Strategies and Policies Regarding the Human Resources under Pandemic Conditions

Strategies and Policies Regarding the Human Resources under Pandemic Conditions

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Cornelia Tomescu-Dumitrescu

Constantin Brancusi University of Targu Jiu, Romania
From the Edited Volume
Edited By:
Prof. Bhavna Mehta
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Abstract

In order to survive and develop, organizations need to create structures able to anticipate tendencies of economic and social evolution. Therefore, the strategic planning of the organization, the human resources included, represents the most important managerial activity of long run effects. Sadly, the Covid-19 pandemic changed and continues to change the human resources organization. Thus, the organization itself has to assess permanently. The organization needs to assess its own structure, the efficiency of the information and resources, the ability of the organization’s adjustment to the external conditions. The organization has to assess the personnel’s abilities to make use of the new technologies, the capacity of investing in improving and re-training the personnel etc.

Keywords

organizational change, pandemic, personnel strategies, human resources managers

1. Introduction

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic changed and continues to change the human resources organization.
Interestingly, changing in the field of the human resources within the organization encompasses new recruitment and selection procedures, new assessment standards, different approaches of the promotion and motivation. Despite the fact that, the reluctance regarding change is humane, in order to overcome it, the organization needs to take actions.
Therefore, the first and foremost priority of an organization during the pandemic should be the safety and welfare of its employees. The employees cannot focus upon their professional responsibilities if their own and their family’s welfare is endangered. Consequently, the essential issue with which the companies should deal in the beginning of the pandemic is their employees’ safety as well as their availability to accomplish critical tasks.
From the perspective of the personnel strategy in case of pandemic, the companies should pay special attention to the geography of these activities and essential functions as well as to relocate the activities in alternative locations and headquarters.
The companies should put to trial and test the limits of the traditional plans resilience in approaching the pandemic events. Because, during a pandemic, some of the standard strategies as it is the case of transferring the activities in alternative locations, personnel relocation or increasing the number of employees may not represent viable options, because the personnel and alternative locations/ headquarters may incur similarly strong influences.
As for the personnel, the companies have to envisage creating some policies and procedures specific to the pandemic situations. We refer here to developing capacities for the personnel to communicate, organizing the work online and leave for the personal situations regarding their families, so that the activity interruptions reduce at the minimum.
Consequently, under pandemic conditions, the companies should continue to improve working from home or flexible programme.
The alternative workforce represents currently the normal. Therefore, for the companies which would like to grow, in need for employees with important aptitudes, yet difficult enough to find, the employment alternatives have become compulsory.
The organizations may choose to act differently from their competition during COVID-19 pandemic by making use of in-progress tendencies.
As the labour market starts to come back to normality, the candidates will want to know the way in which the companies have dealt with the work force issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the organizations have to balance the decisions currently made in order to settle the immediate worries during the pandemic with the long run impact upon their employment brand, which will extend in the next few years.

