You will find many articles about the war in Ukraine’s impact on global technology companies when surfing the internet.
About 80 percent of Western tech companies have exited Russia or are scaling back. Meantime more than 60 percent of big tech companies from other parts of the world are staying the course.
The information focuses on the limited tech standards and policies, which mean more expensive consumer services and lower productivity growth globally.
But what has changed for HR teams? Since March, the function of a human resources professional has shifted dramatically. HR specialists who once focused on process improvement, culture, and business operations have been transformed into a support network to ensure employee safety, well-being, and general business operational continuity.
Alla has worked in HR for 15 years, the last four of which have been HR director within companies with more than 700 employees. She has built HR processes from scratch, reforming teams for business needs in Ukraine, Belarus, Poland, and Latin America. Alla is a certified PPA (personal profile analyst) practitioner and facilitator.
According to Statista, as of May 2022, about 2.97 million people were only working in the IT industry in the United States. It would continue its growth, but the Russian invasion changed things. However, the IT sector continues to be more stable and less affected than others.
I see several reasons:
How did the war shake the stability of the IT business?
High-tech products are developed using inputs from many countries, but few of them can function without inputs from the European Union or the United States. As a result, a single economy cannot replicate the capabilities of the global network. Highly skilled Russians are already leaving, reinforcing the effect of the sanctions.
Some companies having offices in Ukraine had to slow down growth, pause teams’ work in Ukraine, and move to other locations due to the concern of clients and the need to mitigate risks. The horror of reality certainly influenced the psychological state of people. Some left their homes, some lost loved ones, and others lost psychological stability and willingness to respond to events and work adequately.
Work distracts from negative thoughts and worries. However, being productive and interacting with others is challenging. Communication with colleagues, managers, subordinates and customers needed extra attention.
HR teams faced new challenges that shook the stability of processes. Among them:
- Employee confusion. Daily status checking of employees to ensure their safety.
- The inability to contact. Endless searches through relatives and friends.
- The inability to work. People can move to safe locations, be in an occupied area, or struggle with their mental health.
- Customer anxiety. “Keeping customers calm” is usually the account manager’s role, not HR. Nevertheless, HR works on collecting the most detailed data on the location of employees and their availability or unavailability to work. The provided information goes to the account managers to hand over to customers.
- Working in a turbulent and unpredictable environment. The planning horizon narrowed to one or two days. It’s hard to plan for a week or a month.
Most of the company’s standard planned practices at Forte Group have been updated according to the new reality.
For example, in the first weeks of the war, performance reviews lost their relevance due to the impossibility of long-term planning. Self-development plan and a retrospective were tightly connected with a future perspective which was hard to find in those days.
The HR strategy has essentially been transformed into tactical, flexible steps to monitor the current state. Three essential things became a priority:
At Forte, we understood that in such a difficult situation, the company could not stay away, and, like many other IT companies, we provided our employees and their families with several benefits:
- Relocation to safe places and financial support for those who moved.
- Help with the housing, if possible.
- Providing individual and group psychological support.
- Retraining people and transferring to other projects when it was necessary.
- Support for employees who volunteer or join the Armed Forces or Defense Forces.
With the outbreak of hostilities, HR learned to work in a rapidly changing environment and acted as a team. These are the skills that I think will always be relevant.
The extraordinary situation highlighted the importance of HR functions for the business. But how to support employees in such a difficult period and not burn out? I believe that if you decide to work in HR, then:
- Make sure your professional skills correlate with your ability to communicate.
- Understand how you will deal with difficulties. There are plenty of joyful moments working in HR, but there’s also a responsibility behind it. It is crucial to deal with negative moments and not to fail others.
Are there any extra tasks for the head of HR at such a challenging time? Of course, there are:
Thus the beginning of 2022 has already been a challenge for HR teams, we may point out the main trend which is positive employee experience. We pay more attention to mental health of our employees, their communication and building relations within a team.
Considering all of the above, the focus of CHROs will be to:
- Drive innovation to execute business transformation in a hybrid work model
- Support human-centric models to offer flexible experience and encourage empathy-based management
- Foster long-term relationships with employees and focus more on their health, not just performance
- Implement data-driven HR processes and people’s analytics
- Educate and upskill your employees to achieve agility, customer centricity and operational efficiency.
To keep up with further challenges in your HR decisions and rely more on data you may contact us to discuss how can we transform your organization together.