Over the past six months business in the United States has changed dramatically. We have gone from exceptionally low levels of unemployment and a healthy economy to a work environment where 40+ million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance, business failures and constant chaos. During this time HR has played a unique role in developing polices to meet this challenge. However, given that the pandemic will not be ending until a vaccine is available and administered; HR will need to adapt and play a strategic role that is focused on three areas to assist their employees work more effectively, become more productive and improve communication.
Using Technology to Work Effectively
Technology over the past several months has been the life support for many employers as they continue to have many of the team members working remotely. Internet applications such as Teams ©, WebEx © and Zoom © are invaluable program to support the sharing of information. HR will need to continue to support these strategies so that employees remain in touch, are given information to complete their daily tasks. Training and webinars to support on-going learning will help build confidence to empower the staff to learn how to utilize these tools. Video conferencing will be the future of most meetings and serve as the key communication tool.
Providing the Staff Tools to be More Productive
Many of the employee’s resources before the pandemic were just down the hall from where they worked. Whether it was an HR issue, a systems problem resolved by IT or a product pricing question answered by the Sales department; these issues were handled by reaching out to those employees that could address the issue quickly and efficiently. Today that is not necessarily the case. HR now and in the future will need to create a checklist to ensure that the employees have the tools to be productive. This may include a FAQ of typical problems that employees may encounter while working remotely and to whom they should contact. One of the most common issues raised in our pandemic survey was the lack of resources to deal with systems issues. While many employees are skilled in their technical area of expertise, systems challenges remain a significant burden for many staff members working remotely. In addition to a checklist HR will need to periodically audit what is need by the staff to determine what has changed over time and how they can address their needs.
Communicate, Communicate and Communicate
Employee communication while always a challenge will need to be further enhanced to ensure that managers are successfully supervising their staff. This will help guarantee that they have the tools to be successful in this new normal. Constant and consistent communication will be critical as employees will be working Independently with little supervision and minimal support. Managers and the leadership team will need to be highly organized to evaluate roadblocks that their staff may encounter and determine the best course of action to address these barriers to success. Daily communication from managers to their direct staff, weekly communication from the division leaders and monthly communication from the leadership team will need to be calendared and adhered to. Given so much uncertainty in the business environment along with insecurity in one’s personal life a structured work environment will help.
While the challenges of COVID-19 are many, human ingenuity and the resourcefulness of the Human Resources profession has not changed. Your team will learn new skills, become more effective communicators and contribute to the success of your business.