2. Body of Chapter

2.1. Organizational Changing During the Pandemic

Interestingly, the organizational changing of the past three decades led to enhancement of the adjustment ability to the environmental conditions; we refer to the management through objectives, participative management, the management of the total quality, strategic planning, communication extension, levelling of the hierarchical structures etc.
Interesting enough, changing in the field of the human resources within the organization encompasses new recruitment and selection procedures, new assessment standards, different approaches of the promotion and motivation. Despite the fact that, the reluctance regarding change is humane, in order to overcome it, the organization needs to take actions.
Generally, pandemics represent an external factor, which, together with the internal factors, influence significantly the leadership of the human resources within the organization, claiming substantial changes.
According to Explanatory Dictionary (DEX), to change signifies to replace one thing with another, to change one person with another (of the same kind), to reshape a thing by giving it another form, another aspect, to transform or to move (Dicţionarul explicativ al limbii române, Ediţia a II-a, 1996).
In this sense, Comanescu considers that “…change, generally, represents an alteration, a transformation or upheaval in form and/ or content of an object, activity or natural product of thought or social” (Comănescu, 2020, p. 290). „The Economist Book – A Strategy” introduces some imperatives for understanding the concept of changing. “Learn to love change. Feel comfortable in the company of your intuition. Make compassion, care, and harmony and trust the cornerstones of your business. Fall in love with the new ideas” (The Economist Book – Strategie, 1998, p. 23).
In the literature we find various opinions on change in the organization and we present some of them in the following.
Interesting enough, Gary Johns (1998), in his book “Organizational Behaviour”, states that change occurs when the aim of a programme or a plan is to move the organization and/ or it members toward a satisfactory condition (Johns, 1998, p. 46).
Moreover, Milan Kubr (1992) presents broadly the aspects of organizational change in “Management Consulting: A Guide to the Profession Hardcover”. Here are these aspects (Kubr, 2005, p. 86):
– Changings regarding the organizational way of companies (juridical status, property form, activity domain etc);
– Changing of the tasks and activities (the denomination of the products or services offered, suppliers, clients and markets);
– Changing in the utilized technology (equipment, technological processes, tools, materials and energy);
– Changing in structures and management processes (the company’s organizational chart, decisional process, informational system, procedures of internal control);
– Changing in the organizational structure (leadership style, influences, values and traditions);
– Changing people (managerial team, execution personnel, expertise, motivations, behaviour and work efficiency);
– Changing of the organizational performance (economic, financial, social, the way the organization integrates within the activity environment and fulfils its mission);
– Changing the image the company/ organization has created in the business circles and in the society.
Linda Ackerman (1986), in her article “Development, Transition or Transformation: the Issue of Changing within the Organization”, pointed out three main types of organizational change. It follows that (Ackerman, 2010, p. 147):
– Changing of the development lies in the improvement of the habits, methods or conditions, which from different reasons cannot satisfy the current expectations;
– Transitional changing referring to implementing a novel and known condition (reorganization, introduction of new services and technologies, processes and systems). Transitional changing may encompass changing the development;
– Transformational changing referring to implementing a new unknown condition because of successive transitional changing. This encompasses walking through both some development changes and some transitional changes.
For instance, Patricia Wilson (1996) compares change with a car driving fast toward our direction. The car has no driver, but we are sure it comes toward us (Wilson, 1996, p. 620).
In the same sense, Mariana Predişcan (2001) claims. “…the organizational change represents the action, the plethora of actions, a process, which aims to alter an organization in part or completely, of its constituents or it processes occurring within it, allowing it to pass from the current condition to the potential desired one, differing from the former quantitatively and/ or qualitatively. The objective of an organizational change is to install a new condition to replace the existent one” (Predișcan, 2001, p. 112).
The authors Burduș and Androniceanu consider that the organizational change encompasses revising and altering the management structure and the business processes (Burduș & Androniceanu, 2000, p. 134). Currently, in the business world there are small companies and great companies. Therefore, these small companies have to look for modalities to accomplish their activities, to act more efficiently and more effectively. In other words, change is necessary for the companies. From this point of view, no fear or opposition should hinder the change.
In or view, the organizational change represents the process, which has as finality to adjust an organization to the environmental conditions, in which it activates by partial or total transformation (Predişcan, 2001, p. 135) of the internal processes and available resources as well as legal and efficient management of the potential risks, associated to the organization environment.
Interesting enough, the dimensions of the change influence decisively the finality of the organizational change. These dimensions may be:
– Significant – non-significant amplitude. It reflects the vertical dimension of the change, the gap created between the old condition and the new one. Nonetheless, the greatest difficulties form the managing point of view are the great changes, which are of major importance, significant and characterized by the employers resistance.
– General – local extension. It reflects the horizontal dimension of change, the degree to which change affects the organization. This dimension is a very important variable because on its magnitude depends the number of individuals disturbed by the proposed change. This dimension represents the most important element of the strategy of reducing the opposition to change.
– Continuity: continuous – discontinuous. It reflects the extent to which the change keeps the connection with the past. Nevertheless, the discontinuous changes are the most difficult to implement in case the affected personnel is not aware of the crisis the organization encounters.
– Staging: gradual – sudden. The change is preferable to produce gradually under natural conditions and suddenly in crises.
– Frequency: singular – repeated. The frequency reflects the reality that change can be a singular event or can repeat with a certain regularity. The singular change creates difficulties because the disturbed personnel can manifest high opposition, as it is not accustomed with such situations. In addition, the efficiency of the managerial team can suffer seriously from the lack of experience in implementing such changes.
– Duration: short – long. There are changes whose implementation can last tens of seconds or years. The short durations are specific to the small amplitude changes, whereas the changes of greater amplitudes require longer durations. Thus, great complexity, greater amplitude and a greater number of employees affected.
– Initiator: I/ we – others. The subordinates can initiate the condition, the mangers, or the owners. The degree of opposition to change depends on both the degree to which the change can affect the initiator and the position of the initiator within the process of change. In case the owners or managers are the initiators, then they should talk to the employees about the implementation manner, in order to alleviate their resistance. On the contrary, whether the change is the employee’s initiative, once they have talked to the managers and owners, their involvement is maximum.
– Perception: positive – negative. The perception influences the implementation of change in a high degree. A change perceived as unnecessary or useless is doomed with failure.
– Surprise: expected change – unexpected change. The surprise is a sensitive factor and one should bear in mind that, generally, the employees do not agree changes; the negative ones are the least agreed. Permanent communication with the employees is the most efficient way.
Interestingly, internal and external factors may influence the organizational change. The studies in the field have shown that the internal factors determining the organizational change may include the business environment, the new technologies, the clients’ demand, the economic conditions, the governmental policies or special events (pandemics, economic crash, crisis).
Even more interesting, the presumed external factors encompass matters, situations or events occurring outside the internal activity environment. They may be external forces, understood as external determiners of a company. When indicating the factors determining the organizational changes, the resistance to change is beneficial to mention. Even though they are rare cases that interpose change.
The external factors derive from the active and evolving organization. Because the organizations are open systems taking their inputs from its environment, transform some of them into, and convey them as outputs as the following factors influence them. Among these factors, we can mention:
– Macro environment or general environment (PEST/ PESTLE);
– Microenvironment or specific environment (customers, competition, suppliers, governmental organizations, mass media etc).
It is important to mention that the internal factors associate with the company itself, leading to their occurrence to the level of the entire organization or to the level of one of its subdivision / subsystem. Nonetheless, they relate closely to the external organizational factors.
World History demonstrates that upon both nature and society, organizations included act permanently contradictory forces, which tend toward balance. One can see the forces we are talking about in Figure 1 (Șendrea, 2017, p. 18), forces which act in opposed directions and whose action one need to balance.

