5 Questions HR Leaders Have About COVID-19
by the Aragon HR Team
As information about COVID-19 changes, and as recommendations by governments and health organizations evolve, businesses will need to adapt accordingly. The impact of the pandemic on the workplace and on society as a whole cannot be overstated, and employees are looking to HR leaders for guidance. This blog outlines 5 common questions HR leaders are asking in response to the pandemic and what they can do to help guide their organizations forward.
1. How will our workforce adapt to the changes brought on by COVID-19?
With non-essential businesses temporarily shutting down physical locations, organizations are now forced to go virtual and they must do so in a limited timeframe and with limited resources. Some businesses are continuing to pay employees, while others are cutting pay, furloughing, or laying-off part of or all of their workforce if they cannot find (or are unsure of) alternative ways to cut costs. These changes will have an indelible impact on the identity of the workforce both today and moving forward.
HR leaders must be prepared for these changes if they expect their workforce to be prepared. This becomes even more critical as the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic is prolonged. They must especially anticipate:
- Increases in pressing questions and concerns regarding HR policies such as PTO and paid sick leave and how these policies will evolve and,
- Increases in employee distrust of or dissatisfaction with leadership.
HR leaders must be empathetic leaders as they continue to keep employees informed. Aragon recommends having an internal communications plan. Keep lines of communication open and easily accessible to employees as they search and wait for answers. Make sure they are up-to-date with the most current policies. Provide them with actionable guidance, such as encouraging furloughed employees to apply for unemployment straightaway.
At Aragon Research, we are in a position to help guide organizations through these rapid changes. Schedule a free inquiry with us to get the advisory you need.
2. How will our employees adjust to working remotely?
Aragon predicts 25% of businesses will remain completely virtual after the pandemic ends.
Remote work has many benefits. Some employees may be able to get more work done at home. Without a commute, many employees enjoy more flexibility in their schedule. However, remote work can present unique challenges that employees who are used to working in an office may be unfamiliar with.
The change in environment can be a culture shock; an office full of employees is replaced with a house full of children, roommates, or may simply just be the employee themselves. Impromptu interactions, luncheons, and celebrations that team members enjoyed in the office are often missing from remote work. Employees may struggle with morale, have trouble focusing, or feel disconnected from the organization, which can lead to disengagement, employee dissatisfaction, and low productivity.
HR leaders must be proactive in establishing new remote work policies that will answer employees’ FAQs. They should also establish company-wide best practices to help ease employees into this transition and help them cultivate healthy remote work habits.
HR leaders are also key agents in fostering workplace culture and identity. They should work with the appropriate planners to jumpstart team programming. Events like virtual lunch and learns, birthday celebrations, happy hours, and more help to bridge the gap between office culture and remote work culture. This is an easy way to keep morale high and company culture thriving.
3. How will the newly enacted laws affect our business and our bottom line?
As guidelines and recommendations are being updated to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, new laws are being enacted as well. Aragon advises HR leaders to work closely with their corporate counsel and legal teams, who can help guide them through the maze of new requirements. Some of these requirements may even reveal new opportunities for growth.
4. What’s the best way to hire and onboard employees remotely?
Some organizations are freezing any new hiring during the pandemic in an effort to cut costs. But for those who are able to continue, the hiring process can easily be set-up and executed virtually with the right technology. The challenging part is making the new employee feel like a member of the team—and this is key to help them feeling engaged and productive. HR leaders should look to digitize any onboarding materials and update them based on new remote work policies and best practices, and ensure these materials are distributed to new team members. They should also design and launch new associate onboarding protocols, such as hosting a virtual welcome lunch.
Having a company-wide intranet that is updated with resources for new team members to access can also serve to keep the entire remote team engaged.
5. Employees are concerned about their 401k savings. Do they need to change their investments? Do they wait it out?
HR leaders should leverage the assistance of their pension provider to determine best next-steps. The pension provider should be available to guide each employee through the investment process and offer appropriate advice to each team member. Many pension providers are responding to this crisis by putting together informative webinars for HR leaders to leverage when responding to employees’ questions and concerns.
Employees are looking to HR leaders for guidance during this unprecedented time as they adapt to not only a new work environment, but a new way of living. Keeping up-to-date with the latest guidelines and laws and incorporating these into remote work policies and programming will help to mitigate employees’ fears and set them up for success.
Aragon Research will be continuing to update our coronavirus COVID-19 resources page with the latest advisory. HR leaders can use these resources to help them plan for the future.