The rapid spread of the Coronavirus is putting a severe strain on the global economy. In attempts to contain the virus, governments around the globe are imposing travel restrictions, curfews, lockdowns, and more. The role of HR in managing an organization’s workforce during these times of emergency is huge. As an HR manager, you must manage your employees properly during this Coronavirus crisis and keep them productive so the business can overcome the economic crisis turmoil that will likely follow this pandemic. The International Labor Organization has declared that nearly 25 million employees could lose their jobs due to the Coronavirus situation. A timely business strategy can help your employees to work as effectively as possible during the crisis period. While developing the strategy, all the essential aspects of your organization should be taken into consideration. You should also make it a point to put your employees first no matter what and keep them engaged while they work remotely. Here are some tips to help you manage your employees efficiently during a global pandemic situation:
Have a risk management plan
Anything can happen during a crisis, so it’s important to have emergency responses prepared. As an HR manager, you should assess the different risks to the business and seek expert advice to help create a risk management plan. Take measures to reduce the impact of the crisis on your employees. This will foster trust from them, and they will not hesitate to support your organization throughout the pandemic.
Communicate this plan to your employees
The first step to effective crisis management is communication. Make employees aware of the potential impact of the crisis on your organization. Communicate the situation to your employees without creating panic. Enlighten them on the steps your organization is taking to mitigate any adverse effects the situation may have on individual employees or the business as a whole. Hiding vital information can create distrust and resentment within your workforce, leading to lower productivity and employee satisfaction. Also, ensure that your employees have access to reliable information about the crisis, and educate them about preventive measures they can take to reduce the spread of the disease. Take advantage of multiple internal communication channels to make sure that your employees stay informed.
Enforce a travel ban
International travel restrictions are necessary to contain the spread of a virus like COVID-19 in your workplace. Exposure to those infected with the Coronavirus during travel has been one of the major contributors to the spread of the disease. In this kind of situation, it’s important to explain the gravity of the problem to employees and enforce a travel ban. Encourage them to postpone their personal travel plans as well. For those employees that travelled before the ban was implemented, ask them to get tested if they show any mild symptoms. Even if they are tested negative for the virus, persuade them to quarantine themselves for at least two weeks and return to the office after getting a fitness certificate.
Tweak your attendance policies
It’s likely that employees will be absent more during emergencies. Ensure there is sufficient sick leave available to all your employees, even if that means adjusting your attendance policies. Some of your employees or their relatives may fall sick. Sick employees must not return to work until they recover. Communicate the special leave policy to all your employees as some may be hesitant to take time off even if they develop symptoms of the virus. If employees don’t take time off when they need it, the chances of other employees contracting the virus become very high. Lastly, provide paid leave to employees who have been exposed to someone with the illness regardless of whether they show symptoms or not.
Establish a work from home policy
With curfews and lockdowns possible during events like this, it’s necessary to provide a work from home option to all your employees. Ensure that there is a remote work policy in place to help employees understand what is expected from them when they work from home. Mention the number of hours your employees are expected to work, any channels of internal communication, and details about data security. This will help you manage your employees better during the crisis. Before drafting the policy, be sure to take employee expectations into account as well.
Use the right technology
The right technology and clear communication is the key to a productive and engaged remote workforce. Routine work can’t be accomplished from home without the right technology tools. For example, you might need tools that allow for video conferences to communicate with partners, clients, and their peers. Use simple file sharing tools instead of depending on email every time. Ensure that you have an attendance tracker to maintain your employee’s attendance and track their working hours. With the right tech tools, the quality and quantity of your work will not be sacrificed even while you and your employees work remotely.
At Zoho, our HR team has been proactive in taking the right steps to contain community spreading during this Coronavirus outbreak. While we would never hope for it, this situation has taught us that global pandemics are a very real threat to the world’s health and economy. Everyone has a part to play in helping to mitigate disasters like this. As an HR manager, we hope these tips made you feel a little more prepared to handle the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and any other crisis events in the future.