Figure 1. The dynamic balance of change

Source. Șendrea, M. (2017). Factorii determinanți ai schimbărilor organizaționale, Journal “ECONOMICA” nr.2 (100) 2017, p. 16-23

In the following lines, we are going to show the determiners of change, thus the factors justifying the necessity of change. These factors are (Negoescu & Opaiț, 1999, p. 87):
1. The evolution in the technology. Specifically, utilizing new technologies, more and more sophisticated in a tailored manner; complex production equipment; making use of robots and artificial intelligence within the production process; extending the Internet network; emergence of highly performant methods collecting, storing, conveying and utilizing the information, enabling a substantial reduction of costs concomitantly with raising the products and services quality;
2. The evolution of economic factors. The level of income, inflation, taxes, market globalization, economic crises, national and international markets, competition type, the government economic policy, the economic policy of other countries, loan policy and conditions, fluctuation of currency, the constraints of globalization;
3. The evolution of socio-cultural factors. Demography, distribution of income, exchanges in the values and aspirations system, the level of corruption in the country, predominant values, attitudes, convictions, religion, the level of education, business ethics, care for the natural environment, the mobility of the workforce, traditions, mind-set, fashion and mores, health and welfare, life conditions, pandemic (as it is the case of SARS COV 2);
4. The influences of political and legislative factors. The state attitude toward entrepreneurship, laws, regulations, the level of political stability, the country’s foreign policy, the relations between the government and companies, the legislation concerning competition, fiscal system, protection of intellectual ownership, waging, social insurance, work security etc.
5. The impact of ecological factors. Climate, pollution, natural resources
Volatility, uncertainty and complexity of this period, generated by the COVID-19 pandemic bring in discussion the agility of the companies to face a crisis and to get out of the crisis more powerful. When we speak about the manner, the organizations quickly adjust to changes, those produced by a crisis included, first that come in our mind are the IT integrated systems, the way people work in teams.
Change involves these fields more than IT, which is an essential component, yet needs supplementing with a set of objectives, defined, and achievable. Because an organization needs to understand, what is functional and what is not, what is a priority in order to integrate the technologies and gradually remodel the way the employers work, in which create products, services, and sell them, the entire organizational culture, put differently. It follows that planning, management of performance and talents are the most valuable dimensions of the company’s agility.
Unfortunately, pandemic has transformed organizational fundamentally. The way in which we collaborate, we communicate, we anticipate long-term or set short-term goals.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that the management handbooks have not had the opportunity to reconsider the perfect recipe to overcome such a crisis. Therefore, the only way left is to notice attentively what is going on with our companies, what is going on with other companies with which we relate and reflect upon all these experiences, listen to what people say, read articles about good practices on other markets in order to learn as it goes. Especially that the transition to the activities online and making use of digital solutions for information exchange within the team or with the existent or potential clients have happened quickly for many companies, which were not prepared for this step.
On the other hand, pandemic has offered an opportunity to digitalize work, to create access to information and increase the collaboration speed by making extensive use of different free platforms or others, which do not require a great investment. Put differently, digitalization does not mean losing contact among people, but rather enabling work by eliciting paperwork and bureaucracy. It follows that the pandemic has hastened many decisions in these directions.

2.2. Personnel Strategy During the Pandemic

Personnel strategy specifies the direction, objectives and principles for the management of human resources in the enterprise. Well developed personal strategy should include a plan for matching existing potential of employees to the achievement of the long-term objectives of the company.
We find ourselves in an unfortunate situation. The coronavirus creates a huge and stressing experiment in working from home, while this crisis changes the normal way of activities for any company. In other words, management has to adjust for a new working dimension.
Interestingly, the personnel strategies have to focus upon aspects like dynamics of population. Most importantly, the extent of general and special training of the active population, the development strategies of the market – the labour market included, the globalization, enhancing the information access, increasing the number of the multinational productive and commercial societies, enhancing the mobility of employees and altering the institutional, legislative and quality standards.
The personnel strategies have the role to value the employees’ abilities, to keep the performant ones – specialized labour force, to train those with development potential and remove those that do not comply with the requirements.
Whether the major improvement of the performance is at stake, the human resources managers must pass successively the following steps (Sadler, 1995, p. 123):

