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What are the HR priorities facing COVID-19 ?

What are the HR priorities facing COVID-19 ?

Partly because of the lack of knowledge, but also because of the uncertainty of the future, both personally and professionally, in the areas of human resources, managing the crisis is a great challenge. Not only because it directly affects all areas of a business, but also because it tests the ability to adapt, the flexibility, confidence and effective communication of any organization.

The current priority of companies beyond their economic objective is to guarantee the health and safety of their employees. Many companies have already adopted measures to strengthen hygiene and coexistence practices, including the following:

  • Provide hygiene and protective equipment such as hydro-alcoholic masks and gels.
  • Controls to enforce social distances
  • Cleaning and sanitizing of work sites
  • Rearrangement of working spaces and working times
  • Employee motivation programs (management of uncertainties and concerns)

Another important impact on the current situation has been the travel restrictions and suspensions and the establishment of homeworking models in organizations where policies have probably not been developed or not has thoroughly as it actually should be.

In this context, human resources managers play a facilitating role so that the company can continue, beyond the particular circumstances. Firstly, it is essential that they have the necessary tools and processes which allow rapid learning of work and of distance leadership for people who have never done so, generating virtual training spaces for all employees. 

In a second instance, manage information continuously through effective channels, such as e-mails or webinars, and have them send to all employees at the same time. Communications that raise awareness of responsibility for one and another, the measures to avoid the spread of the virus, actions to prevent contagion, specifically to avoid mistakes being more expensive for the organization and the individual. It is important to be flexible, to change and to adapt courageously according to the situation.

Likewise, it is essential to provide for containment which, from human resources, can be offered, for example, to employees who, before travel suspension, were eventually stranded in another country, as providing all the necessary to make them feel considered by the organization and instruct their leaders so that they can make a good pursuit of these people.

Containment is also linked to the need to give reliable and immediate responses to the possible stress of certain employees in a difficult situation. Digital economy or GIG economy based companies, such as Airbnb or Uber for example, may experience even more complications and uncertainties. Will they stop working and possibly quarantine or will they continue to do their work in ordre to keep their activity going?

Now is the time to show empathy and compassion not only as HR managers but also as an organization. Your main references must show support through direct communications, which will go a long way in demonstrating that the organization really cares while reassuring and informing its employees.

In each crisis, new opportunities arise. Perhaps this pandemic will help organizations around the world to appreciate even more the importance of digital transformation, investment in the training of their leaders and the new skills of their employees, in the pursuit of strategic management of organizational culture and, ultimately, working for the common good.

“During this economic restart, wear surgical masks. The mask protects against the emission of droplets (cough, sneeze). It prevents those who are infected from infecting and those who are not from being infected. "-Nathan Clumeck, specialist in infectious diseases at CHU Saint-Pierre"