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Desperate Times - Desperate Measures: An HR perspective

Once again, we managed to bring together key leaders within the service center industry to start a conversation about the sector’s present and future – But this time, the focus was on HR.

Firstly, we would like to thank our attendees for having the time and dedication to participate in the Chatroom:
  • Krisztina Horváth – HR Leader, FrieslandCampina EMEA SSC
  • Krisztina Pusztai - HR Manager, Eaton
  • Márta Berzsenyi - Director of Human Resources, Avis Budget Group Business Services Center
  • Gabriella Zaharia - Head of HR, Tata Consultancy Services
  • Monika Slomska – Managing Director, Knowledge Pyramid Kft.
  • Frido Diepeveen - Managing Director, Diepeveen & Partners Kft.
  • Emese Pataki - Senior Business Consultant, Knowledge Pyramid Kft.
  • Katalin Lányi - Senior Consultant, Diepeveen & Partners Kft.
  • Gergely József Tóth - Business and Recruitment Coordinator, Knowledge Pyramid Kft.

Home Office: Psychological, social, and performance-related effects

“Home is where the heart is” – a famous proverb, the meaning of which is that home will always be the place where one’s loved ones are, no matter the place. Recently, service centers’ enaction of mandatory HO (home office) rules resulted in staff being able to spend more time in their own home environment. Our attendees unanimously agreed that even though HO has always been held in high regards by employees, the effects of mandatory HO were not as anticipated.

To explain, the HR leaders attending divided the “HO-adaptation” process into two phases.  The first phase, dubbed as the “Honeymoon-phase” by our participants, was characterized by overwhelmingly positive emotions, which led to higher satisfaction and staff performance in the short run. During the so-called second phase cracks in employees’ work-life balance started to appear, and leaders were becoming more and more desperate to engage staff. The loss of personal interaction between team members quickly became a catalyst for organizing additional meetings to preserve team integrity across organizations and to decrease workplace anxiety.

HR Leaders’ impressions and performance goals

Despite all the hardships, challenges and exhaustion characterizing the last 8 weeks, our attendees agreed that being a leader in the HR field was a highly gratifying experience. HR Leaders had to face a multitude of challenges: Maintaining the efficiency of inductions, charting up strategies dedicated to “reenergizing” employees, dealing with hiring-freezes and the pandemic in general. Nevertheless, leaders and HR teams were forced to adopt an even more creative “out of the box” mindset than before, since there was no available “operations playbook” – many situations could not be resolved by turning to conventional Business Continuity Plans. A stricter way of working together developed, since the bonds between employees strengthened as a result of the crisis.

For many firms, spring-season is tied to the initiation of their own performance management cycle. Our participants agreed that goal setting is pivotal for employees to realise their potential, even during times of uncertainty. It was highlighted that talented employees should make use of the current circumstances to differentiate themselves – now is the time to shine. However, depending on employees’ previous experience in managing change, setting goals may be difficult for some.

It was also mentioned that the presence of workplace anxiety is at an all-time high due to the coronavirus-induced recession. Understandably, a large portion of the workforce clings to its employment and through it to financial security. A lot of these employees, emphasized by our attendees, are simply “not there” mentally when it comes to their duties – peoples’ fears inhibit them from voluntarily changing employment, or entering into conflicts they would normally enter in, the aftermath of which shall only manifest itself months from now.

The recruitment market of the future

It was agreed by our attendees that the entire mandatory HO debacle is, in the end, a huge win for the service center industry. It was shown that the industry is capable of swift and monumental change when necessary. The need for virtual jobs is bound to increase in the future, which will most definitely result in hiring practices that were previously not accepted. Obtaining access to previously uncharted talent pools will enable firms to better optimize when it comes to costs (ex: office space) now that the geographical barrier is “eliminated”.

However, there are limitations. The legal environment and its rulings for such an employment practice done on a larger scale is still not refined. In addition, virtual jobs are not expected to account for an overwhelming majority of positions, simply because personal interactions, inherently a human necessity, boost creativity.  The surging importance of efficient gap management in today’s crisis may also be better addressed with the widening of the accessible talent pool.

All in all, the key characteristics of the “HR of the future” can be given as the following: Flexibility, a higher emphasis on HR’s proactive support functionality, and creativity.