a) Administrative level (the personnel manage the organization, without preoccupying with its strategic objective);
b) Operational level (the personnel lead the system following the managers’ guidance, without contributing to its development);
c) Strategy implementation (the personnel have the responsibility of implementing the strategic decisions);
d) Creating the strategy (the personnel have the role to participate in making the strategic decisions).
Therefore, strategy is important for the process of attaining the objectives essential for the continuity and predictability (Cascio, 1989, p. 141).
The human resources strategy encompasses change under the conditions of the COVID-19 health crisis. The change refers to new recruitment and selection procedures, new assessment standards, new approaches regarding promotion and motivation. Resistance to change is an important brake element. That is why it is necessary to resize the strategy in the field by:
a) Reducing the resistant forces, which tend to maintain the previous status and the awareness of the needs for the next period;
b) Applying the new functioning mechanism and promoting the new values and attitudes;
c) Establishing the new status.
Rapid spreading of the COVID-19 infections worldwide, made Europe face a health crisis, for whom it strives to find solutions to manage. This is an emergency of public health, WHO being compelled to state pandemic worldwide. This made all the states adopt extreme measures, including measures referring to restraining some rights and liberties.
In this complicated situation, more and more companies experience the undesired effects of the virus spread, especially those implemented by the authorities with the aim of limiting the virus spread. Sadly enough, both the economic agents and the commercial relations feel the crisis impact.
Nevertheless, the question arises, what measures could the employers implement in order to preserve their labour force maintaining the individual work contracts. All these under the conditions they do not have the sufficient funds to back up the technical unemployment for the employees. Moreover, they cannot reduce the work time because the activities themselves restrict to a small number of participants (at first under 1000, then under 100, whereas now there are under 50). All these, under the circumstances that they may not work from home, online working either, associated with the authorities’ recommendations to limit at the maximum the human interactions, recommend self-isolation and if necessary, quarantine.
Notwithstanding, the companies have to have a backup specific plan of policies and procedures for the pandemic, developing a communication capacity among the employers, organizing online working and leaves for the personal/ family matters, so that activity interruption be minimum. Yet, because of long duration, the impact upon the personnel in the regions absorbing supplementary work volume has represented an essential element from the beginning of the pandemic and for many weeks after, when the resources of the contractors may have had an important contribution. The dimension itself may vary and until the present times it has concentrated in certain regions, of global impact; we have never experienced of a pandemic globally, through the possibility has existed.
The Table 1 shows the differences between the traditional interruptions and those caused by the pandemic.

Table 1.

Differences between the rational interruptions and those caused by the pandemic

Dimension Interruptions of the activity Interruptions caused by the pandemic
Scale Localized: affects a certain company, geographical area, unit of production, third party, work force Systemic: affects everybody, employers, customers, suppliers, competition included
Velocity They usually are limited and rapidly isolated after the cause is established, root of the interruption The interruptions spread quickly just like contagion of the markets in a certain geographical region or even globally, with cascading effect
Duration Generally, the interruption lasts less, for instance, a week Lasts longer, even months
Lack of labour force May lead to temporary lacks or repositioning of work force May lead to an essential lack of workforce, rapidly evolving, for example, over half of the total number of employees
External coordination May involve a certain level of coordination with the public authorities, governmental to enforce the law and the medical staff Implică o mai mare coordonare cu autoritățile publice, guvernamentale, de aplicare a legii și de sănătate și pot implica coordonarea cu mai multe jurisdicții regionale
Infrastructure availability Involves basing upon the availability of public infrastructure (for example, the power networks, telecommunications, Internet) in supplementing the primary business strategies May impose constraints and restrictions upon the availability of public infrastructure as the dimension and severity of the event evolves, especially because of the fact that other companies suffer from the same issue

