The outbreak of Coronavirus has brought everything to a standstill. From offices to local markets, everyone is maintaining social distancing to contain the spread of the virus. The situation is threatening for our health as well as the global economy. Now, with the economic recession, another most devastating phenomenon is a ‘Social Recession’ which is occurring due to the pandemic led lockdown. It is the result of forced isolation that impacts the social and mental health of people. The decline in social interactions during the working from home period and virtual face-to-face interactions with colleagues has left a negative impact on the employees’ mental health.
Since HR plays a substantial role in managing employees, the period of COVID-19 is transforming their roles into counsellors, mentors and motivators. With limited social contact, the recession is harming the efficiency, productivity and agility of the employees at work. To mitigate the consequences of Social Recession, the HR managers are working on more adaptable and resilient strategies to provide a clear vision about the organization to further boost the morale of the employees.
The takeaway from the last recession
Unlike the last recession, the scenario is going to be worse. The current pandemic situation has a direct impact on human health and then on the economy. It is going to get difficult for HR managers to declutter business expenses by altering the workforce. At this period, every business needs operational and cost-efficiency. Thus, shrinking the workforce has to be a thoughtfully planned process. To carry it out in the most subtle manner, the HRs focusing on creating a mix of strategies that are going to be mutually beneficial for the organization as well as its employees.
To deal with the economic distress at the time of social recession, the HRs are focusing on terminating the employees with dignity. Instead of telling the employees abruptly to leave the organization, they are finding ways to counsel them, extending their notice period or providing additional pay.
Layoff during an uncertain time such as the COVID-19 pandemic is humiliating. It requires sensitivity while sharing the bad news with the employees. Thus, the managers need to respond in an appropriate way that could help employees in managing their living, finding a new job and planning their future.
Redesigning employee roles
The social recession has a mix of effects on an organization. For some employees, it serves as a positive sign while for others it could have a negative impact on their mental health. To deal with economic uncertainty, organizations go for downsizing their workforce which further puts an organization’s performance and reputation at risk. Regardless of economic benefits, it brings loss of trust and knowledgeable people that has an adverse impact on the organization.
To maintain the company’s reputation and values, HRs are carefully working on reinventing the team structure. They are redesigning the job roles to enhance the performance of an organization which is a much better strategy than cutting down the workforce. They are working on recreating experiences that involve fewer expenses, improves efficiency and employee’s productivity. Additionally, HRs are adopting advanced technology solutions that are effective in reducing operational costs, improving flexibility and honing of employees’ skills.
Every recession requires organizations to be more resilient and this comes with employees acquiring new skills. To create a striking balance between the social and economic recession, HRs are focusing on the training of their employees. While considering the criteria of being socially interactive and engaging, they are creating new training plans and revising the existing ones. This results in the development of employees and gives them more opportunities to identify their purpose and role in the organization. Furthermore, it brings a positive change at the workplace by offering new approaches to work and also allowing it to stay competitive in the market.
Besides training and development, the HR managers are focusing on redesigning the compensation programmes. They are influenced by the organization’s economic and social recessionary times. Creating an overall balance in the base and incentive pay is imperative as the expenses for health programmes of employees might go up during the time of distress.
During the social recession, HRs understand that financial benefits are not the only source of motivation for employees. Thus, they are bringing changes to the workplace by organizing interactive programmes for the mental well being of the employees.