Communication, Empathy and Business Continuity — Keeping the Human in Human Resources #Coronavirus

May 6, 2020

We are clearly entering a new era. Coronavirus and infection are changing the way we live. Most of us are working from home, often alongside our children, who are remote learning from home. This new situation has no endpoint – we don’t know how long this will exist – and we are finding new ways to work productively,

For leaders who are trying to keep a team on track, it’s important to communicate. Teams working from home – especially for the first time – miss that water cooler conversation. It’s important to send regular email. Where possible, if teams can set up social, non-work, channels to share photos, jokes, kid stories – digital communication can help offset what we miss in the office.

Individuals working from home need distraction and variety in their day. It’s really easy, and I speak from experience – to wake up, sit in a chair at 6AM and join and online call – and then finish up the last online call at 6PM without ever leaving that same chair.

HR professionals can help by keeping abreast of what’s happening with this global pandemic – and how it influences the way we work. It’s also important, in the face of global change, that managers not resort to micromanaging. Trust and freedom is a key aspect of organizational culture at this critical time.

Also, it’s important to know that many industries, many employees are being paid with no work, or have been laid off or susceptible to businesses failing. For all of us, this is a great time to re-skill – learn something new. We don’t know where this world is headed, but all of us should use this time to improve ourselves – and HR professionals can help organizations grow their workforce.

We don’t know what this world will deliver to us in the next few months, but HR professionals have a great opportunity to put the “human” in Human Resources by focusing on quality of life and reskilling. Some suggestions include;

  • Encourage employees to re-skill
  • Start using those training budget dollars to help employees expand skills.
  • Explore how work from home scenarios increase productivity
  • Draw clear boundaries around work hours
  • Encourage employees to exercise
  • Ensure managers are doing weekly check-ins with employees
  • Develop non-work social channels for employees to communicate
  • Ensure managers are communicating broadly to the team – weekly at a minimum
  • Remind people how their work matters in a time of crisis

We are in a new world of work. We are all learning how to adapt and be productive when we can’t be together and work as a team. This is an opportunity for great teams to rise above the fray and really shine.

HR professionals have the opportunity to be the glue that holds teams and organizations together. To recognize the human challenges of “I’m trying to work from home with my young kids at my feet” or “my teenagers are using wifi on Xbox and I can’t turn on video with my boss.” We are in a new reality, and HR professionals can curate a set of best practices to ease the transition for employees and organizations alike.

This is a time like no other. We have a tremendous opportunity to come together and build strong organizations for the future. A common enemy like coronavirus will make our organizations stronger and will develop our leaders.

Let’s turn this crisis into a strength!