Connect with us


Herman Trend Alert: HR in Normal 2.0

Will virtual reality replace in-person onboarding?


Click Here to Read More

For years, my consulting and speaking focus was exclusively Human Resources. I lived and breathed HR. As we all have been struggling through staying sane during the few ups and many downs of COVID-19, I have been thinking about the challenges that my HR friends must be facing. This Herman Trend Alert is my attempt to give insight and support to my HR Friends; however, it only scratches the surface. Many aspects of all of our personal and work lives are different from what they were pre-COVID-19.

Recruiting in the Time of COVID-19
Many companies still do not have all of their employees going into congregate workplaces, the recruiting and interviewing functions are certainly different. Some of my clients are telling me that front line people are very difficult to recruit right now. Certainly, we have more video interviews than ever before, but now there also is more sophisticated software to help filter through the stacks of résumés. Moreover, HR professionals must today assess candidates’ abilities to work independently at home, since in the foreseeable future, we will all be working at home – at least part time.


Onboarding in the Time of COVID-19
Just as in the past IBM onboarded employees from different countries together in Second Life, so too do HR professionals now have an opportunity to onboard remote and onsite employees in the same orientation class. Though IBM abandoned orientation in Second Life, using a virtual world platform or even virtual reality increases engagement exponentially and I believe that is what is coming in the future and sooner than we think.

Employee Engagement in the Time of COVID-19
Given that most employees are now challenged by additional personal family responsibilities, HR professionals are often on the frontlines in making sure that employees’ basic needs are met. Beyond that work, HR professionals will be challenged to support the firm’s leaders to engage the workforce. I think that gamification will again rise to importance or perhaps my new concept of “workification” – starting with popular games and adding work or training.


Employee Retention in the Time of COVID-19
Retention bonuses are probably more important than ever before; but even more critical is the reinforcement of positive shared values by management in internal communications, town hall meetings, and social media. We used to say that people wanted to do “meaningful” work; I think now, most people would substitute the term “purposeful.”

Additional Technologies to Support HR
Jon Cecil former chief human resources officer for Lee Memorial Healthcare and one of our Employers of Choice, transformed his function by creating a call center to answer employees’ myriad questions. That freed up his HR professionals to be consultants to other departments in the health system. Now, chat bots augmented by live representatives using can take that concept to the next level. Besides everything else on their plates, HR professionals are now expected to evaluate and incorporate new technologies.


Other Responsibilities that Landed on HR in Normal 2.0
As some employees have returned to their congregate workspaces, nothing is more important than their physical safety. Adequate supplies of masks and hand sanitizer and wipes and wands are now required to disinfect and keep people safe from the infection. In many white-collar offices, HR has had to take on safety roles as well. As if all that weren’t enough of an additional burden, due to a myriad of other challenges, many associates have begun to struggle with their financial wellbeing. provides a turnkey solution to help employees address issues of student and personal debt, budgeting, and much more.


As I stated in the opening, this Herman Trend Alert only begins to cover the new challenges and opportunities for HR professional in Normal 2.0.

© Copyright 1998-2020 by The Herman Group, Inc. — reproduction for publication is encouraged, with the following attribution: From “The Herman Trend Alert,” by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. 336-210-3548 or To sign up, visit The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group, Inc.”