April 20, 2021 by Satabdi Mukherjee

5 ways in which COVID-19 has impacted HR Practices


5 ways in which COVID-19 has impacted HR Practices


The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the way we work on its head. HR leaders have been forced to pivot to long-term remote work without preparation. HR policies and practices have had to be changed or updated almost overnight to embrace “the world’s largest WFH experiment.

Most organizations have extended support to their remote employees in the form of flexible working hours, technical support, and digital collaboration tools and platforms. HR teams have created standard operating procedures (SOP) to clearly define roles, responsibilities, and best practices for remote work.

Let’s take a look at 5 ways in which HR practices during COVID-19 are being redefined:

1. Focus on employee engagement

Companies have adapted to a fully remote workplace to preserve business continuity. It has been a test of resilience since there was no prior intimation of such a huge change.

Consequently, HR practices during COVID-19 have focused on:

  • Employee engagement through individual regular check-ins
  • Virtual team bonding activities and virtual watercooler sessions
  • Clear benchmarks for productivity and performance
  • Making employees feel heard through frequent all-hands meetings

KPMG in India’s COVID-19 HR Practices Survey Report found that 75% of organizations had restructured their communications strategy to increase engagement of employees. Two most-used engagement practices are HR e-connect calls and leadership connect/calls.

HR-based apps will improve the employee experience by tracking each stage in the employment life cycle.

2. Physical and emotional wellness

The pandemic has put a spotlight on mental health because of the intense stress, anxiety, and fear faced by employees.

Certain innovative HR practices during COVID-19 have evolved to gauge the emotional well-being of employees:

  • Online counselling through well-being helpline
  • Activity tracking apps or tools to encourage physical movement
  • Virtual yoga or exercise sessions for employees and their families
  • Wellness radio talk shows
  • Virtual 5K run

It’s heartening to note that 90% of Indian companies have introduced at least one well-being initiative for their employees.

Extended hours of work from home are also causing burnout and physical ailments like back pain and neck pain.

HR leaders understand that simply offering a laptop enabled with collaboration tools is not enough. To help employees set healthy work-life boundaries, HR departments are considering the following options:

  • Flexible working hours for parents of young children
  • Staggering employee shifts
  • Training line managers to handle a flexible workforce
Flexible working hours can be tracked and evaluated using KPIs such as productivity, retention, and engagement.


3. Hiring tech-savvy talent

Now that there are no geographical constraints on recruitment, the talent pool has widened.

Organizations prefer tech-savvy talent who can collaborate online effectively. Virtual assessments and interviews are becoming the norm due to the risk attached to travel.

Employee background screening is tighter now because of the heightened risk of internal fraud due to reduced managerial oversight.

An unfortunate effect of the pandemic has been the drop off in contractual, part-time, or gig opportunities as companies look to support minimal staff.

4. Restructured benefits and leaves

Companies now realize the benefits of investing in HR digitalization and the need to tweak leave policies to support their remote workforce.

  • Large companies like Google and Twitter are offering “wellness day-offs.
  • Flipkart offers “Covid Care Leaves” where affected employees can take up to 28 days of paid leave.
  • Most companies offer 14 days of sick leave if a family member gets infected.

Contactless attendance systems using facial recognition have replaced biometric thumbprint ones.

5. Use of artificial intelligence and data analytics

Interestingly, AI-enabled pulse surveys are being used by some companies to capture employee well-being.

The changing role of HR in COVID-19 has driven the need for access to real-time data.

  • HR needs to report in a timely manner to upper management.
  • Employees should be kept aware of COVID-19 hotspots and first responder contact details.
  • HR should be able to respond quickly to a service request to avoid delays.
  • HR also needs to be aware of news and rumours circulating in various channels to address misinformation and PR issues.


Industry experts predict that remote work will continue even after the pandemic ends, perhaps as a hybrid workplace. Thus, long-term sustainability will be dictated by HR remaining agile and adopting digital practices to keep businesses streamlined.

Perk Online Payroll Free Trial