Business organizations today face economic and operational uncertainty due to the COVID -19 outbreak. Now more than ever is the time to understand the human & operational side of businesses which encompass compliance, adjusting expectations, renewing focus and repositioning in the wake of the next normal. Thus, there comes a need of managing HR rather understanding the humane aspect of HR.
As per a survey report of EY, the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic will be felt by organizations beyond six months. The survey, which incorporates first-hand perspective of human resource heads of over 100 organizations across sectors in India on the impact of COVID-19, showed that while the COVID-19 impact can be felt by organizations across sectors, 72% of the organizations stated that its impact will be felt even after six months.
The survey entitled ‘HR resilience planning - COVID-19 impact and preparedness’ exhibited that around 70% of the organizations believe that the single biggest concern for continued remote working is fall in productivity.
Major survey results
A significant 53 per cent of Indian businesses indicate the marked impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business operations even at early stages.
- The pandemic has significantly impacted the cash flow at organizations with almost 80 percent reporting a decrease in cash flow.
- The pandemic has had a major impact on the supply chains as more than 60 per cent respondents indicate that their supply chains were affected. The companies also highlighted that they are closely monitoring the situation and expect the impact of the pandemic on the supply chain to worsen further.
- Organizations have brought in a renewed focus on hygiene aspects concerning the pandemic. Nearly 40 percent have put in place strict checks on people entering their offices and decontamination. Nearly 30 per cent organizations have already put in place Work-from-Home policies for their employees.
- Nearly 42 per cent of the respondents feel that it could take upto 3 months for normalcy to return.
COVID-19 is impacting HR practices
Some of the changes that have been taking place and will impact organization in the long run:
- Businesses have started establishing a culture of collaboration among the employees as well as associates using various online tools and resources more than ever before.
- Social distancing has become the new norm, and it is here to remain until there emerges a cure for COVID-19.
- Everyone is now more concerned about maintaining personal hygiene for their own safety and also the others near them.
- Employees could enjoy a better work-life balance with everyone working from home, and no commuting required.
Thus, taking the above in view, HR leaders will need to balance empathy with business continuity and the ability to rethink what performance means in the post-coronavirus world. “As the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak is expected to be high but short-lived, HR leaders need to ensure that they put the right measures in place to deal with the immediate people impact of the crisis. “For HR leaders, this means ensuring that whatever adjustment they make to their approaches and policies now, does not stifle their organizations’ growth in the future.”
With the COVID-19 outburst bringing about exceptional times, companies worldwide have taken steps to reconsider their practices and do what’s best to withstand amidst tough times. For example, some companies are implementing hiring freezes, promotion freezes & wage freezes, while others are introducing remote working substitutions and supplementary financial assistance. And, these all initiatives need to be led by the HR Team.
Main challenges to be faced by HR:
- Business continuity plans
- Manage flexible work arrangements
- Manage employee communication
- Address employee concerns on workplace policies
- Implementation of preventive measures
- Review of current welfare policies
Measures to be taken post Lockdown
- Protection of Personnel
- Social distancing in travel to and from the workplace and during interaction with suppliers and those in distribution chain
- Follow the guidance from the Central Government, State Government. & WHO
- Create Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to ensure preventive measures are executed in a systematic way
- Rise of remote working & collaboration tools
- Implement audit procedures to monitor and ensure safe practices are implemented
- Having an action plan in the event of persons feeling unwell in the workplace
There is no question that the rapid spread of COVID-19 is having an impact on businesses around the world and, notably, on the relationship with the employees. While the situation is unique due to the speed at which this COVID-19 has spread, the moral, ethical & legal considerations are well established for employers. As a starting point, the approach of HR to employees who are unable to work due to self-quarantine is the same as what applies to employees who are unable to come to work due to other illnesses. These legal considerations include obligations under the applicable Human Rights, Occupational Health and Safety and workplace insurance legislation. And, the employees may refuse to attend work due to perceived risks of infection. So, awareness on health and precautionary measures need to be planned by HRD. The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how every organization is attracting, recruiting, and retaining employees on their virtual teams, making remote work the new normal. The major advantages would be that reduction in cost per employee in terms of facilities cost and increase in the flexibility provided to employees Thus, post lockdown, the HR Professionals have to focus & retrospect on such challenges & issues.