For many of us, it may feel as though the current lockdown and subsequent weeks of remote working have lasted a lifetime. The rapid pace of change that we have seen in a few short weeks has resulted in HR teams having to crisis manage in an environment that nobody saw coming just a few months ago. It has meant that we are all operating in a very fluid, difficult working situation. HR teams have had to work diligently to develop emergency workforce plans, determine how remote working can be applied and to navigate the change in a way that reflects their organisation’s values and behaviours as much as possible to maintain engagement with the workforce.
It is a challenging world we’re living in and HR’s role in assessing the strategic response has been crucial. We took a look at that in our first ‘crisis management’ webinar last week which focused on the immediate ‘reaction activities’ required by HR to respond to the pandemic. But we are working on ever-shifting tectonic plates and we now need to focus on the ‘supporting activities’ that HR teams need to undertake to ensure businesses can continue to engage their workforce effectively, provide the appropriate wellbeing support and, perhaps most importantly, lead with conviction through the uncertainty.
So yesterday we ran our second webinar which looked at these supporting activities, where we shared examples of what HR teams are doing from all different industry sectors. The webinar can be viewed here ‘on demand’ if you’d like to listen to some of the practical steps and advice we covered.
As an overview, listed below are some of the key topics covered – which form the middle five sections of our 12-point-plan (resources of which and more information we have here) – from the webinar that we think are critical activities for all HR teams right now.
How are you constantly engaging with your employees with so many working remotely? What are the ways in which you can maintain ‘cultural congruence’ within your business? Who owns the engagement activities? Do you have an ongoing plan of activities for the duration of the lockdown period?
Wellbeing is important at any time but, in the current circumstances, it is even more vital that businesses provide the wellbeing support needed by their workforce and that this support addresses both physical and mental health. Is your current wellbeing offering robust enough to address the current situation? What additional support could you provide? How can line managers spot wellbeing issues especially when home working?
Your leaders and managers are responsible for playing a critical role in the wellbeing and engagement of employees so how can HR support them to be as effective at this as possible? Are your leaders behaving in a way that reflects your organisational values in a time of crisis?
How do your people policies need to change to reflect the demands of the current crisis such as absence, home working and furlough arrangements? Do you need to develop any new policies? Now isn’t the time for detailed, long-winded documents; line managers need short, clear guidelines to help them to manage people effectively and make decisions quickly.
Regulation and compliance
The government guidance on how we deal with things like carrying over statutory holiday and conducting right to work checks is changing in response to the crisis. How can you interpret this guidance for your business? For any organisations operating in a regulated environment, do the new ways of working and workforce challenges impact your ability to comply with the regulatory requirements?
We are living in an ever-changing ‘here and now’ and the two webinars we have run have so far have intended to help HR teams to respond to the crisis in an agile way. But there will come a time in the near future in which normality resumes and, when that happens, we need to be ready to manage the transition effectively. Our final webinar on 21st April will look at exactly that i.e. what activities and plans do you need to think of to ensure you ‘thrive’ after this current crisis has abated as well as sharing thoughts on what the ‘new normal’ may look like.
You can also listen to podcasts that we launch every Wednesday on the ‘HR on the Offensive’ podcast which tackle all of the issues that people are facing right now (our podcast page can be found here). In addition we have a dedicated page of free resources that are designed to help HR teams with advice, insight and support, here on our webpage Managing and optimising your workforce during global uncertainty.
If you’d like to talk to us about the HR challenges you are facing and how you are responding, you can call us on +44 (0) 7808 167 048 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.