With the COVID-19 pandemic changing everyday life as we know it, businesses have been charged with the responsibility of analyzing and adapting current workplace policies to provide a comprehensive response to the outbreak that puts both the employees and the customer first. Now more than ever, businesses are leaning on the strengths of their HR departments in hopes that they can safely limit the disruptions to day-to-day operations, calm employee anxiety, and answer the tough questions, all while effectively implementing a pandemic plan. The efficacy of HR departments will be one of the essential factors in determining survival, post-pandemic. These are the crises that strong HR departments prepare for, and the importance of HR representation has become increasingly evident for businesses without them. Here are a few considerations as we start to come out of strict isolation orders and are faced with new challenges, new communication needs, and new ways of working.
Be transparent about the future of your company, the future of employment, and what your business is going through. We are quite literally all in this together, facing the many challenges this pandemic has to bring. The best response is decisive action and authentic communication that leaves employees with a sense of assurance. Teams also need clear expectations in this time of change and uncertainty. Implement a remote work policy that covers when you expect your team to be online or available, the appropriate channels to use for communication, and what deliverables each team member is responsible for completing while offsite.
HR and IT teams can collaborate to take work operations, including new hire onboarding online by using apps for training, task calendars, and shareable operational procedures for remote work. Reward and incentivize creative problem solving and the discovery of new tools for increased efficiency and communication. If you’re a brick and mortar business, this is also the perfect time to venture into E-commerce. Cosmetic company Lin Qingxuan, of Wuhan, closed 40% of its stores and took to digital platforms to engage customers virtually. Harvard Business reported that the company’s sales achieved 200% growth compared to the prior year’s sales after shifting business focus to their digital presence.
Life as we know it has certainly changed. With conflicting predictions about how long social distancing will last, you will need to be flexible with your business plan and, most importantly, your employees. Your employees may have school-aged children who are now learning and replicating the school day at home. Similarly, many on your team have elderly family members who need assistance with grocery shopping and essential functions. Flexibility is necessary with regards to your employees’ time; consider new leave policies that apply to remote work. SmallBizTrends reported that “27% of businesses expect the coronavirus to have a moderate to high impact on their revenue while another 30% expect the virus to have a medium to high impact on their supply chain.” Business owners will need to come to terms with altering business plans, which could include but are not limited to reallocating funds to the business areas most significantly impacted, considering near-term capital raising, debt refinancing or policy support from the government as well as the consideration of closing down operations, indefinitely. We’ll likely see specific industries and the most resilient businesses rebound first and faster, with each of us on unique recovery trajectories.
As COVID-19 continues to threaten the survival of many businesses, issues are compounded for small business owners without in-house HR. Outsourcing independent HR contractors to aid your business in creating and implementing short and long term plans is efficient and effective, and maybe just what your business needs to come out of this on the other side. If you’d like additional information on outsourcing Human Resources leadership and services, email us at info@DeepEndStrategies.com.