Despite a semblance of normalcy on the horizon, the effects of the pandemic will have a significant impact on how local government agencies are run in the future, especially for human resources departments. Government HR leaders have been forced to meet challenges they never had before, in ways they may have never thought possible -- like enabling remote work, designing touchless work spaces, and migrating manual processes to the cloud.
As American society faces a new reckoning around the subject of discrimination and harassment, government bodies are looking for ways to remedy these problems with legislation. One such topic being addressed by state and local laws in the wake of the #MeToo movement is sexual harassment training, with several states and one major city enacting policies that require employers to ensure their employees are getting this important education and training.
By now, all 50 U.S. states as well as territories have been allocated federal funding in the form of the CARES Act, signed into law back in March in order to help American citizens, businesses, institutions, and local agencies recover from COVID-19 related struggles. The chunk of this $2 trillion bill that is dedicated to helping local government agencies, tribal government agencies, and colleges and universities is referred to as the Coronavirus Relief Fund.
In today’s working world, the employee experience is in trouble. Employees in the U.S. are up to twice as likely to be disengaged at work.
And this disengagement can cause problems. Gallup finds that organizations whose employees are actively engaged reap substantial rewards (vs. unengaged peers) such as 41% lower absenteeism, between 24 and 59% lower turnover, and 17% higher productivity. Clearly, organizations simply cannot afford to ignore the importance of the employee experience.
2020 started with the promise that it was going to be my best year yet as an HR professional. I was going to accomplish every resolution this year. From launching a new training program for managers, initiating a diversity & inclusion program, and my personal goal of reading every book I could find on being a first time dad. That all changed when the COVID-19 Coronavirus put much of our lives on pause. The idea of "social distancing," toilet paper hoarding, and sanitizing delivery boxes were completely foreign concepts just a month or two ago. The lifestyle inconveniences turned into real fear as I started witnessing the early effects of this virus that we still don’t have any solutions for.
When recently surveyed about the impact of Coronavirus on HR, 89% of public sector respondents said that keeping employees healthy was their biggest concern. Given that 92% still have some portion of their employees working from the office, that means the majority of HR professionals are being forced to rethink how they conduct daily operations in their physical environments.
As the world addresses the widespread impact of COVID-19 from a physical and mental perspective, many things remain uncertain. However, less uncertain is the fact that public sector employees continue to be responsible for providing a safe work environment as this dire situation continues to unfold. Whether some of your staff are now telecommuting or will be soon, inevitably there will be public sector employees who cannot perform their critical functions remotely. Doing everything we can to make these employees feel supported, informed, and safe is a top priority.
As we approach a month since the first COVID-19 stay-at-home orders were put into place, HR professionals in the public sector are still waiting for the dust to settle from the upending of their daily operations. Transitioning employees to remote working, maintaining critical services to the public, and concerns about layoffs or shuttered departments have all been top of mind as we continue to confront uncharted territory.
A recent survey of HR professionals by Gartner found that 88% of organizations have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In public sector and higher education organizations, however, there are unique challenges to successfully implementing a work remote program for employees while also maintaining critical services. Whether it be utilities, police and fire, online schooling or other various functions deemed essential, working remotely may not be as simple as it is for private sector companies.
According to Gartner, “Approaches to learning are stubbornly stuck in the past — too episodic, too rigid, too slow, too expensive and out of sync with today’s needs.” Microlearning aims to solve this by reducing the length of individual employee training courses and the volume of content communicated in each lesson. Information is presented in more digestible pieces so it can be learned more quickly and accurately, with greater expected retention.