HR supporting and leading during COVID-19 – John Baldino
In this article series, I ask HR senior managers and leaders to discuss ideas on supporting and leading during COVID-19.
Featured guest contribution by John Baldino
What role should HR play to manage the COVID-19 issue unfolding and to lead the way?
John: Employees are at the centre of much of the fiscal and protective policies in place as a result of this pandemic. HR is central to this. The distribution of information, the viability of roles, the change in duties, or the manner with which work gets done all ties in HR.
What should form the core parts of the HR plan?
John: Communication of corporate decisions is key. It’s fine to spend time outlining a plan, but if it’s not distributed well, it will fall flat.
Resource access and distribution will require time to research tools, align to goals and initiatives, as well as detailed plans for remote implementation. HR should be working with IT with some of these considerations.
In balancing the needs and rights of both employee and employer in managing a crisis, what are prime considerations for HR?
John: Individual needs balanced against corporate goals/needs has always been a responsibility for HR. If the current environment has done anything, it has accentuated this reality. An empathetic approach – one of listening, retelling to understand, and offering options for the solution – is still the best tool. Further, taking the time to determine real versus perceived needs. Not everything an employee or employer brings up should rise to the level of need, but rather, want or desire.
Can you provide suggestions on the communication strategy and pitfalls to avoid?
John: To continue to foster a collaborative environment, HR should work with Marketing in a communication plan. Lean on the expertise of those colleagues.
Utilise many avenues of communication – internal systems, email, text, protected systems – in order to make sure the messaging gets to all levels of employees. Plus, the socio-economic realities for some staff, especially those on furlough, might limit their access to as many tools. Be mindful of this.
Itemise pieces being communicated in order of importance or necessity. If you offer too much at once, it’s likely that some information will be missed. Dispense information thoughtfully and without the deluge. Also, repetition is key. People learn through repetition most often. Use that truth in your communication plan.
What actions can HR take to support the organisation for business operation continuity?
John: Continue to look for the skill sets necessary for the success of continuity. From there, examine your talent to ensure they have what they need to display these skills. If those skills are missing, there are two options – train them and/or recruit talent for these roles. HR has to maintain the level of expertise needed for success in support of the organisation.
Ask managers for their observations (not opinions) regarding how work is getting done. Use that information to established recruitment, learning and performance plans.
With 28 years of human resources experience, John Baldino’s passion of setting contributors and companies up for success is still going strong. John is a keynote for US and international conferences where he shares content and thoughts on leadership, collaboration and innovation, employee success, organisational design and development as well as inclusion and diversity. John is currently the President of Humareso, a global human resources consulting firm, and the proud dad of three amazing young adults. Read the background behind this article series and other featured contributions.