Although some characteristics and effects of the activity interruption caused by natural catastrophes (for example, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunami) may be similar to those caused by pandemic, while a natural catastrophe limits to one geographic area, the pandemic bursts in a certain geographic area and then spreds worldwide.
A pandemic impose to the emplyees to stay at home in order to limit exposure and to prevent or reduce the spreading, which incur online activities. Comparatively to an occasional weather event, which may incur some employees work from a distance, a pandemic may lead to complete shutdown of the organization in a certain area, imposing a great number of employees to work at a distance and bringing forward capacity and overloading or access issues. That’s why the companies have to invest in tools allowing the employees to work remotely and collaborate virtually, assess the current bandwidth to allow online working, periodically test the network under stress conditions and identify alternative solutions for the tasks performed from home. It is important to note that, though online working may be a valid option for the service industry, it is not as valid for the productive sectors and may lead to serious issues for the supply chains.
Most importantly, the companies’ strategies have to identify the suitable answer to the question HOW (How will they be able to attain the objectives? How will they make use the resources at optimum standards? How will employees adjust? How can alternatives be chosen? Etc). Even more importantly, the companies should identify the general modalities to accomplish the established objectives by making use as optimum as possible of the resources.
Any organization acting according to a strategic development plan has to provide an answer for the question “With what businesses we compete?” Alternatively, “How should we compete on the market to be successful?” In the case of human resources strategies, the objectives refer to the companies’ outcome and the efficiency of managing the human resources to obtain attaining the aims.
Therefore, we remind some of the strategy features:
– They have a strong entrepreneurial character (it envisages the development directions);
– They have to maintain the organization active in case the environment conditions change;
– They should make decisions at a certain moment, ideally choose the best time;
– Under crisis conditions, the company should reiterate the old decisions and identify new solutions.
The departure premise in the strategic approach of the human resources is that the role of the human resources management is to keep the organizational conditions at their optimum for enabling attaining performance and ensure the efficiency of making use of the human resources (Milkovich & Boudreau, 1991, p. 98). Within this process, a series of factors interfere. They are external conditions, organizational conditions and employees’ characteristics (Figure 2)
In obtaining the performance and efficiency of the organization, framing the strategies for human resources is an essential condition, which, as one can notice in Figure 1, intervenes within the process. Armstrong, too, enunciates this idea of strategic “pairing” who considers that the key issue for the human resources management is the concept of “pairing” or “integration” (Armstrong, 2001, p. 117). This is because the strategic management is nothing else but a series of provisions for aligning the human resources management to the content of the business strategies.

Figure 2. External conditions, organizational conditions and employees’ characteristics

2.3. Personnel Policies During the Pandemic

The companies have to take into account creating policies and procedures specific for the pandemic, developing some capacities to enable communication among employees, organizing work online and leave in case of personal/ family matters, for minimum interruptions. Because of their duration, the manger should consider the impact upon the personnel in the regions absorbing supplementary work volume is an essential element since the beginning of the pandemic and for few weeks after their inception, when the contractors’ resources may have an important contribution. The dimension itself is variable and until present times, it concentrated upon certain areas of global impact; until currently, we have never experienced a pandemic affecting the whole world, though the possibility has existed.
Consequently, under pandemic conditions, the companies should continue to improve working from home or flexible programme. In the period after lifting the restrictions especially, the companies are important to help their employees in feeling secure. Moreover, the companies should offer the necessary conditions to avoid any danger and encourage them to decide for themselves when and how they can return to their workplaces. Whether, on the contrary, they can go on accomplishing their jobs from home, the companies should ensure this variant, too. Whether they would like to come to their workplaces, the companies should help their employees in re-adjusting to their daily programme by proposing a flexible programme, in this case spend a few hours/ days for the beginning and then gradually, they can reach the programme before the crisis.
The alternative workforce represents currently the normal. Therefore, for the companies which would like to grow, in need for employees with important aptitudes, yet difficult enough to find, the employment alternatives have become compulsory. Thus, under the current conditions, the companies should manage both entrepreneurs and freelancers, because they need to optimize and value efficiently the alternative workforce.
Interestingly, the organizations have to reconsider the workplaces to make use of the advantages offered by the technology, yet without leaving aside the most important cog of the team: the people. This will create special jobs, special workplaces combining the traditional approach with the new one, involving technology.
Most importantly, the leaders should adopt an approach involving pursuing the traditional business objectives. For this reason, the leaders should take into account the new context in order to form these objectives, based on new competences in committing their team as well as the leadership through change, embracing the ambiguity and uncertainty and understanding the cognitive digital technologies based on artificial intelligence.
Depending on the adopted strategies by the organization, one can formulate the policies in human resources domain in different manners and define the relation between the organization and the external environment.
– Define, as philosophy, the relation between employer and organization;
– Establish the objectives concerning the development of the human resources;
– Foresees the activities specifically in what the recruitment, selection, employment and professional integration concerns;
– Confirm the correspondence of the general strategy with the personnel strategy;
– Refer to all the personnel segments, which are transparent for the employees;
– The managers of the organization frame them with the help of all the employees, who manifest interest and competence in the domain.
The human resources policies refer to the employment manner, continuous training, motivation, assessment, salary, but also to the modality the organization removes that part of the personnel who cannot deal with the new technologies and norms or is not motivated to contribute to attaining the common objectives. The personnel policy has to establish the degree of responsibility of the employees, the modality of applying the principle of competence delegation, the modality to attract the employees in making the decisions process, the manner of settling the conflicts, etc.

