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Man circling people The role of HR as purely managing tasks has long shortchanged companies and leadership teams trying to see around corners and get the most out of their most precious resource — their people.

The crises of 2020 are many — the pandemic and its horrific toll, the devastating economic recession, this summer’s painful reckoning with racial injustice. For businesses, they are also all fundamentally human, and have resulted in wave after wave of people-related challenges, none of which we’ve fully addressed.

HR has necessarily been front and center in responding to these crises as they arose, but putting out fires is not the sole function of a good HR team. It’s anticipating the challenges still to come, putting policies in place that demonstrate empathy and seizing opportunities presented by crisis, building trust with employees at every step.

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