Human Resources Professional Association members plan amidst new COVID-19 realities

Toronto, Ontario, June 04, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today, the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) released the results of its second COVID-19 member survey. Representing dozens of sectors and industries, 1,127 respondents revealed that HR professionals are actively planning return to work and the majority said they anticipate significant change throughout the workplace. Respondents confirm the first wave of employees returning to work is happening fast with the majority of organizations starting the process within the next three months.

Looking at return to work trends in Ontario, HR professionals shared the following:

  • 86% have started to plan for employees to return to work
  • 89% plan to recall employees who were temporarily laid off as a result of COVID-19
  • 53% expect to have all of their employees back in the primary workplace within six months
  • 38% of workplaces are planning permanent restructuring as a result of COVID-19

Louise Taylor Green, CEO, HRPA said, “HR professionals have been front and center in supporting their workplaces and employees through the most significant workforce disruption in modern times. Workplaces will fundamentally change and the ‘new normal’ will require a total reset in HR practices and policies.”

Of respondents, 81% have been very involved in their organization’s return to work planning process.  This includes physical changes to the workspace, new infection prevention and control measures, changes to shift schedules and hours of work, along with increased supports for mental health, and toolkits and resources for leaders who now oversee remote teams and are leading people through enormous change.

“The velocity and complexity of change for those in a leadership role is unprecedented.  This period of change has been a remarkable demonstration of professionalism and the value HR professionals bring to organizations.”  

“We see that HR professionals have enabled their organizations to adopt a fundamental mind shift in terms of the viability of remote work, even as teams navigate some major challenges. An astounding 70% of respondents report their perceptions of remote work have changed since the pandemic,”  Taylor Green continued.

Key Takeaways: 

Change will be the new normal: 38% of organizations plan permanent restructuring, including changes to their business model, organizational structure, policies, new workflows, reduction of physical workspaces, downsizing, and the ways people interact. 

--Crises spurs creativity: Respondents contributed many examples for how their organization leveraged their values as a means of retaining and engaging staff and also looking to the future.  Experimentation and agile change have become the new normal with heightened corporate social responsibility actions.

--The 9-to-5 norm is radically changing: A wide array of programs are being put in place including modified work schedules: 25%; flex time: 19%; and rotating shifts: 18%.

--Relationships within unionized workplaces remain stable: For unionized workplaces (31% of total respondents), only 16% found an increase of grievances. Perception of relationships with labour-management has stayed the same (64% positive relationship before COVID-19 and 62% positive currently).

--Work from home is here to stay: 81% of organizations are planning to permanently retain or expand remote working options.

--Supporting working families is a priority: 76% of organizations are planning to make special arrangements to assist their employees as schools and child-care centres remain closed and summer camps are not available.

--Strict health and safety measures are expected: For 80% of organizations, sign-off will be required on any new and/or updated policies or procedures related to health, safety, or hygiene in the workplace prior to returning to work.  Nearly all, 95%, plan to implement or expand the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for employees but the ways in which this need is being met varies. Of these, 91% are prepared to discipline employees for failing to comply.

--Business travel is on hold: 85% of respondents confirm changes to policy and approach to business travel will be in effect, including travel of any kind is postponed indefinitely or, if travel is permitted, it requires approval required from Executives.

Complete survey results are available upon request.


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