5 Important HR Considerations in the Time of COVID-19

5 Important HR Considerations in the Time of COVID-19

by Leon Reingold 05/06/2020

The crisis unleashed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been unprecedented. The physical and mental wellbeing of people is under enormous threat and business organizations across the globe are starting at an uncertain future.

Different organizations are responding to the crisis in different ways as per their financial standing, nature of business operations, and gravity of outbreak in areas where they operate. In most business organizations, HR departments are leading crisis-response efforts. Here in this post, we will discuss the top five HR considerations in the time of COVID-19-

  1. Remote Work

Given the forced business closures and community quarantine instructions and guidance from the government authorities and health organizations, most companies are asking their employees to work from home.

HR policy experts need to define how their companies will handle workplace shift toward remote work. Not many companies are currently prepared or equipped for a long-term shift. In many companies, some functional roles are not even designed to succeed in a remote work environment.

HR departments need to continually evaluate and improvise to identify success and failure factors of their work-from-home policies.

Some organizational design experts believe that the COVID-19 pandemic may permanently change working patterns in the post-corona world; hundreds and thousands of companies forced to embrace remote working by the Coronavirus pandemic may find that their workers aren’t willing to return to the office once the quarantine is lifted.

  1. Employee Communication

HR should provide timely updates regarding various measures adopted by the company in order to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various business functions.

Updates from business leaders, if any, can be shared via email or video messages.  

From time to time, HR should also provide verified information and trusted links to external sources of information (e.g. the CDC, WHO, local health agencies, law enforcement agencies, etc.) to all employees to keep them abreast of what is happening and how they can be safe.

Employees, who need to undertake inter-city or inter-state travel during the COVID-19 outbreak, should be provided with guidelines in accordance with the travel advisories issued by the government authorities.

If there is a change in workplace or HR policies related to the outbreak, the same should be communicated to the workforce at the earliest. The HR department also needs to address employee concerns, if any, on workplace policies.

  1. Leave Policy

A company may or may not be required by the law to provide employees with sick benefits. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers may need to consider tweaking their leave policies.

For example, employees who are going through 14-day quarantine may be provided with PTO (paid-time-off) leave. Others who are sick or caring for a sick family member may also be covered under an updated leave policy.  

People nowadays have plenty of time on their hands to discuss leave policies of different companies on social networking platforms and form an opinion on what is ‘normal’ in terms of a company’s leave coverage. Potential coverage gaps can dent employee satisfaction and have an adverse impact on company reputation.

HR leadership should carefully examine leave policies of their key competitors or market peers to figure out what their leave coverage should look like.  

  1. Benefits & Employee Wellbeing

The pandemic will impact employees in more ways than we can possibly imagine right now.  Therefore, HR leaders must consider how these changes will affect employees and their needs. Worker wellbeing must be a priority.

Some key considerations are:

  • Health benefits: A business organization that does not offer a health benefits program, may introduce it as a key benefit to its employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Flexible work schedules: Many employees need to support their children at home as schools and daycare centers are closed. Some employees may also need to care for the elderly or sick family members. Such employees can be provided with flexible work schedules.
  • Virtual healthcare: Employees may be interested in availing of virtual healthcare services during the lockdown. Offering to pay for such services or tying up with an established telehealth company can go a long way towards assuring employees that they are cared for.
  • Mental health support:  It is possible that some employees would require mental health support in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, and financial turmoil.
  • Financial counseling: Workers who are financially distressed may require financial counseling.

A company can demonstrate compassion for its employees by extending such benefits to help them through the pandemic.

Many companies have already started offering such benefits to their employees.

For instance, PepsiCo is offering sick pay/short term disability benefits and 100% pay during the 14-day quarantine period to its employees.

Facebook has announced that it’d give a $1000 bonus to each of its employees for incremental expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Amazon has offered unlimited sick pay to employees who test positive for COVID-19.

There are many ways companies are giving back in different ways during the pandemic. Sourcing rapid COVID-19 detection kits to reduce workers’ exposure to the virus can also be perceived as a positive move by an employer. This is particularly helpful for companies that support essential services and have many of their employees coming to offices on a daily basis.

  1. Talent Acquisition

While most companies have frozen hiring, there are others who are keen to use this opportunity to interview and fill key roles. Such a move can also go a long way in instilling confidence in existing employees.

For instance, India-based Tata Consultancy Services recently announced that the company will honor over 40,000 job offers it made to new graduates this year. The company also made it clear that it will not lay off employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Amazon recently announced that it’d hire 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers this year.

Organizations that are better positioned versus the sector can create a strategic hiring roadmap for the year 2020 and innovate at a faster pace than their competitors when the world finally moves past this crisis.  

by Leon Reingold 05/06/2020

I am writing to introduce myself as Leon Reingold. I am the Editor-in-Chief at Drugtestsinbulk.com, a nationwide supplier of drug and alcohol testing products online.

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