills HR apprenticeships are a way to upskill an HR team ensuring they know and understand how to apply the latest legislation. This way HR can make this transition back to work a little smoother for your team.