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How to Adjust Your HR Practices as the Pandemic Continues

HR Question:

As many roles in our business community ebb and flow with the changes of 2020, the role and function of human resources has undergone massive change. How can I continue to adjust my HR practices as the pandemic continues?

HR Answer:

As organizations adjust to the changes 2020 has brought us, human resource professionals have taken on increasing responsibility and strategic importance. Business leaders are looking to HR to provide key information and strategic recommendations more frequently and on a higher level, while quickly trying to adjust their HR practices to meet the needs of the pandemic. As a business community, we’ve seen widespread change in areas including, but not limited to:

  • Workforce – The workforce landscape has changed for most employers, such as moving their teams to a remote setting versus being in the office; facing reductions in force, shifting and adding responsibilities as teams adjust to smaller numbers, and an increase in focus on mental well-being.
  • Financial – Businesses are seeing more and more unplanned expenses while dealing with decreasing revenues.
  • Compliance – With new legislation, such as FFCRA and the CARES Act, HR professionals, in particular, have been actively trying to navigate the new internal processes, policies, and procedures which continue to change rapidly.
  • Policies – Policies and procedures look different now than they did at the beginning of the year. PTO is being highly encouraged – if not required – to be taken ASAP; telecommuting policies have been implemented on the fly; social media guidelines are garnering even more attention during heightened tensions and political conversations; return to work policies have been created, along with COVID-19 exposure processes and guidelines.
  • Mental Well-being – Employees are dealing with rapid changes, increased health concerns, financial strain, and a loss of routine everyday activities. All of these can strain productivity and mental well-being.

So, how can a business owner, a CFO, or an HR professional adjust HR practices to support their organizations and – their biggest asset – their employees?

Prepare for a Future Crisis

Develop an Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response Plan – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that everyone should have a plan for disasters and emergencies. Take this opportunity to reflect upon how your organization addressed COVID-19, and use any opportunities you discuss to prepare your Emergency Plans for the future. Additionally, share similar resources with your employees to help them prepare for disasters and different types of public health emergencies with their loved ones.

Evaluate and Restructure Roles & Responsibilities

Completing an assessment of your current workforce will provide a foundation for retention and re-recruiting strategies. Determine what roles have changed and identify any gaps in knowledge due to layoffs, terminations, or resignations. Prepare a re-recruiting strategy based on the information identified in your assessment.

Re-establish Goals to Align with Corporate Objectives

It’s very possible that company goals have shifted and changed over the course of the year – pandemic or not. It’s important that your HR team understands any changes to those goals, as they will play a key role in getting employees aligned with the corporate objectives and moving toward the same goal. Failing to get every worker to understand their own part in organizational strategy can easily lead to a failure of the strategy itself.

Be Ambassadors of Company Culture

The culture that contributed to the growth of the organization can be destroyed in a heartbeat during a crisis. How can HR fill this role of a Company Culture Ambassador? By engaging employees, maintaining open communication both ways, and by finding creative opportunities for connection and collaboration, HR professionals can begin to mend any damaged ties that maintained the company culture.

And in these particularly tense times, strive to have a respectful, collaborative, and supportive environment – an environment that helps employees to understand, value, and accept differences between people by providing the opportunity to discuss differences in a structured manner.

Communicate with Empathy

Communication is one of the most critical aspects of organizational success and an area in which HR must master and lead by example. It is important to be transparent, empathetic, and to respond with understanding and concern. Be an advocate and let both the leaders of the organization and the employees know you care about their well-being and their future.

Address Employee Development and Succession Planning

If there is an opportunity to take advantage of completing rainy day projects or training, strive to make it meaningful. Now is a good time to address any compliance-related training. Consider a survey to learn what employees want to learn, or take this opportunity to upskill those still on your team by taking advantage of virtual training opportunities.

In the last few months, professionals have had to be extremely agile and willing to adjust their HR practices. Now more than ever, HR’s involvement in day-to-day and strategic planning is integral to the future success of an organization. The future of HR’s role will continue to evolve, but it is no secret that HR leaders can and will ensure the impact on organizations and the workforce are carefully considered, addressed in a timely fashion, with the well-being of leaders, employees, and the business in mind.

Thank you to Janine Cummings, HR Business Development Consultant, for contributing to this edition of our HR Question of the Week! 

Whatever HR challenge your business may be facing, strategic HR inc. can help! Whether it’s by developing a comprehensive strategic business plan through our HR Strategy services or helping you navigate COVID-19 HR strategy issues, our team of experienced consultants is waiting to partner with you.