Figure 3. Strategies and policies

The specialists in human resources state that the policies are predetermined guides of orienting the decision (Wayne et al., 2002, p. 129) As they are more than a set of decisions, the policies present flexibility, require an adequate interpretation and the best judgement in applying them. Many of the performant companies, whose policy is transparent, have managed in convincing the employees to engage in the process of developing them and participate in the decisional procedure. Fully aware employees can find solutions to the issues solved only by their superiors before, thus contributing to shorten the execution deadline of their work and acquiring a higher degree of autonomy.
It is worth emphasizing that applying open and positive policies in the domain of human resources has important effects:
– Contributes to creating the feeling of security for all the employees;
– Encourages the employees to value their potential;
– Motivates the employees, thus contributing to enhancing the productivity in quantitative and qualitative terms;
– Gives the employees the conviction that they are the best and encourage them to occupy most important roles.
Nevertheless, during the pandemic crisis, applying some measures with strategic character are advisable (Kim et al., 1988, p. 119):
1) Redefining some personnel policies; creating and supporting some operational subunits specialized on certain products and services to allow relaunching the organization;
2) Rigorous selection of personnel, strictly monitored, for the organization gain genuine values able to revitalize the subsystems with development chances;
3) Promoting the personnel self-confidence;
4) Clarifying the roles, statuses and habits as well as the mechanisms of resource allocation.
The modern policies confer value to the processes and the tools working with the personnel. In this sense:
a) The organisation chart is flexible, having the main role to motivate the employees willing for promotion.
b) The job descriptions of the great companies, with regulated work division comprise strict norms regarding the tasks, volume and quality of the products. The job descriptions for the smaller companies are comprehensive, meaning that the workers have to be highly qualified and able to learn quickly new technologies.
c) The principle leading to a quick integration of the new employee is “the right man in the right place”. Nonetheless, looking for the “tight man” is difficult, time consuming and costly. It is more appropriate to tailor the role for the specialist, which creates the premises for positive motivation.
d) Control is frequently explicit within the American companies, the Japanese ones, included, while mixed in the European ones, depending on the quality checking complexity.
e) External recruitment is preferable to internal employee because of the specialists’ high mobility, while the market labour, transparent.
f) Motivation takes all the known efficient forms and bases upon the principle of respecting and encouraging the professional development of the employee.
g) Assessing the performance is a complex undertaking and systematic. Its consequences are promotion, finding new skills, specialized training or removal of the employee, if it is the case.
h) Policies address different people, speaking of the genetic heritage and personality, different ages, different professional training, differently motivated, with different social issues.
The Table 2 presents a synthesis of the main characteristics defining the human resources policies (Manolescu, 1998, p. 173).

Table 2.

The main characteristics defining the human resources policies

Personnel policies Characteristics
Equal opportunities policy The organization offers to all its employees, access course of personal development. The costs of this policy are high, yet ensures the stability and prestige of the organization.
Integration policy The organization offers support for professional training to all the employees participating in the institutional development and applies methods fighting against self-suffiiency and absenteism.
Paternalistic policy The organizations concerns with the social issues of its employees for all the duration of their career, from employment to retirement.
Participative policy The organization offers rewards to those employments contributing to its growth.
Positive motivation policy The organization has programmes for motivating its personnel and enables participating in the profit as they contribute to the organization deployment.
Performance encouragement policy The organization offers wages to motivate the performant employees.

 

2.4. Flexible Working Hours During the Pandemic

There is a plethora of methods, which enables a manager to limit the spreading of coronavirus and thus ensure his employees’ health. We mention some of them:
5) Establishing an individualized working programme and modifying the daily programme so that the employers may avoid rush ours for commuting to the work place.
6) Accepting the crisis and establishing the employer’s workplace at home for a certain period. Working from home is recommendable when the employers’ health and their families is in jeopardy.
7) When the specific of his work is not suitable to work from home, the employer has the possibility to interrupt the employees’ activity and send him on a leave to monitor their children, annual leave or technical unemployment.
8) In extreme situations, when the employees are susceptible of coronavirus infection, they have the possibility to benefit from sick leave and indemnity for quarantine.
Work formulas during the pandemic:
1. Part time – the arrangement applies when the total working hours of the employees is under the full-time programme, in many countries being eight hour per day. In principle, a part-time job means less working hours than the normal average. Many individuals cannot choose between work and family, so they choose a part-time job. Thus, they can spend less than 40 hours working and more time with the family. Questions arise naturally:
• What is the average working time?
• Is there a suitable working programme in the case of a part-time job?
Most of the employers do not understand this very well. The work contract usually establishes the minimum working hours. In the case of part-time work, the working hours are flexible per day. For example, the employee may work few hours every day or he may work full-time programme and then may choose one or two days off. Whether the work contract does not include overtime, the employee may choose not to deal with this programme. In principle, nobody can tell how many hours mean part-time. It depends on each work relation and the volume of work encompassed by full-time programme.
Part time job suits to those individuals who benefitted from parental care leave and want to begin activity. The benefit here is that the employee has more time for his family. On the other hand, because the wages are lower, the pension will be lower too.

