Article: Black Swan Events - How does it impact HR Functions?

Employee Assistance Programs

Black Swan Events - How does it impact HR Functions?

Events or occurrences which deviate from a normal life situation and is difficult to predict are known as Black Swan Events. So how do organizations prepare themselves in times like these?
Black Swan Events - How does it impact HR Functions?

Well, we are still debating whether demonetization had a positive effect on the market or not but when the event took place it was one of those incidences where no one had a clue what it was and how will it affect us. Similarly, when Tsunami hit the southern coast of India in 2004, A lot of people were glued to their TV Channels trying to understand what Tsunami was. Though both of these events had a profound impact on the life of the common man it also had a direct impact on the business growth of a lot of companies as well as the people who work in them. These events can be described as Black Swan Events.

According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Ex-Professor at Wharton School of Business Black swan events can be described as an event or an occurrence that deviates from a normal situation and is extremely difficult to predict. 

As we are moving towards a more data-oriented role in HR we sometimes forget that the role of HR is not only driven by data but also by Psychology and in such conditions we expect the HR Team to be at the forefront helping out the employees and not be lost. It is here that the company should create a ‘Black Swan Event Handbook’ in order to prepare itself for such a situation.

Keeping that in mind the following points should be the essentials while creating the Black Swan Event Handbook 

List of Events 

Though it is difficult to map the exact list of events, but you can prepare a list of situations that can be finalized. For example – For Natural/Man Made disaster which require immediate evacuation which are the steps that need to be undertaken in such a situation. In most of the firms, we have fire drills taking place but there is no preparation for any other kind of natural/man-made disaster situation. Similarly, for any situation which might impact the financial health of the company (Example – Complete Stock Market Collapse / Demonetization) the company can work in tandem with the Finance team and understand the benchmarks where the wellbeing/employment of the employees will get affected.

Senior Management Preparedness 

In a Black Swan situation, the Senior Management should work in tandem with the Human Resource team and should be fully prepared to handle all the employee queries and keep the board of directors informed. This will ensure that any sort of rumor is quickly addressed without any having a profound impact on the health of the company


Just like fire drills, the companies should keep on creating modules for analyzing the risk which can have a negative impact on the well-being of the employees and practice those drills. This will ensure that in case of a difficult situation the company has a well-prepared module to handle the situation and the team is not lost finding a solution. 

Finally, we can never prepare a complete list of Black Swan events but our preparedness can be the final step in ensuring that the employee wellbeing is taken care of.

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Topics: Employee Assistance Programs, #Current

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