10 Initiatives for HR to Implement during the Coronavirus Crisis
Human Resources professionals are one of the foremost representatives of emphatic human spirit and steadfast resilience. This optimistic tenacity immediately rose to occasion following the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the worldwide trends went beyond control of the respective governments and increased exponentially due to the contagious nature of the infection. The situation has become complicated, with arguably over a million infected people worldwide.
Thus, as it turns out, the Coronavirus pandemic is no ordinary outbreak. In these trying times, the HR teams are at the forefront of each organization, hustling it out to ensure smooth handling of organizational processing albeit in an unconventional, delocalised way, along with maintaining employee performance, updating information and contingency plans. Some of the measures taken to standardise the practices across the organization include the following:
1. Employee welfare
Employee welfare is arguably the foremost condition which needs to be implemented during the Coronavirus pandemic. Fear of business discontinuity / considerable business loss has mandated all employers and managers that employee welfare be given first priority as it directly correlates to employee productivity, morale and efficiency. The HR must upkeep employee welfare to a maximum even as they deal with maintaining business continuity and engagement with all the stakeholders.
2. Reaching out
HR professionals need to keep themselves in sync with the mental state and attitude of their employees, in order to keep morale high during distressing times like the Coronavirus pandemic. The HR must acknowledge employee anxiety due to the Coronavirus pandemic, talk and discuss about these issues openly, and find ways to address it. The HR should also make the managers aware of the sensitive nature of the chain of events emanating due to the pandemic and thereby guide them on how to best deal with the staff at the workplace. This guidance can be facilitated through a no. of mediums ranging from digital booklets to online meetings and discussions.
3. Crisis Management
HR professionals worldwide have displayed marked adaptability and crisis management skills to focus on scenario planning and operational responses, thus ensuring business continuity during the Coronavirus outbreak. Constant engagement and regular updates on work and business status shall ensure that the employees remain motivated with a sense of purpose. Crisis management skills are keys skills to look at during such tumultuous times.
4. Reinforcing objectives
Achievement of business goals is the sum total of individual performances of the people working in an organization. The pandemic has created an atmosphere of insecurity and ruckus, with distress alarms going on inside people’s heads every now and then. However, even in this challenging business scenario, when made to realise the importance of their roles and their contribution towards the achievement of business goals, the employees can get a morale boost. Clear objectives and regular updates on possible changes shall ensure employees maintain enthusiasm, focus, energy and a sense of purpose. HR leaders can provide insight into the current organizational goals and translating the overall vision into their employees' context. This way they can help managers reassert the link between employees' work and organizational success.
5. Travel policy
Organizations have implemented a total travel ban from/to mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and other countries like the US, Italy, Spain, UK etc. that have been hit hard by the virus. Travel is only advisable when extremely urgent. Many global summits and symposiums have also been cancelled and will be rescheduled.
6. Work arrangement
Companies throughout the globe dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic have unanimously mandated the employees to work from home. In extreme cases where this may not be possible, the HR is advised to split employees into groups as per their departments, projects or assignments, and instruct each group to come to office only on specific days, only if it’s absolutely necessary. In any case, those having considerable commute distance are instructed to work from home. The HR must also ensure that employees working from home have secure login systems.
In many organizations employees have been forced to work remotely for the first time in their lives. Thereby, the HR must also drive engagement sessions to walk the employees through this process and ensure it is made smooth. Likewise, for employees who commute to office, a similar formal training should be arranged.
For those employees who are commuting to office, the HR should facilitate the provisioning of allowances for lunch, travel fares etc. This shall ensure that the employees are able to cope with the distress and morale is maintained. Employees should also be provided with respiratory masks, disinfectants, hand sanitizers etc. when they come to work.
8. Employee recognition
The coronavirus has created significant gap in employee engagement, due to which the HR must must swing into immediate and constant action in aligning managers with their teams.. In turn, the managers must ensure effective recognition to those whose efforts and performance have stood out. Recognition not only motivates the recipient but is a strong message to other employees of behaviors they should emulate. Recognition can be anything from public acknowledgment, development opportunities to low-cost perks, and not necessarily monetary awards. Also, regular assessment checks and similar systems must be put in place to gauge each employee’s progress. Excessive deviation from compliance on the employee’s part must be promptly corrected.
Companies are dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic on a global level. One of the unanimous mandates is having the employees work from home or as per convenience. The HR can avail this opportunity to institute various training and engagement-driven initiatives to keep the employees engaged about the work and business, and instill focus and enthusiasm into them and ensure overall high productivity. These initiatives can also include daily recorded training sessions like medical advice on how to protect oneself from the infection.
10. Regular upkeep
The HR, at the same time as ramping up engagement and driving business intiatives, must keep itself up to speed with the latest information on the pandemic and how work and business methodologies have evolved since. All updates can be promptly shared with the employees through necessary means. These initiatives and other shall bring the workforce closer.