Italians HR Departments Dealing with the COVID19 Emergency

HR Departments of Italian companies responded to the COVID-19 emergency by developing communication plans for employees and expanding the policies for remote work.

Furthermore, the pandemic re-arranged companies’ priorities: firstly, the introduction and enhancement of smart working (65%), followed by the development of digital culture and skills (45%) and the management of corporate reorganizations or sizing of the workforce (43%).

In this situation, agile organizations have proven to be more resilient, with an employees’ engagement rate that exceeds the overall average of 25%.

This is what emerges from the latest BVA Doxa research carried out for the HR Innovation Practice Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico of Milano. The research describes the changes faced by HR Departments during the COVID-19 emergency, based on an empirical analysis that it involved 198 medium-large Italian companies and a representative panel of employees.

 

The COVID-19 emergency has affected all organizations, and it switched the work routines, and the collaboration and integration habits from physical to digital. The HR Departments of the Italian companies responded by developing almost all (95%) emergency communication plans dedicated to workers and by expanding the policies for remote work (93%); they also planned shifts to fight the risk of infection and met people’s needs (55%), they helped workers training on digital tools in order to work from home (48%) and trained digital soft skills (46%), adding services to welfare packages (42%).

The pandemic has rearranged companies’ priorities for 2020. HR Departments indicate the three top priorities: the introduction or enhancement of smart working (65%), the development of digital culture and skills (45%) and the management of company reorganizations or the sizing of the workforce (43%).

In this situation, the more agile companies that already have flexible models have proven to be more resilient in facing the changes imposed by the health emergency. The “agile” organizations, therefore, are more prepared for the digital transformation of HR processes, and are capable of creating more engaging and participatory work environments, enhancing people and talents.

These are a few of the findings coming from the latest BVA Doxa research carried out for the HR Innovation Practice Observatory of the School of Management of the Politecnico of Milano. The research describes the changes faced by HR Departments during the COVID-19 emergency, based on an empirical analysis that it involved 198 medium-large Italian companies and a representative panel of employees.

 

COMPANIES FACING THE EMERGENCY – In this unprecedented context, agile organizations have been able to respond better to the emergency than traditional ones. In fact, if 95% of companies had to introduce new digital tools to support at least one HR process to adapt to new ways of working, the “agile” ones did not need to implement the same new technological tools.

In addition, the emergency is becoming an opportunity to review some HR practices: 74% of agile organizations declare a positive impact on engagement activities, 57% on internal communication and 51% on training and development activities, while the percentages decrease in less agile organizations.

Among the new initiatives to support their collaborators during the emergency, agile organizations have been more careful in monitoring people’s psychological aspects, such as, for example, the state of mind and well-being (51% against 32% of traditional companies) or the creation of moments of sharing, not strictly related to work activities (54% compared to 35% of non-agile organizations).

AGILE COMPANIES READY FOR THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION – Among the agile organizations, 66% say they have found themselves fully prepared for the digital transformation. Although all companies have experienced an overall contraction in investment, the health emergency has led to a review of digital investment priorities, with almost half (48%) of the agile organizations declaring to have increased investments in this field.

In agile organizations, upskilling programs to enrich digital skills and digital reskilling in order to train workers for new digital skills have increased sharply compared to last year. Agile organizations also focused on the design of specific training programs to develop “hard” digital skills (53%), and initiatives to spread culture and knowledge about digital by involving people in innovation paths (53%).

WORKERS HAVE THE FINAL SAY – On average, 40% of workers say they are involved in work activities. In agile organizations, the average level of engagement increases by 25% compared to traditional enviroments. Among those who work in agile organizations, workers who say they are “deeply involved” account for 74%, against 32% of those employed in traditional contexts.

When it comes to future predictions, one out of four employees among all companies declare that their work will be very different in the next two years, and that they will have to update their current skills profile. In agile organizations, the propensity and ability to expand their knowledge to adapt to change increases by 24% compared to traditional contexts.

Agile models manage to increase workers’ performance by 26% on all dimensions of work performance, and above all in the ability to proactively introduce improvements for the benefit of the organization.

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