2. Job-sharing – form of part-time working where two or more employees share the responsibility of a job. For instance, two telephone operators can form a pair, on condition they communicate correspondingly. It is a form of agreement, where the employer employs two people working part time, where in fact one individual works full time. Because of this sharing, the individuals work as a team to comply with the task, while the compensation divides to two. Everything else, salary and the leaves divides equally to two. The system pays as you go helps deducing for national insurance, whereas the pensions represent a mere percentage.
For this reason, the employments passing to full time programme feel less stressed because they have more time to spend with family and friends. Today, the continuous changing demography of the work force require more flexibility to realize the desired work-life balance, so that changing the job becomes a valid option, even preferred by many (Dixon-Krausse, 2007, p. 11). The share of jobs has proved convenient for mothers and the caretakers, thus having the possibility of flexible and less demanding programme and task. The employees who have jobs, yet they do not have a constant task and do not have to commute daily to a work place, are less stressed, a healthier life and work-life balance (HR Daily Advisor Content Team, 2013, p. 18). For the employees in search of free time, job-sharing may be a suitable modality to gain control upon their personal life (Javigth, G. D., 2006, p. 2).
Therefore, the individuals sharing jobs can make the decision of their “life quality” (Javigth, G. D., 2006, p. 2).
For the employer, job-sharing is a benefit. Because having two valuable employees he can enhance the intellectual capital and experience (Dixon-Krausse, 2007, p. 17). Job-sharing can prevent the exhaustion of the future employees in stressful jobs, whereas the wok vibe is unpleasant for everybody. Successful job-sharing creates a mutual relation and feel responsible each other, thus increasing the common accomplishments. Studies have demonstrated that the net productivity increases when two persons share the same work place 40 hours per week, which makes the job more efficient a probably more profitable for the employer.
Nonetheless, work share may also constitute a conflict, in case the participants/ employers do not want to a mutual agreement and share everything, from salary, work tasks and free time. Job-sharing may be, thus, a disadvantage whether the employer cannot afford part-time salaries and benefits.
Interestingly, changing jobs might infuse the employee with the feeling that he does not adjust and have a smaller productivity in time (Crampton et al., 2003, p. 22) In case the agreement proves inefficiency of the job’s distribution, the transition period might be disturbing to find another partner and damaging for the employee left. Whether the communication and adequate effort between participants is not optimum, the work share might be a negative experience, because one cannot render responsible the colleagues for the same expectations, thus affecting the agreement regarding the work sharing.
Disadvantages for the employer may occur immediately in case of his incapacity to associate two persons for job sharing. This can have negative implications for the management because of the supplementary effort and the time necessary for obtaining a harmonious job sharing (Crampton et al., 2003, p. 21). Although the agreement of job sharing divides the salary to two, training two employees for a job might increase the administrative costs.

3. Shortened programme – the employees work the same total hours per week or per month, yet their activity divided in fewer days and longer working programme. For example, the employees can work ten hour per day, yet they can enjoy their free Friday. Alternatively, on monthly basis, the employer can establish a long programme for three weeks and a short one for the fourth. The employer can establish the same programme for all the weeks or can change it week after week if needed.

4. Flexible working programme – the employees are in the position to choose when they begin and when they finish their daily working programme by keeping a certain interval imposed by the company. For example, an employee can choose to work from 7 am to 3 pm, while another employee can choose his programme between 10 am and 6 pm.

5. Yearly working contract – in this case, the employment contract provides certain working hours, yet flexible with weekly or monthly hours, during the week and at the weekend.

6. Fee type contract – in this case, the contract does not establish fixed hours, yet there is one objective, which the employee must accomplish.

7. ‘Career break’ or ‘sabbatical’ – extended period of absence in the company, usually not paid, which can extend for more years. Nonetheless, the company may choose to the benefits of the employee (for instance, social assurance or private pension) or the employee may pay for his own contributions. This advantage represents a traditional benefit for the academic environment, adopted by the forward-thinking companies for a new brand, and publicized for hunting new talents.

8. Working contract with null hours – the contract does not provide a certain number of working hours; the employer can summon the employees when needed and pay only for the effective worked hours. For instance, this arrangement may exist in the case of the medical assistants when needed and part of an already selected group. Alternatively, after retirement, the employees may opt to stay at the disposal of the company as flexible working force.

9. Online working – the employees can work from home or any other place, on permanent grounds or part-time. Online working or remote working is the modality through which the employee can accomplish his job tasks with the help of a PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone and a performative Internet connection. Nevertheless, compliance with certain prerequisites is necessary. Here they are:
• The employer must ensure the all the necessary informational and communicational technological means enabling the employer to undertake his daily activities, except for the cases when they agree differently;
• Install, check and maintain the equipment functional, except for the cases they agree differently;
• Ensure the proper instruction to the employee regarding his health, work security, and supply the necessary information and guidelines specific to the online work.
Furthermore, the employer must train the employee when hired, when changing the place of online working, when introducing new equipment or when adopting new working procedures. As for the employee, he has the same responsibilities as working in an office.

