International HR is complicated at the best of times, with legislation, market practice and employee expectations sometimes varying significantly from country-to-country.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only enhanced these complications, with legislation being hastily introduced and a vast amount of new engagement challenges arising from extended remote working.
However, our IRIS HR Consulting service has been operating at 110%, ensuring our clients’ processes are always compliant and that they’re appropriately engaging with their employees.
To get a greater understanding of how we’re helping businesses look forward with confidence, we spoke with our Senior Consultant, Chris Welsh.
Firstly, what has COVID-19 meant for businesses?
As you can imagine, COVID-19 has focussed peoples’ minds on some different issues.
From the employee’s perspective, they have been asked to either temporarily stop work or continue under very different circumstances.
And employers have been forced to consider how they can ensure their staff continue to function in their roles but under new conditions with some challenging factors.
How has COVID-19 impacted our consultancy service?
One of the most obvious and broad challenges that our corporate clients and their employees have quickly needed to come to terms with was homeworking.
The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the gradual drift that we have seen over time, away from the common expectation that staff need to work from a central office location.
Our clients have faced an array of logistical challenges when getting all their home-offices up and running, which cannot be underestimated, and we truly empathise with that.
To support, we have been engaging with our clients on how they can manage the impact of that homeworking change on their people, helping them adapt to managing remote teams.
Our consultancy service has also:
- Helped them recognise and deal with the anxieties that staff are having
- Refocused the training of people managers
- Highlightedrelevant health and safety issues and ultimately helping our clients to understand when and how they might either furlough or lay off in various territories
- Helped our clients to understand when and how they might either furlough or lay off in various territories
Has the pandemic shifted our customers’ demand?
Yes, we’ve seen a lot of customers look to address their employees’ changing perspectives on benefits.
This has involved both implementing new programs and where we can, targeting the more effective use of benefit features which might already exist.
Sadly, it has also meant that even younger generations in the workforce who typically wouldn’t be interested in life insurance are now starting to show interest.
These benefit trends have been noticeable over several years, but COVID-19 and lockdown have made people think very deeply about getting their work and home-lives into balance.
Also, issues that have needed addressing are factors such as mental health, physical health and wellbeing in general, all of which are known to impact performance at work.
We have seen an escalation in the trend for utilising Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), which act as a free, confidential 24/7 counselling service, dealing with a range of topics, including:
- Lifestyle/health coaching
- Virtual doctor schemes
- Financial wellness support
Have new legislation and support schemes impacted the service?
Yes, I can think of very few clients who haven’t used our International HR Consulting service to help them understand what changes to rules and regulations in territories across the globe mean for them.
We have also supported some of our clients directly with these new processes. But each case is different, and some are just looking for a steer where we guide them towards the relevant resources.
How is our IRIS HR Professional software supporting clients throughout the pandemic?
Part of our role as HR consultants is to help our clients effectively manage the scarce resources to which they have access.
Throughout COVID-19, where the economic environment is uncertain, this has been more important than ever.
Our clients have therefore found our IRIS HR Professional software to really be a great benefit because it enables them to more efficiently manage their global workforce by automating administration and thereby reducing risk and saving costs.
And at the same time, they tell us that it has enabled them to concentrate on other equally critical areas of the business, which might otherwise have been neglected.
Do you have any advice for the future?
As individuals, we have all learnt some hard facts over this last year, and as more aspects change, we all should rightly review our actions.
This is equally so with our corporate clients. Some of the major projects they will have put off may well move forward but with new economic realities, different working practices and radically changed benefit demands it’s unlikely that the details of those projects will remain unaffected.
We foresee an important need for International HR Consulting, supporting new strategic thinking while also helping implement the change those reviews suggest.
We must effectively embrace these changes as they bring great opportunity for growth. And of course, failure to factor in a post-COVID landscape means at best, you stay standing still.
For more information on our consultancy solutions, click here, or give us a call on 1-800-935-0895.