Lasting impact of Covid-19 on HR Policies and Practices highlighted at recent Shannon Chamber event


  • 1 in 4 (27%) organisations state staff productivity negatively impacted while staff working remotely
  • Over 6 in 10 (65%) organisations state staff have been negatively impacted in terms of their personal health and wellbeing
  • 8 in 10 organisations experienced an employee dispute in 2019, double the number from 2018
  • Less than a quarter (22%) of organisations planning salary increases next year
  • 9 in 10 Organisations have some employees working remotely


As Covid-19 continues to shape the employment landscape and the relationship between employer and employee, a new report from Adare Human Resource Management provides analysis on the impact it is having as well as highlighting other key HR trends. Details of the research findings were shared earlier this week at a Shannon Chamber event.

“Addressing Covid-19 Challenges” is the top HR Challenge for 2021 according to the 2020 HR Barometer, with 45% of organisations noting that managing the impact of Covid-19 on their business will be a key challenge in 2021, with 36% stating “Uncertainty and change” as being the next biggest challenges. “Remote working practices” makes up the top three challenges at 28%. When asked last year what the top challenges would be for 2020, HR Practitioners focus was on recruitment and retention.

 Top 5 Challenges for HR in 2021

  1. Addressing Covid-19 Challenges – 45%
  2. Uncertainty & change – 36%
  3. Remote working practices – 28%
  4. Skills shortage – 22%
  5. Recruiting & resourcing – 21%

According to Derek McKay, Managing Director of Adare Human Resource Management, remote working is the biggest change to how Irish businesses adapted to the health crisis. McKay said: “Our research found that while most organisations (62%) did not have a remote working policy in place before Covid-19, 9 in 10 now have some level of employees working remotely, with 37% having at least half of their workforce working remotely. While some organisations would have had remote workers in previous years, it certainly would not be anywhere near these levels.

“And when we asked about a return to the office, 36% of employers stated their staff are reluctant to return before the end of the year. So, remote working is continuing to evolve as being a more medium to longer term employment fixture for the future.”

Helen Downes, CEO of Shannon Chamber noted: “With a second lockdown now underway, many employees in the Shannon region are facing a further six weeks working from home. In some cases, many of these people may not have had the chance to return to the office since the beginning of the health crisis. Employers are now fully aware of the consequences of remote working in terms of the welfare of their staff as is evident in the research with 65% of employers agreeing that the health and wellbeing of employees has been negatively impacted by Covid-19.

“While some organisations have already put in place policies and structures to support employees, I do think it is important to give a timely reminder to employers about their obligations and responsibilities to staff.”

 Impact on salaries

Just half of organisations increased salaries in 2020, compared with 75% in 2019, with an average increase of 3%, down from 4% in 2019. The current uncertainty is impacting plans on increases for 2021 with just 22% stating they will increase wages next year. 

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on working hours and salaries with 1 in 2 organisations (51%) reducing hours and salaries and one in five (19%) of these organisations implementing salary cuts of an average cut of 21%. And, 40% of these organisations are uncertain if they will be in a position to reinstate these cuts.

 Increased number of conflicts and disputes

The number of organisations experiencing employee disputes and employment issues doubled last year. The research found that just over 80% of organisations had some form of dispute or employee issue in 2019 compared with four in 10 the previous year.

However, while this is a significant increase, it is in line with figures from the Workplace Relations Commission that showed an increase of 36% in the numbers of complaints it received in 2019 compared with 2018.

The three main causes for disputes in organisations highlighted in the 2020 HR Barometer were personal relationships between employees (49%), poor communication (47%) and lack of effective performance management (39%).

The report also highlighted a drastic increase in the number of Personal Injury Claims last year with 41% of organisations experiencing a claim in 2019 compared with 26% the previous year. Given the number of employees working remotely, Adare Human Resource Management has warned organisations that they could see this figure rise again next year.

According to McKay: “Employers are still obliged to follow health and safety legislation when it comes to employees’ workstations regardless of the place of work. Our concern is that employers will see an increase in personal injury claims from employees who have spent months working with inadequate equipment such as chairs and desks, and maybe not taking the appropriate breaks as set out in the legislation. Organisations need to ensure that they have carried out risk assessments of individual workstations and taken any required action.”

Top HR Priorities for 2021

When asked last year what the key priorities would be for 2020, the top two priorities were “Retention” at 44% and “Recruiting & Resourcing” at 40%. This year, they have slipped back to fifth and sixth, with “Employee Engagement” the main focus for next year at 68% – the highest rating that has ever been given to a Top Priority. This provides a good insight into challenges that HR practitioners are facing in maintaining motivation amongst employees as they continue to work remotely. It is no surprise then to see that “Performance Management” and “Addressing Covid-19 Challenges” have come in second and third.

“Health & Wellbeing” of employees is much more in focus on the HR agenda for 2021. This has significantly increased from 7% last year to 45% in this year’s research. This provides a clear indication that the welfare of employees is currently front of mind for employers as

The 2020 HR Barometer is available from Adare Human Resource Management on request to



About the 2020 HR Barometer:

The survey for the 2020 HR Barometer was carried out by Empathy Research on behalf of Adare Human Resource Management. Online interviews were carried out with 170 HR Professionals from across the Republic of Ireland in August 2020.

About Adare Human Resource Management:

Established in 2003, Adare Human Resource Management is one of Ireland’s best-known and respected providers of Employment Law, Industrial Relations and best practice Human Resource Management Services. Adare Human Resource Management is an Irish company with a unique knowledge of the needs of Irish business.

Specialising in Employment Law, best practice Human Resource Management and Health and Safety, Adare Human Resource Management offers a valuable resource to any business that acts as an employer – even those who have their own internal HR function. They assist and advise organisations on a diverse range of solutions, varying from assistance in ensuring compliance with employment legislation through to implementation of best practice solutions to enable organisational change.