How has COVID-19 impacted the consumer goods/services industry or made it harder for HR?
As COVID-19 immediately halted in-person operations and demanded that any business that wanted to stay viable either digitized or moved online, the consumer goods and services industry was dramatically impacted. In an industry that traditionally relied heavily on physical and manual labor, many people found themselves scrambling to learn more technical skills that could help them respond to the new virtual way of working. For HR, this skills gap created a multitude of hiring, training and development challenges as the nature of work - and how to do it - was altered overnight.
These challenges aren't disappearing anytime soon - the future outlook of the consumer good and services industry suggests that it is shifting towards an ongoing and increased need for technical skills, social and emotional skills, and higher cognitive skills - and shifting away from physical and manual skillsets. This means that HR teams will have to prepare for how to identify, attract, develop and retain people with completely new skillsets - or determine how best to adapt their current workforce to the emerging need, as many roles disappear and new ones arise. Given the current existing pain points for HR in this industry - and the future outlook that suggests many of them are here to stay - we’ve compiled a list of key challenges and tips on how to tackle them in 2021.
Key Challenges in the Industry
Transitioning to Digital & Shifting Demands from Consumers
There are two key elements that are influencing or exacerbating the need for enhanced training and development - the changing demands from consumers and the industry transition to digital. As the consumer demands often require new ways of approaching products or services, with these demands come the need for a novel approach to development or delivery. Similarly, as the overall industry becomes more digitized - with supermarkets making the shopping experience virtual, for experience - employees who were once focused on customer service and in-person inventory management may now be shifting their focus towards more technical skills. All of these changes require HR to create a strategic approach to ensuring people are appropriately hired trained in these new skillsets.
Supply Chain Resilience
One of the most immediate and jarring impacts of the pandemic - that began when it was a localized epidemic - was the disruption to supply chains. All over the world, many businesses found themselves unable to access critical products, parts and ingredients. Without a timeline for when factories or similar operations would re-open, employees along the supply chain found themselves in a state of stress and eventual burnout. Naturally, this can lead to not only a loss in profits but a loss in overall employee retention - as their engagement feel and their stress rose. This ongoing challenge requires HR teams to develop ways for building engagement and retention even in the midst of stress and burnout.
Compliance and Regulatory Pressures + Data Visibility
Increasing regulatory pressures, ongoing compliance mandates, and the high visibility of data presents a set of challenges for the broader industry and HR teams as well. Beyond the pressure and scrutiny that can often come with maintaining data in public, the need to respond to these mandates can be both challenging from an administrative standpoint and a personnel standpoint - as communicating the need for and collecting additional data can sometimes be difficult.
Shrinking Operating Margins
As operating margins shrink, executives tend to scramble for solutions. While they may brainstorm creative ideas around new product developments, marketing strategies and more, this can also result in changes to payroll, bonuses and compensation structures - all of which impact HR. Beyond the fact that employees may not welcome the changes, the alterations often require substantial paperwork, administration and potential tax implications.
More employees and customers to manage and additional compliance laws to meet has a direct trickle-down impact on HR. Rather than focusing on compliance at a state or federal level, they may now have to manage compliance for several different countries, ensure that employees and contractors around the world are appropriately documented, and a host of other duties around hiring, training, and developing a global team.
Employee Experience throughout the Transition to Remote Work
While many welcomed the transition to remote work, others found themselves feeling disconnected and isolated from the organization or their peers. Naturally, this impacted - and continues to impact - their engagement, experience and possibly retention. HR has to get creative in order to re-engage these employees, and develop a digitized but holistic solution for ensuring that the employee experience is high-quality from the very first time that an employee makes contact with the organization to well-beyond their departure.
How to Overcome HR Challenges in the Consumer Services Industry
A modern HRIS system - like GoCo - can resolve a number of pain points for HR and operations - freeing up valuable energy and resources for high-level focuses like attracting, retaining and developing the right people.
Onboarding and Retaining New Employees: There's no need to dig through a filing cabinet if you want to re-hire a previous employee when you have a modern HRIS system. GoCo allows you to reactivate original files when hiring, as well as send and sign onboarding agreements and contracts digitally - in addition to letting you know when employees have reviewed policy changes and manuals.
Simplifying Payroll and Time-Tracking: As customers and employees continue to grow throughout the world, a solution that calculates work time flawlessly, helps you pay employees and contractors accurately, and allows you to manage budget and costs will be increasingly critical.
Staying in Compliance: Between the latest IRS regulations, COVID-19 regulations, state and federal withholdings and general employee eligibility documents, HR teams have more than enough compliance related deadlines and tasks to stay on top of. GoCo's intelligent HR compliance solution helps streamline these processes.
Easing Open Enrollment Processes: Benefits administration can become completely digitized - helping you sync payroll, insurance, deductions and much more, and allowing your team to easily log-in and view or manage their own benefits at anytime, from anywhere.