6 Questions Every HR Leader Should Ask To Guide Their Response To COVID-19

    How did your company take care of you during the pandemic?

    Before deciding whether or not applying for a company is a wise undertaking, you often ask yourself how big the salary is, how demanding the workload is, and how long and how often will you be working. Fast forward to today’s pandemic era, there’s another critical question that might impact your decision: how did the company take care of its employees during the pandemic?

    According to Brian Kropp, Distinguished Vice President, Research, Gartner, how the organization answers this question will provide a window into the organization’s values.

    If you’re an HR leader who’s working on an effective response to COVID-19, here are 6 guide questions to ensure that every strategy is designed to protect and  support employees during the pandemic.

    How will you support furloughed employees?

    Some businesses, particularly in the retail, food, and technology sectors, had to temporarily shut down operations in light of the imposed lockdowns.

    Good companies pledge to continue paying their staff while their workplaces are closed. The HR staff does all the legwork to make sure their employees get all the benefits or calamity-related financial aids they can get from the government and other organizations. Other HR solutions include connecting their employees to other fast-hiring sectors to arrange temporary, short-term jobs

    How will the HR support employees who were laid off?

    Hard-hit employers had to let some of their employees go, and it’s one of the hardest decisions for any organization. While it’s a business resolution that’s deemed necessary, how they send their employees off may tell a lot about their brand’s value.

    Good employers may continue assisting their employees by connecting them to other companies (particularly partners) experiencing a demand for workers to make sure they land a new job shortly.

    How will the HR handle employees’ return to the workplace?

    An organization’s human resources department may not be well-versed in the medical field but they play a big role in response to the ongoing pandemic.

    When deciding which employees should return to the workplace, when, and how, employers should be deferring to the government guidelines. They shouldn’t allow their employees to go back without having solid reentry strategies in place. HR leaders need to consider the following:

    • How they can ensure employees that it’s safe for them to return utilizing better communication strategies backed by research
    • How safe and accessible public transportation is for commuting employees
    • Were there any safety measures taken to ensure the safety of the workplace? (e.g. disinfection measures, rearranging workstations to allow safe physical distancing, provision of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizers, promoting skeletal workforce to limit overcrowding, etc)
    • How they can handle the anxieties of those who are hesitant to come back.
    • Are there any special work arrangements for employees who are deemed high-risk? (employees who are older, pregnant, immune-compromised, and those who are living in high-risk areas)

    How will the company reward its front line employees?

    Treating frontline employees pizza and soda as a reward for forcing them to show up at work unprotected is never acceptable. Frontline employees put their own health at risk every day when they go to the workplace. To acknowledge their efforts, the company may provide hazard pay, cash bonuses, and even pay increases.

    How will the company support remote work employees?

    Let’s be honest: the entire world wasn’t prepared for a full-time work-from-home setup, but most companies had no choice but to implement it to keep their business afloat. It all boils down to whether or not the employers were able to recognize their employees’ sentiments (like poor internet connectivity, outdated devices, and unfavorable working conditions) and come up with practical HR solutions.

    How can we prevent layoffs?

    A good employer who values their employees hates to see anyone go. With this, they will do their best to retain their employees while keeping the business’ financial health steady.

    To avoid layoffs, many organizations were pressured to cut payroll costs. Some actions include suspending their bonuses and raises, reducing employee benefits, and cutting salaries. At many organizations, senior leaders and CEOs have also agreed to forgo part of their own pay, sending a message to employees that every level in the company is sacrificing for the better good.

    The pandemic drastically changed the way we behave and make better choices. Aside from learning how to improve their health and lifestyle, people have also learned the importance of working for a company that knows how to value their employees during this difficult time. For some people who learned the lesson the hard way, it took a global catastrophe for them to realize that they deserve better.

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