Human Resource professionals like us who may represent consulting companies, business HR have a responsibility today to advise, handle and address a critical situation which Corona Virus Pandemic has posed. Continuous communication, Awareness, Education, and Participation of employees will be extremely effective; the easier we can make it for them to participate, the greater the engagement we will achieve and together we can devise a coping strategy.
Some of the critical roles of HR in COVID – 19 are mentioned below:
Awareness and Information flow:
We can be proactive and share accurate information with our employees, management team and employees at the client end about coronavirus. To avoid the spread of misinformation, we should share authentically reliable information with employees to ensure they’re relying on facts, not hearsay.HR should ensure that employees aren’t sharing false information or gossiping about others or other practices in-country, globally; as each company has a different work culture and no single solution exists today for all.
HR teams should keep employees safe at work by educating them about:
- Symptoms of Novel Coronavirus can be informed if taken from reliable Sources like DOH.
- On how to avoid potential risks in travel or at the workplace.
- Information about Health care institutions offering assistance
- Advisory on movement or restriction of movement as per respective governments
When someone who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or exhales they release droplets of infected fluid. Most of these droplets fall on nearby surfaces and objects – such as desks, tables or telephones. In such cases we need to:
- Health and safety meetings and information through an intranet
- Make sure our workplaces are clean and hygienic. Each employee and cleaning agencies need to be communicated.
- Ensure cleanliness at the workplace by regularly wiping the surfaces with disinfectants.
- Display posters, banners promoting hand-washing and other hygiene at the workplace.
- Put hand sanitizers, hand wash dispensers in prominent places around the workplace and, make sure these dispensers are regularly refilled.
- When you encourage hand washing to make sure that staff, contractors and customers also have access to places where they can wash their hands with soap and water.
Issue Travel Restrictions
Make sure your organization and its employees have the latest information on areas where COVID-19 is spreading. Traffic advisory for local travel, lockdowns also shall be issued on a regular basis. District-wide travel, countries where travel restrictions apply, etc are some of the areas. Most importantly:
- Issue travel restrictions to places where the cases of Covid 19 have been reported.
- An organization should assess the benefits and risks related to travel plans.
- Avoid sending employees who may be at higher risk of serious illness to areas where COVID-19 is spreading.
- Avoid public transport and crowded places
- Consider issuing employees who travel masks, small bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizers. This can facilitate regular hand-washing and may help in restricting the spread of droplets and cross spread.
Set Clear Policies for Work From Home, Leave and illness
Service sector companies should allow employees to work from home if the work nature allows so- especially for IT, ITES, Consulting it’s easy and effective.
Manufacturing companies should have multiple shifts, reduced work hours or long leaves at this time. Demand / Supply and essential services categories have to understand while setting guidelines/ policies. Some important points:
- Promote regular teleworking across your organization.
- Employees need to be counseled not to shake hands during the day or in meetings or events.
- We can limit in-person meetings possible, and remind them to cough, sneeze into arms, not their hands.
- Do not let people come back to work sick.
- If any employee has cold-cough, respiratory issues don’t allow them to come to work.
- If someone with such symptoms comes to work – isolate. This means no interaction with other people.
- Cancel all public events and avoid mass gatherings, meetings.
- As an HR professional, we should have a plan A, B, and C ready to deploy and should be pro-active in making righteous decisions to balance the work and life. Organization and top management expect rational moves rather than emotional moves which are only possible if HR understands business and crisis management plans are made in tandem with other departments, like finance, production, risk management and IT.