HR’s Role in Guiding Businesses Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Team SI on Wednesday, May 06, 2020

As some states plan their reopenings, businesses and their employees continue to feel the impact of COVID-19. Businesses will have to adapt to social distancing in the workplace, continued school and daycare closures, and the implementation of new policies. In this unprecedented time, human resources professionals play a part in stabilizing the business and walking leadership and employees through policy changes. They also have a hand in keeping employees mentally fit and connected. Our SHRM-certified HR manager, Lauralee Scroggins, helped us come up with three ways HR departments can guide businesses and help employees during this uncertain time.

Be an Information Bank

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Especially during COVID-19, rules and circumstances are constantly changing. HR needs to be aware of these changes in order to provide the best guidance possible.

It’s important to give timely information to leadership regarding policy and benefit changes. That information is used to help develop policies and strategies in order to keep business goals intact and keep employees safe.

Being transparent with employees is also paramount. Employees look to HR for information regarding policy changes and general information on the company. A new trend with this pandemic is that employees are also looking to their employers for information regarding COVID-19 itself, another area in which HR has been beneficial.

Show Empathy and Compassion

Realize how far little things can go when employees are mentally taxed from handling multiple roles while working from home and coping with the pandemic. Empathy and compassion can go a long way in helping employees get through this challenging time.

It can be difficult to draw lines between work life and home life when working remote, and this can make employees feel stretched thin. Help them stay refreshed by encouraging healthy habits like taking breaks or PTO and setting boundaries on work schedules.

If you have access to an employee assistance program (EAP), make sure your employees are aware of its services. This pandemic and the uncertainty of the future is taking a toll on mental health and it’s important to have resources and tools that you can refer to employees.

Create Ways to Boost Employee Morale

Social distancing, while necessary, can dampen employee morale. Push directors and department heads to check in on their employees and come up with simple ways to boost morale. Several of our teams do virtual happy hours, coffee breaks or lunch breaks over video conferencing to take a breather from work and feel the closeness of a team atmosphere. We also hold a weekly staff meeting via video conferencing to get everyone together on one call. Leaders have encouraged costumes and fun backgrounds, which has added a light and fun element to these virtual get-togethers.

Use your employees’ skills! We’ve partnered with an employee who teaches yoga in his free time to share his yoga classes with the organization. It gets people moving and gives a much-needed break.

To end, there’s no handbook for a crisis like this pandemic. It’s a “learn-as-you-go” scenario and HR is proving to be more valuable than ever. Everything from laws, policies and benefits, to recruitment, retention, onboarding and training are going to change because of this crisis. But HR professionals are getting the chance to flex their skills and help organizations navigate what’s to come.