COVID-19 – unexpected, rapid and worldwide spread, shattered the world economy. A plague of the XXI century became the ninth economic downturn, lost $23 trillion in market value and took the lives of 13,000 humans. We have passed through five stages of accepting the inevitable – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. And now is the time to act. We in the business community are ramping up our efforts to confront the threats and get away with it: home-office is being encouraged, events are being canceled, upskilling is promoted.
Critical workforce questions
The life in the time of COVID-19 has changed, including the business life. The companies have gone from aggressive hiring and stock repurchase plans to shoring up their balance sheets and resorting to layoffs as they hunker down for a possible recession.
Organizations need now to forecast risk areas and adapt to ensure employee safety and mitigate potential impacts on the business. Below are five important questions that employers must ask:
1. Which roles are business-critical?
Apply strategic workforce planning: examine which business areas, job families or specific persons (groups) are influenced by short-term changes in business conditions (e.g. standstill of a production line). Mirror the headcount data to the requirements, making overcapacities transparent and allowing appropriate measures (e.g. short-time work) to be modeled. Enable situation-based planning of the workforce and create a data-based framework for critical business decisions, especially in the personnel context.
2. How should we handle home office?
Now, when many of us are working from home, targeted and efficient access to knowledge from colleagues around the world has become extremely difficult. It is important to build effective virtual teams. Implement HR collaboration tools that are helpful for your company to enable smooth remote working, enabling contact and access to knowledge, even in spatially separated working environments.
3. How can you specifically up- and reskill the workforce in order to prepare the business for a risk?
Use AI solutions for more effective HR management and skill management by leveraging and connecting knowledge. Identify skill gaps and qualification potentials for individuals and organizations to be prepared for the future. Keep an overview of the available skill landscape in your company, know which person has which skills and who is the best expert on a topic.
4. Which employees to hire and fire in the future?
Conduct workforce risk analysis: translate business developments into workforce requirements and model measures to optimize workforce deployment. Plan your hiring ahead and set strategic competences with future workforce insights. Between now and when we return to normalcy, there will be reductions. It is important to understand the productive capacity of the workforce: is it too high or too low? How is it changing week to week?
5. How to make the economic cycle function when almost nothing is produced, transported, and consumed?
One thing we can answer for sure is to concentrate on the strategic post-crisis ideas and to invest in our own and employees’ skills growth. Only this will prevent the unequal distribution of human labor and productive capacity and will let to employ own staff meaningfully.
“The key to good decisions is a crisis. If your company stands still, put it in crisis conditions.”
– Evgeniy Chernyak, Ukrainian businessman, head of the Global Spirits holding.
Crisis management in the time of Coronavirus
In times of crisis, there is a strong will to react immediately (case in point: recent toilet paper run). Such intention may give a sense of control at the moment, but it doesn’t necessarily help us in the long run. So, what should we do instead? Slow down, take time to think, free ourselves from our jerky decisions and take better steps in the long run. Panic makes people want to act right now to avoid a threat, but most of the actions you are likely to take will not be prudent in the face of a potential consequence. As organizations begin to make critical adjustments and implement response plans, it is inevitable that changes will occur to underlying business models. Some industries will be more exposed than others. In particular, sectors like construction, media and entertainment, energy and utilities may be in for a rough ride. Not all companies will survive, potentially paving the way for mergers, acquisitions and further market concentration in the coming years. So, the entirely new models and practices will begin to form.
“Unemployment can rise above three million in extreme cases and put us face to face with a severe recession.”
– Germany-wide forecast of the Institute for Employment Research (IAB)
In different media there are already an uncountable number of multistep guidelines for crisis management, but to be honest, only a few of them are really working when the time comes. So, after considering real practices of the real business strategies, let’s see what must be implemented as a matter of priority.
Crisis preparedness plan that fully integrates the human capital:
- Emergency response plan: evacuation, sheltering and lockdown.
- Crisis communications plan, describing how to efficiently communicate with employees, customers, the media and stakeholders.
- Business continuity plan, listing strategies to overcome the disruption of business.
- IT Plan, including the recovery of computer hardware, connectivity, and data.
Information, training and talent development An imperative role of HR in crisis management ensures that employees can effectively implement the crisis management plan. Training and talent development provide employees with the knowledge and skills necessary to enhance the recovery process. It is essential to ensure that employees are provided with knowledge and skills on how to deal with crises, know what to do when an emergency hits. Members of the crisis management team should be trained so they are familiar with their responsibilities within the emergency, communications and business continuity plans. Advisable crisis communication channels include:
- Special area on company intranet.
- Special section of HR help center.
- Telephone hotline for employees.
- Daily bulletin board postings, or email updates.
- Password-protected Internet site with a discussion section strictly for managers.
Through training and motivation, an organization can ensure that its crisis management efforts are fruitful by actively engaging employees in the process. In order to proceed in this, every self-respecting company must be aware of modern smart tools, because only by the use of data-driven and AI-supported solutions the best performance will be achieved.
The relevance of HR crisis management
It is notable that most organizations tend to focus on safeguarding their operations, systems, infrastructure and public relations when it comes to crisis management. But, to tell you the truth, a business must focus on developing an HR crisis plan. Remember that after the crisis is over, employees will most probably be demoralized, and will need help getting back on their feet.
As leaders in people analytics we at HRForecast are eager to help, so we are working closely with customers to keep their workforces and communities safe and helping them ask the right questions of their workforce data so that they can develop fact-based emergency response plans. HRForecast is looking forward to facilitating and sharing our knowledge with you! Let’s keep moving the businesses forward.