What has been the effect of the pandemic on the importance of HR in an organisation?
From where I see hiring was mostly frozen and there was a lot of restructuring of organisations to reduce cost - a lot of people were let go.
Then why are there so many articles on the web about how the COVID 19 pandemic has changed the importance of HR.
Particularly an article I read said "Should HR be rebranded as Productivity & Ethics?"

Pandemic is a crisis situation affecting both the industry and the employees of all levels. Therefore, the role of HR becomes more important to advise the management to tide over the difficulties in a very tactful manner without giving room for statutory and ethical violations. Particularly, the restrictions imposed in the wake of country wide lock down which affect mobility and employment of people, the morale of the employees would be very low and financial flow to the company would be at stand still. Thus the situation requires the HR to play a vital role.
From India, Salem

Agree with Umakanthanji, HR has in fact played a very important and intense role in managing the crisis in most companies that were shaken up because of the pandemic. Some have gone into financial crisis and have had to let go of so many people - and some have had to grow tremendously in a very short span of time to cope with the demand. The confusion with laws changing and dealing with employees who were suddenly no longer sure about what to expect.
The role and intensity of what the HR is expected to handle probably did become much more important than it ever was in India (and probably many other countries) - they are like the "coach team" of any team sport - the team that manages, helps grow, helps skill, helps counsel the whole organizational team.
The other part which will also become an integral part of HR is probably managing the mental health of employees - this is also a very important aspect that isn't given enough focus by companies in India.

From India, Gurgaon
Regarding the question finally raised in the post, individual and team productivity of employees are bound to decrease considerably due to the shop floor restrictions like limited shift workings, maintenance of social distancing etc., imposed on the manufacturing sector where work from home is not possible, the monotony and lack of social interaction imposed by the WFH arrangement, restricted movement of raw materials and finished products due to transport curbs and eventual cost escalation affecting the supply chain, homeward migration of large no of inter-state and intra-state migrant workers and the like. Therefore, the ultimate problem for the managements becomes maintenance of productivity level commensurate with the degree of the negative impacts created by the continual lock down due to the intermittent spread of the Covid-19 virus simultaneously across the different parts of the globe. Pandemic anywhere has thus become the problem everywhere.

Here comes the pro-active role of HR people guiding the top management to take business policy decisions befitting the pandemic scenario likely to last for some more quarters, possible reductions in human resource costs, temporary stalling of tempting but risky expansion programs and effectively coordinating with the line managers in their manpower planning and production scheduling. Thus the situation under the epidemic has inevitably culminated into a syndrome of performance and productivity issue everywhere despite the nature of the industry. Particularly it has become a cul-de-sac in air transport industry leaving thousands of highly paid employees jobless.

Therefore, I would prefer to answer the query affirmatively only. Only those HR managers having a bird's eye view of the epidemic scenario, thorough understanding of the business of the establishment and a legal bent of mind with compassion can play their roles effectively in the present context.

From India, Salem

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