As coronavirus pervades every aspect of life, many companies (big and small) are grappling with how to support their employees during this time when there are many unknowns. And in many of these organizations, employees look to their leaders, in particular, HR for guidance as they navigate through the unknown territory of this pandemic.
Nathan Christensen wrote an insightful guide for HR managers on TLNT.com titled
These tips include:
- “Communicate honestly and openly with employees. It can be tempting to shelter employees from fears and risks, especially since high stress has been shown to destroy trust and inhibit empathy. But it’s likely your employees are already thinking about the issues keeping you up at night.
- Invite employees into the challenge. Surviving during a crisis requires creative and innovative thinking, as well as a willingness on the part of everyone to rise to the occasion. Focus your team on the purpose of your company’s work and the challenges ahead, and invite employees to seek new ways to contribute to the mission of the company, deliver its values, and achieve its strategic objectives. If your employees are invested in your culture, company, and mission, they will respond.
- Practice “open-source HR.” One of the unique aspects of the COVID-19 crisis is how broadly it has affected employers. Reach out (virtually) to other business and HR leaders in the community, perhaps through social media groups or by hosting virtual chats.
- Pay close attention to the new legislation that is being passed in response to COVID-19. Laws like the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, New York’s paid sick leave for COVID-19, and Colorado’s emergency rules for paid sick leave are important efforts to help employees who have lost pay and work, but they also bring new compliance requirements to employers.
- Protect against any semblance of discrimination. During periods of significant change, it’s important to make sure that any actions taken with respect to employees do not discriminate or appear to discriminate based on an employee’s protected class. There are legitimate business reasons for treating groups of employees differently.
- Manage your employees holistically.Employees working from home may have additional distractions or disruptions they’re not used to managing during the workday. It’s also possible that employees or their family members are experiencing distressing financial or health-related circumstances. Prioritize the health of not only your employees, but also their support network. If an employee is sick, give them time to get well and forego asking for a doctor’s note (health care professionals are already overwhelmed). Employers shouldn’t lower their standards for employee performance — that can also have a negative impact. But a little flexibility can have a big impact on employee wellbeing, commitment, and contribution.
- Understand limitations on privacy. If you need to have a difficult conversation with an employee, such as to notify them of a layoff or furlough, keep in mind that if they are working from home, the conversation may not be a private one. There may be a child, spouse, or roommate in the room with them, which can make it challenging for the employee to process the information and communicate openly.”
Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on businesses across every industry and, to the global economy as a whole. Organizations in the immediate term, need to ensure that the health and safety of their employees above all else, come first. In the short and long term, covid-19 will change the way businesses operate and compete.
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