HR Team’s dealing with a Pandemic

By Aditya Mishra | March 14, 2020

There have been many pandemics in the world from cholera, various kinds of flu to plague and HIV/AIDS. Each time a pandemic has struck, it has claimed thousands of lives, disrupted sources of livelihood and caused widespread fear. Naturally, businesses are impacted as a result of such pandemics. What can the HR Team do while dealing with such situations?

Agility matters

It is natural to expect employees to panic at this hour. They have to answer a range of questions from customers, suppliers to business partners. They have uncertainties and anxieties in their families and among friends. They come under a lot of stress dealing with several unknowns and making guesses, essentially. More often than not, some influencers spread negativity and profess negativity. Some of them choose to remain in ignorance and end up doing all kinds of things which have been specifically prescribed to be avoided.
Employees need help at this hour in dealing with the sudden spurt in queries on their tables and additional efforts to install the Plan-B. The HR team has to work super-quick in putting together the answers to the frequently occurring queries and objections. They have to show a high degree of empathy in their conversations so that they have clarity about the Do’s and Don’ts for their roles; at the same time, their organisation’s response towards the pandemic.

Act against irresponsible behaviours

In the current scenario of Covid19 outbreak, we see some people mocking the advisory issued by health organisations and violating them with impunity. Organisations have been cancelling events, conferences and non-essential gatherings; advising employees to take additional efforts for their hygiene and avoiding interactions with people who are at greater threat of carrying the virus, and more such. Yet some employees ignore these instructions irresponsibly and end up spreading the pandemic further.
Sometimes, HR teams become mute spectators to such behaviours and do not act on the erring employees. They must act right and quickly to demonstrate the organisation’s commitment to employees’ health and the well-being of the community around them.

Act affirmatively to optimise performance

At these testing times, many employees cannot turn up to work, customers reduce their orders, supply chains develop fractures and sometimes the backup options do not measure up to the expected levels. Yet the business has to run, it has to cater to its fixed costs, renegotiate its promises to the customers, vendors and business partners, and deliver upon its renewed promises. There can be no let-up on performance drive.
The HR team has to proactively communicate through the ranks of management to drive performance results. It is not unusual to lose precious work hours in discussions about the environment and one cannot avoid it completely. We have to take all steps to prevent dilution of focus on the results, customer engagements and operational focus. Teams have to innovate effective methods of working remotely, engaging with customers, vendors and business partners, keeping the backup plans at a high degree of preparedness.