Coronavirus & the Changing Landscape of WFM

COVID-19 has forced organizations around the world to make unexpected adjustments to their business plans. One of the most immediate changes was a massive shift to remote workforces. As a result, HR management teams needed to find new ways to support remote work. According to a Sapient Insights Group 2020–2021 HR Systems Survey, 35% of participants said at least 50% of their workforce will continue to work from home as restrictions ease.

Here we look at how COVID-19 has impacted investments in workforce management technology and how it impacts what we consider workforce norms.

HR Technology Investment

While the survey found 15% of organizations plan to decrease their traditional HR technology spend by as much as 23%, 28% plan to increase their investments in nontraditional HR technology. This investment will focus on supporting new infrastructures based on work from home workforces. A change in “work norms” is increasing demand for HR management technology with companies investing in solutions despite the negative impact the pandemic has had on the economy.

A Shift from Talent Attraction Systems

When we look back at the technology HR departments were investing in pre-pandemic, a survey by Gallagher showed a focus on talent attraction systems. By 2020, investments shifted to a new interest in payroll, time-keeping, employee communications and performance management systems, again pointing to a new workforce norm of remote work. 

Collaborative Platforms

HR workforce management software has always provided valuable tools, efficiencies and solutions for HR departments. However, the growing interest in collaborative platforms that improve employee/manager communication in hand with portals that provide easy access to tools such as self-guided benefits, or time management are the platforms organizations depend on now.

These remote workforce platforms can assist with:

  • Scheduling and payroll accuracies
  • Improving integrated systems that support remote workers and HR/payroll teams
  • Managing multiple databases to avoid double entry errors
  • Clearly defined operational workflows
  • Introducing consistent remote worker policies
  • Defining potential changes to roles
  • Tracking performance
  • Assigning duties
  • Measuring productivity
  • Providing career guidance, promotion, and training
  • Reducing cybersecurity risks
  • Improving compliance with information access restrictions and authorization
  • Helping employees maintain work/life balance

These mission-critical tools support remote teams while empowering management both on-site and working from home to remain in contact with employees to both support teams and oversee productivity.

Remote Recruitment and Onboarding

Talent Management was also made easier with technology focused on remote recruitment and onboarding. While many companies faced layoffs, others still had to deal with daily demands of hiring. As a result, technology making the hiring and onboarding process possible remotely became an important tool. 

Onboarding software allows organizations to easily tackle onboarding paperwork, payroll setup, employee database records and benefits administration information without placing demand on HR. It automates workflows from one stage to another for common hiring protocols such as background checks. 

However, new hires also experience a streamlined onboarding process with self-guided online training and onboarding processes. Not only does this allow the entire process to be managed remotely, but also reduces the need for employee time and interaction for training and orientation.

Supporting COVID-19 Initiatives

Another area HR technology assisted throughout the pandemic was protecting workforces and maintaining compliance to changing onsite protocols. Communication tools allow organizations to inform employees in real-time of issues such as outbreaks, tracking shifts and knowing what staff members are at risk for infection. 

This critical information can be shared immediately to make the shutdown process quicker while also informing employees when testing might be required. The Sapient Survey also found technology played a key role in alerting senior leaders to employee concerns, engagement, and wellness without the need for further investment.

Existing Talent Management Investments

Sapient also discovered a very noteworthy trend when it came to existing investments in talent management. Organizations already using talent management technology were prepared to manage the hard tasks of workforce management such as changes to compensation, furloughs, and layoffs. They had records that allowed them to review their talent and mobilize them to new roles due to the unexpected demands of the pandemic. 

These organizations could redefine their goals and refocus their efforts more easily than companies that did not already have talent management software in place. Instead, these companies saw lower outcomes in making difficult workforce decisions resulting in more widespread layoffs and reduced salaries. These results demonstrated the importance of talent management investment for organizations.

The pandemic has taught HR professionals the importance of using technology as a key part of workforce planning, not just management. With talent management software in place, managers can make informed decisions that drive success and maintain key performers who help drive the business forward. However, workforce management software in general addresses all aspects of remote work, providing a cohesive tool that allows organizations to remain proactive, responsive and productive.

About The Author

Ingrid Principe

Ingrid is the Content Marketing Manager at Paypro, managing both inbound and outbound marketing initiatives for the company. She has 15+ years’ of extensive marketing communications experience, leveraging brand awareness and strategic partnerships to increase sales revenue for a diverse group of B2B brands.

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