HR today – thoughts from the edge of living with COVID and the Great Resignation

Everything that we thought was normal in the world of work no longer exists. We have been through a time when people were confined to the home and many jobs thought to require presence in the office have been done virtually. This has altered the whole ‘going-to-work’ paradigm permanently, it is unlikely that things will be the same ever again.

The wide variance in economic impact on employees

The economic impact was felt differently around the world. While in some countries, there was little support from the government, in others full unemployment benefits were provided. In the US, some employees who lost their jobs as a result of COVID received enhanced unemployment benefits with additional payments of up to $600 per week from the pandemic fund. Rent payments were suspended, educational loan payments were suspended and some individuals were also eligible for food assistance.

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Mental Health

For many,  it became a time of reflection, introspection, and family that they may never have experienced in the past.  Everything was shut down and everyone was shut in!  It happened quickly and without much warning.  Fear of dying or losing a loved one loomed large and many lives were touched by the death of a loved one as a result of the pandemic.

Apart from this, the amount of political, economic, social, technological, legal, and environmental issues that the world has encountered in the last 24 months as well as “e” ethical dilemmas that humankind faced is unprecedented.


A new set of problems for CHROs to deal with

Now that things are off and on daily depending on the new variant and new findings in science around the virus, among other things, HR is back to focusing on compliance.

Vaxed or not Vaxed?

Masked or not Masked?

Tested weekly?

Federal and State Laws are tossed around daily and create a compliance nightmare!


Sleepless nights due to Talent Shortage

As an aftermath of all that and everything else that has happened globally in the last 24 months – the US and the world are suffering from “the Great Resignation” and a significant talent shortage.

“A record 4.4 million Americans left their jobs in September in 2021, accelerating a trend that has become known as the Great Resignation.”

“The fact that the quit rate is particularly high in sectors with a large number of frontline workers, e.g. hospitality, health care, and retail, suggests that safety concerns also play a role in the worker exodus, especially in face of the highly infectious Delta variant.” as per a report shared by the World Economic Forum.


The Great Resignation
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During the shutdown, HR was not only at the table but led the discussion at the table. And now, HR is faced with staffing the business for success and with trying to attract and retain talent for both the short and long haul.


The gig economy offers some respite

HR has been looking at the “gig” economy for a long time and considering its place in the work environments. Now more than ever it may be an important component of the ability to think outside the box and look at alternatives for both managing talent and for finding and getting the needed talent.

New tools for attracting and retaining talent as well as collaboration with other organizations offer alternatives that were never before available.


We need resources to streamline gig possibilities

Just like Uber was able to offer a platform to match needs and available resources seamlessly, CHROs need a resource that can help them access and utilise available talent optimally.

Skills Beyond Boundaries (SBB) offers a Cloud-based Talent Exchange Platform for organizations, businesses, industries, and governments to collaborate for Human Capital. It enables Talent Exchange by acting as a Virtual Skills Exchange for organizations. Members on the platform can present, source, and exchange people skills on a permanent, contract, consulting or sharing basis – among and across industries.

It even offers an Internal Talent Management tool, so that organizations can see available talent opportunities in-house without the boundaries created by traditional silos.

The best thing is that CHROs can retain and continue to grow their talent even when they don’t have a current project in which to engage them.  Leadership is able to look for unique and specialized skills that may not be available in-house and not needed for the long haul, but do need in the short term.  Talent can be vetted and information about performance reviewed about them from their profile on the SSB platform and interacting with their current employer to know more about the skill, ability, and knowledge they possess and that may be available to be  “acquired” to support short term needs.


The way forward

With new variants of COVID springing up every few months, the pandemic is not something that will be gone at some point.  It is something that for the foreseeable future organizations will have to learn to integrate into normal operations.  The more flexibility offered and the more opportunity for growth and development the more attractive a business will be to potential talent.

It will be critical to employ creativity and innovative practices to support businesses as they struggle to fill their supply chain and human staffing needs.  The SBB platform may be a tool to help with both.  From the opportunity to collaborate B2B and to share talent, the platform offers a different approach to talent management and acquisition.


Here’s the lesson I learned from the year 2021

Business will need to collaborate, not compete for talent – survival will require new approaches to acquisition and retention.



Nina Elizabeth Woodard
Nina Elizabeth Woodard

Nina has over 50 years of combined US and Global Business, HR, and Volunteer leadership experience in the US and 14 countries of the world. She currently is an advisor to Husys Consulting, in India; an Independent Board member for Safe Place for Pets in Colorado Springs, an Independent Board Member for Skill Beyond Boundaries, and a member of the Continuity Committee for CALSHRM Board.



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