What the 101-year-old Spanish Influenza, that cost over 50 million lives, failed to teach the world about the 'Humane' in Human Resources, despite warnings from the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with the Harvard Global Health Institute, Covid-19 did!
Deemed to emerge into one of the most difficult global economic situations since the Second World War, the aftermath of the newly rampant and virulent strain of the Novel Coronavirus, (COVID-19) is soon going to change the way one looks at businesses as well as employment.
With the necessary lockdowns and travel restrictions across the nation, in order to contain the COVID-19 from becoming a full-blown pandemic, businesses across the globe have come to an abrupt halt, clinging closer into a global recession.
China, the economic powerhouse of the world is already witnessing a drastic economic descent in the last quarter of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020. It is also estimated that Europe and the United States of America is soon to follow, albeit with a delay!
After the economic epidemic started in China and spread to the entire world, the damages to the world economy is set to witness repercussions like no other! Not having experienced anything like this in their entire lifetime, the majority of India’s youthful workforce is all set to witness uncertainties. One could very well risk losing their jobs as businesses restructure employee workforce and many shut down operations, and with the said layoffs, India could very well witness a domino effect!
In these trying times, corporations should vouch to look after the needs of the employees in distress. An HR professional should bring the humane back into the workings of the corporations. The decisions taken by Human Resources impact the livelihood of the employees, and the entire workforce in a nutshell. This includes their ability to earn money to pay for essentials like food and housing among other expenses. All of these are at a risk for a few months.
Although, major corporations and national stock exchanges are plummeting in value, with major corporations losing up to one-thirds of their value already, the past performance trends, capable management and resource base can often act as a guarantee that the company will survive.
However, outbreaks such as COVID-19 may be inevitable looking at the current state of healthcare, lack of preparedness and its virulent nature in itself, their economic counterparts need not! With the right guidance and directions, the management behind every company can be educated about the risks in order to hedge against the same! Through an effective health security insurance, the companies can alleviate the crippling aftermath, for their workforce as well as to secure their own standings…
However, the question an HR professional should raise is for the future of the workforce. How long will the repercussions last? Nonetheless, the management need not leave their workforce hanging… One of the concerns that the HR department of every company is expected to fulfil, something that has lately been acknowledged as a grave concern, is the issue of mental health, the cause of which has almost always been looked away. Completely disregarded, with the layoffs, the not-so-headstrong employees, who are already troubled by the adverse effects of lockdown, might resort to extreme measures. They may commit suicides! To help the company and its employees during such hardships, the HR department can propose salary cuts instead of layoffs! This can be for a predetermined time period. For an instance, the management can announce reducing the staff salaries by up to 25% for a period of 6 months so that the company survives and no staff needs to be laid off!
One cannot stress on infrastructure enough! The Human Resource department should ensure that all the employees have capable work laptops to complete their day-to-day tasks. It is during such times that traditional old-fashioned set ups including those of our Governmental department structures, face trouble as their operations are crippled. This move saves the employees from risking their lives to reach office amid lockdown as they can now work from home, a concept that is increasingly being accepted in India!
With the hope that mankind learns from, what appears to be yet another global pandemic, Harvard Global Health Institute’s Research Fellow, Peter Sands’ eloquent explanation, “Neurobiologically conditioned, as we are, to pay attention to stark contrasts and sudden changes, we often overlook slow moving changes in our environments that may herald disastrous consequences,” from ‘Outbreak Readiness and Business Impact’ can be taken as a case-study. With a heavy heart, there is something for every HR professional to take home to think about… the cause of the working man, amid a global pandemic!