As the spread and severity of COVID-19 continues to grow, the guardian of employee welfare—Human Resources—is helping leaders and businesses to ensure consistent people practices and wellbeing. From assuring employee safety to designing policies that support virtual working and communicating frequently—HR is front-ending the new normal.
At Wipro HR Services, we’ve implemented policies and procedures to help us deliver seamlessly for our clients, ensure colleague safety engagement, and prepare for the future. We’ve put together these best practices to help other HR organizations who are probably in the same boat or trying to stay afloat!
Start with employee safety.
Ensuring employee safety should be the first and foremost priority. Establish a virtual environment that encourages employees to stay indoors and follow precautions and provide them accurate information at regular intervals. Convert activities that require face-to-face interaction, such as candidate interviewing and onboarding, into virtual engagements via WebEx, Skype, or any other collaboration tools that you use. Since employees (Human) are our most important assets (Resources), the support needed can extend beyond work. For example, if an employee is facing difficulty securing an apartment during this time, help by securing temporary housing solutions (hostels/hotels, etc.). If needed, HR can even make housing arrangements by liaising with existing corporate vendors for the employee.
Don’t forget about repatriate employees.
The return of employees, either working on client locations or working remotely, to their native countries has been common during the pandemic. Often overlooked, this movement could impede organizational performance and lead to negative employee experiences. Hence, special attention needs to be given to the movement of repatriate employees. HR team should create a road map that addresses the ideal time to repatriate colleagues and the logistical challenges that may arise.
Counter job insecurity with frequent communication.
According to ILO, the coronavirus pandemic can increase global unemployment and underemployment by almost 25 million by the end of 2020. As a result, working poverty is on the rise and so is job insecurity. To combat distress, fear, and anxiety among employees, HR must consult with the management and promote dialogue on sensitive subjects, such as staffing concerns and alternative work models. HR can help managers identify and address such situations and direct those employees who may need help to counseling sessions facilitated by partner wellness organizations.
Engage with everyone (especially those who aren’t remote work–enabled).
Team up with individuals to form groups to ensure proper engagement with everyone, especially those without a laptop or desktop. There can be weekly games and quizzes to keep them engaged. Invite leaders to team chats (virtual) or team meetings to share inspiring stories and boost colleague morale.
Help employees feel productive.
Work with business teams to set clear objectives. This will enable colleagues to determine their performance as they achieve organizational goals. Accomplishing tasks helps employees feel valued for their contribution and gives them a sense of purpose.
Recognize even the smallest contributions.
Partner with business teams to recognize exceptional employee performance. Recognition can be in the form of public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, and other personal learning and development opportunities. Virtual R&R sessions have seen a jump recently and act as an excellent motivator.
Promote digital adoption.
Today, digital is a lifeline and, in more ways than one, the primary mode of operation. From conducting online appraisals to talking about project deliverables via WebEx or any virtual mode of communication, leaders are focused on digital engagement. To maintain business continuity, HR can facilitate online transitions and virtual onboardings. Beyond business-centric meetings, team-connects that focus on fun and positivity should be organized.
Stay vigilant for misconduct with employees.
According to Gartner, this time is susceptible to employee misconduct. Ongoing uncertainty can increase the chance of employee misconduct by 33%. Hence, HR should work with managers to encourage whistleblowers to call out unethical behaviors. Remind colleagues about channels for reporting misconduct and strict measures in case of non-compliance.
Encourage employees to learn from home.
To recover from the after-effects of this pandemic, organizations are investing in learning. Compliance training and professional development can be completed digitally, remotely, and immediately. Encourage employees to use outside learning platforms, such as Udemy and UpGrad, to learn a new skill or polish an existing one.
Replace your in-person training with online sessions to keep employees productive. Fun, bite-sized, and on the go learning was already ranking up in the new learning models, and it’s only bound to get more popular.
Look forward to a safe and successful tomorrow.
The sudden outbreak of COVID-19 has pushed the world into unchartered territory. I would agree that uncertainty is palpable in these challenging times. However, take comfort that we are all in it together! Be grateful for what we have and count our blessings. Be more generous, more giving, more patient, and always kind. Celebrate the small wins. Cheerlead for our teams to deliver what they can with a smile. Listen to our people. Talk to them about their days. Also, record our learnings and share them with others.
Throughout human history, people have counted on each other and triumphed over crisis together. Today’s challenge is no different. Stay home and stay safe.