10. Flexibility of the office or ‘hoteling’ programmes – the employees may choose working to work in the office as an alternative for the permanent work location. The employer’s benefit lies in reduced costs for utilities and rent, because more often than not these spaces represent only part of the original total space.
2.5. Impact Tendencies Upon the Future of Labour Market After COVID-19 Pandemic
The organizations may choose to act differently from their competition during COVID-19 pandemic by making use of in-progress tendencies. These in-progress tendencies divide into three categories, in-progress tendencies, new factors, which were not part of discussion for the future of working life and ‘the swing of the pendulum’, temporary reactions on short run.

(a) In-Progress Tendencies
9) Increasing Working from Afar
The analyses have demonstrated 48% of the employees will work from afar at least partly, after the COVID-19 pandemic, comparatively to 30% before the pandemic. In fact, 74% of the financial managers intend to increase working from afar for their organizations after the pandemic. In order to be successful in a world working from home, the human resources managers should prioritize the digital competencies and digital collaborative abilities. Therefore, the HR should consider the way in which working from home change the management of performance, especially establishing the objectives and the assessment of the employees.

10) Extended data collecting
Under the current conditions of the pandemic, the organizations enhanced their passive monitoring of their employees through methods such as the virtual timesheet, tracking utilizing the PC and monitoring the internal communication via e-mails or chat. In addition, the employer may access their employers’ health data. For instance, the employer may choose to find out whether his employees have COVID-19 antibodies.

11) The employer as social security network
Interestingly, the employers can involve more into their employees’ lives by increasing the assistance of their mental health, extending the services covered by the medical insurance and providing the necessary financial support during and after the pandemic. The organizations envisage also the issue of maintaining the compensatory support for its employees, even in the case of those who cannot work from afar or blocked/ fired for all duration and after the COVID-19 crisis.

(b) New Factors
12) Separating The Critical Abilities from Critical Roles
In this case, the leaders redefine the meaning of ‘critical’ to include strategic critical roles of the employees, employees with critical abilities and employees in working critical positions. Thus, separating the critical abilities from critical roles move the focus to training the employees to develop abilities opening more opportunities for them, rather than focus on training for an ensuing specific role. Therefore, the organizations should re-assess their plans for succession and can extend the range of roles considered part of the developing for the future potential successors in a role.

13) Humanizing (And De-Humanizing) of the Employees
Along COVID-19 pandemic, some of the employees have connected better, while others have taken roles more and more task-oriented. For this reason, understanding the involvement manner of these employees within the organizational culture and creating a friendly culture become more and more important. In order to offer the necessary experience to its employees, the HR sector should facilitate them to conclude partnerships within the organization, while collaborating with the CEOs to help the employees navigate through the norms and the associated expectations.

14) Emergence of Highly Ranked Employers
As the labour market starts to come back to normality, the candidates will want to know the way in which the companies have dealt with the work force issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the organizations have to balance the decisions currently made in order to settle the immediate worries during the pandemic with the long run impact upon their employment brand, which will extend in the next few years.

3. Conclusion

Unfortunately, pandemic has transformed organizational fundamentally. The way in which we collaborate, we communicate, we make plans for the future or consider our objectives for 2021.
Moving the activities online and making use of digital solutions for information exchange within the team or with the existent or potential clients have happened quickly for many companies, which were not prepared for this step.
On the other hand, pandemic has offered an opportunity to digitalize work, to create access to information and increase the collaboration speed by making extensive use of different free platforms or others, which do not require a great investment.
Rapid spreading of the COVID-19 infections worldwide, made Europe face a health crisis, for whom it strives to find solutions to manage.
In this complicated situation, more and more companies experience the undesired effects of the virus spread, especially those implemented by the authorities with the aim of limiting the virus spread. Sadly enough, both the economic agents and the commercial relations feel the crisis impact.
The companies have to take into account creating policies and procedures specific for the pandemic, developing some capacities to enable communication among employees, organizing work online and leave in case of personal/ family matters, for minimum interruptions. Because of their duration, the manger should consider the impact upon the personnel in the regions absorbing supplementary work volume is an essential element since the beginning of the pandemic and for few weeks after their inception, when the contractors’ resources may have an important contribution. The dimension itself is variable and until present times, it concentrated upon certain areas of global impact; until currently, we have never experienced a pandemic affecting the whole world, though the possibility has existed.
Interestingly, the organizations have to reconsider the workplaces to make use of the advantages offered by the technology, yet without leaving aside the most important cog of the team: the people. This will create special jobs, special workplaces combining the traditional approach with the new one, involving technology.
There is a plethora of methods, which enables a manager to limit the spreading of coronavirus and thus ensure his employees’ health.
Work formulas during the pandemic are manny: part-time, job-sharing, shortened programme etc.
The organizations may choose to act differently from their competition during COVID-19 pandemic by making use of in-progress tendencies. These in-progress tendencies divide into three categories, in-progress tendencies, new factors, which were not part of discussion for the future of working life and ‘the swing of the pendulum’, temporary reactions on short run.

 

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