How HR Can Support Businesses Amid Coronavirus Uncertainty?

Organizations now have to rely more than ever on their HR departments to ensure their workforce feels as safe as possible during this unprecedented and unpredictable time. So, the question here is how can HR support businesses amid coronavirus uncertainty?

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By Dr Sheetal Nair


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One will never always be able to avoid difficult situations but one can modify the extent to which they can suffer by merely choosing to respond correctly. India has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 25 to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. As a result of the pandemic, businesses have asked employees to work from home where possible.

But revenues have tanked, and there is growing pressure to cut costs, presenting serious mental, physical, and financial complications to people everywhere. Organizations now have to rely more than ever on their HR departments to ensure their workforce feels as safe as possible during this unprecedented and unpredictable time.

So, the question here is how can HR support businesses amid coronavirus uncertainty?

Listed down 5 ways in which HR Leaders can support their mother ship & steer them to safety.

(a) Employees are going to view the covid19 pandemic in their own perspective. Some may think the virus is a hoax or not worth paying attention to, and others will take it very seriously. Regardless of beliefs, organizations must maintain clear communication with their workers.

HR managers should show their commitment to safety by regularly sharing helpful and fact-based information via the company's internal communication models. WhatsApp is usually a bane and causes a lot of misinformation but HR can use this same medium to educate workers with proper courses of action should they begin showing signs of infection or come in contact with an infected individual. The facts can be shared & panic situations can be avoided.

(b) In addition to basic safety standards, HR needs to also emphasize the importance of managing the perception of safety. People will react to this pandemic in various ways, companies should maintain composure and steer employees toward feelings of safety.

Organizations that still have employees reporting in-person should screen every individual before they enter the premises. HR practitioners should continue encouraging employees with symptoms to remain at home, and amend policies to ensure sick employees can stay home without losing pay.

(c) Many organizations have now moved to remote working and unfortunately, this was not by choice. This is a major culture change to a lot of businesses that have just happened overnight. Trust is an essential element of working from home.

Daily online sessions can be scheduled where managers discuss work priorities per day for the team and themselves and enquire from employees if there are any bottlenecks stopping the execution of their work. Team and employee performance should be measured by a new metric that needs to be relaxed and analysed weekly by each team to the team lead.

(d) HR should review and edit company policies to ensure every employee has equal access to healthcare facilities. They should also make sure employees reporting to work still have access to their usual leaves & other benefits intact.

A fight is a fight. And organizations need to realise that the current situation is akin to a fight. No matter how many fights you have under your belt, it will continue to be a learning experience. And you can never prepare yourself for every scenario. Awkward, odd, and difficult situations will always present themselves. You just have to stay cool and work through them. Once the crisis has passed, HR should encourage employees to re-evaluate the Healthcare policies & also look at promoting a healthy work environment.

(e) Many high-level professionals in leadership have announced they are taking pay-cuts to help on-site workers. HR professionals can also show recognition by using the company's communications channels to acknowledge employees by name for the commitment they've shown working during this crisis.

One of the things that organizations often forget, is that it is very easy to simply say thank you and recognize the contributions that their employees are making. What this recognition does is it enforces a feeling of positivity amongst everyone. We have seen and heard of many acts of kindness during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is very important that organizations listen to their HR Departments during this time as they have the best experience in protecting employees & making them feel valued.

The Human Resource Managers can teach the businesses the art of fierce compassion, as is written the book "The Midas Touch – 99 Pages to Acquire Alchemy & Forge Champions", HR leaders need to metamorphosise into champions and teach the businesses the art of fierce compassion - redefining strength, deconstructing isolation and renewing a sense of community, practicing letting go of rigid thinking while cultivating power & clarity in response to such difficult situations as these times are putting everyone through.

Dr Sheetal Nair

Corporate Head, DSS Group of Companies

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