COVID-19, more than just disrupting workspaces, has revolutionized Human Resource Management in consulting and professional services firms. Working remotely in a pandemic situation, in a context of critical economic uncertainty, presents unprecedented challenges for human resources: among them, supervision, effective communication, productivity and performance management, employee commitment, advancement and availability… Human Resource Management must be reinvented.

Disruptions of work spaces and structures specific to pandemics (source: EY)

Convalescence will happen on a case-by-case basis and require rethinking different strategies for organizing resources. 

Indeed, it is necessary to take a step back from the events to draw the best possible conclusions. The Workbook “COVID-19: Workforce strategies for a post-COVID-19 recovery” built by Deloitte evokes: reflecting – recommitting – re-engaging – rethinking – rebooting.

The aim is to make flexibility the new standard in order to respond to different situations as acutely and appropriately as possible. This will involve a review of work structures and team organization. 

  1. Centralizing communication with and between employees for better connectivity
  2. Tracking performance to optimize it
  3. Maximizing talent for greater productivity
  4. Better visibility for better reactivity 
  1. Centralizing communication with and between employees for better connectivity

Working at home has reinforced the need for centralized communication spaces dealing with the progress of the different projects but also with the well-being of the teams and their availability. It has become crucial for organization to have an overall visibility of what their teams are working on and how is the work split among employees. Human Resource Management (HRM) has become more flexible, as have the employees themselves: the LSE Business Review notes an increase in the willingness to collaborate, to be flexible and to quickly adapt. Faced with this evolution, the danger of micro-management is looming: managers who, since it is out of reach, lose confidence in their staff and cause teams to lose productivity. 

Thus, the solution is in a tailor-made centralized platform connecting employees and reporting on their evolution on live. A software like Stafiz helps provide guidance and organize projects but avoid micro-managing tasks by tasks. Each employee can reorganize their planning and this bottom-up approach will provide management with an overall understanding of who will be available in the next period to start on a new project.

            In addition, through COVID-19, it was discovered that talents such as project managers are not to be restricted geographically. Consulting and professional services firms can extend their expertise outside their local area if they have the right communication, evaluation, supervision and monitoring tools to manage their HRM. 

2. Tracking performance to optimize it

With the dispersal of the workforce, a tailor-made, database-driven and relevant insight is fundamental to track team performance and commitment. A sharp understanding of the various activities allows for appropriate positioning and organization of tasks in the schedule over the long and short term. On the other hand, identifying gaps in the schedules helps optimizing them.

In this way, event-monitoring and reporting have never been so crucial. A software that centralized the resource planning helps identifying over or under utilization and reorganize tasks and projects so that no one is overwhelmed with work or bored with nothing to do.

Finally, employees must be able to report on a day-to-day basis on their performance and any difficulties they encounter, in detail and with attentive ears. Employees can add a comment or a smiley on their time tracking to convey their feelings and help management follow their progress remotely. 

Consulting and professional services companies are particularly concerned by these issues. Their work and exchange spaces can indeed extend from the office to the employee’s home but also, and above all, to the client’s premises. This delicate and frequent geographical flexibility leads to distancing and multiplies communication difficulties. Reporting on performance, clearly explaining one’s schedule, working in a team, etc. become much more complex in these areas and require an urgent response. 

3. Maximizing talent for greater productivity

In addition, it is necessary to identify and restrict the roles of each person in order to maximize individual and collective performance. 

In fact, 40% of employees report carrying out assignments that do not correspond to their job description on a daily basis. As a result, this dispersal leads to a dramatic waste of talent, possibly a loss of efficiency on the tasks in question and a reduction in the time allocated to assignments that really match the employee’s profile. This dispersion has been accentuated with COVID-19 and working at home. 

The Human Resource Management software focal point seeks to answer “When, where and how to secure and mobilize talent, from inside or outside the company, in the face of such and such a workload and such and such project? ยป. It therefore becomes essential to analyze and assess the availability of capacities and talents. 

– Internal offer: be careful not to disperse assignments

– Outside offer: Where’s the talent? How to find it and how to solicit it? At what cost?

– External demand: seeking financial benefit for the company

Consultancy and professional services firms, particularly because they are confronted with as many special situations as there are clients and do not fall into a protocol routine, have everything to gain from maximizing the allocation of each talent. Which talent for which project? For how long? For how long? Why?

4. Better visibility for better reactivity 

A crisis, social or individual, like COVID-19, has a direct impact on HRM and work practices. The responsiveness of the structures is decisive in order to deal with it effectively, quickly and appropriately, but also to learn from each of these difficulties.

Consulting and professional services firms need to invest in tools that enable and facilitate working from home and virtual collaboration between their employees. They will need to assess and update their bandwidth to support these new deployments within their network, perform periodic network stress tests and identify alternative solutions for each critical task that cannot be performed at home. 

These still unusual reflexes will require a great deal of flexibility on the part of companies and individuals. It is a question of completely reorganizing the management of resources and resource planning. 

Through a redefinition of work processes and the standard, COVID-19 calls on consulting and professional services companies to redefine, ‘reboot’ to take inspiration from the Workbook published by Deloitte, the organization of their resources and HRM. The focus is on connectivity between employees, at all levels and even remotely, on monitoring, evaluating and supervising each individual’s performance, on intelligent talent maximization and on double reactivity.