HR professionals are needed now more than ever. It is our opportunity as a profession to demonstrate our value and contribution to an organisation’s success and their long-term growth. Organisation’s are increasingly seeing the value their employees bring and how critical they are to achieving operational success.

There are a number of actions HR practitioners have taken already to help businesses respond and recover through this pandemic. These are four of the key ways I am seeing HR practitioners step up and demonstrate their value:

  • Assessing the impact and responding – they are assisting in setting up infrastructure and technologies to enable people to work from home, reviewing flexible working & leave policies, managing site closures, and managing compensation & benefits for impacted employees.
  • Communicating effectively – they are providing up-to-date, accurate information on the pandemic and what it means for employees, introducing new tools such as video conferencing to stay connected and to help keep the business operating.
  • Protecting the employee experience – they are setting up virtual check-ins and other ways for managers and employees to connect, implementing hygiene guidelines other health and safety & well-being initiatives whilst ensuring productivity is still at the forefront.
  • Planning and managing cost-saving initiatives – they are advocating for an increase in the use of technology to replace some of the operational components of the business and are freezing new hiring or finding innovative alternatives to reduce labour costs during this time.

As we move through to the next phase where employees are transitioning back into the workplace and businesses are stepping back into operation, we need to shift our thinking to what to focus on next despite changing demands.

HR practitioners should start to think about and plan for if they are not already, for the following:

  • HR team’s capability – HR practitioners should review their own function and team ensuring they have the right capabilities, skills, and structure to support the business for the long haul.
  • Protecting the employee experience – consider ways to sustain employee morale & engagement, revisit workforce plans, restore employee trust and confidence, and reassess the skills & capabilities required now & into the future.
  • Short and long term HR planning – HR practitioners should consider setting short and long term people priorities. It is really important to not lose focus on talent and capability for longer-term organisational success. Leadership is arguably more critical now than ever!
  • Communicating effectively – Communicate to cultivate trust, visibility and collaboration between all employees. Communicate with purpose and inspiration to boost employee wellbeing, morale, and productivity.
  • Planning and managing cost-saving initiatives – identify ways to reprioritise HR service offerings and projects, reallocate resources and work tasks, and redesign ways of working.

Organisations need to think about how this pandemic is also impacting their customers and the things it needs to do differently to ensure customer trust, ways to show empathy and compassion,  to ensure stability around what is changing and what it is not changing and to instill hope in demonstrating what the future looks like. But in order to create this, organisation’s need to start with creating these things with their employees first and HR should be at the forefront to help lead the way.

What are some of the ways you are ensuring trust, compassion, stability, and hope in employees through this next stage of the pandemic?