Coronavirus has been dominating the news-cycle for over a month at this point, and for good reason. It is one of the more contagious and deadly viruses the world has seen since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918. As of the time of this writing, there have been over 157,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
We’ll take a look at some of the best policies that companies can enact to ensure business functions as usual – as far as possible – in these challenging times.
Maintaining A Happy And Productive Workplace During Coronavirus
As coronavirus continues to ravage the world and its economies, it increases the challenge for businesses to maintain productivity and employee well-being. Many governments are imposing restrictions on public gatherings as well as encouraging people to maintain social distance. These restrictions include recommending that businesses allow employees to work from home wherever possible. Google and Microsoft have already enacted such measures.
Even though many modern workplaces are able to accommodate remote workers, there are still serious challenges to maintaining a workforce that is overwhelmingly remote. Just as a few examples: How can you know that your employees are actually working productively? How do you make sure that they still feel supported by their team and are working collaboratively? How can you help them cope with the anxiety associated with coronavirus? How do you support employees who may be sick, isolated or quarantined – or that may be assisting a family member that is similarly affected?
These are just a few of the challenges that face a company with a remote workforce but it gets even tougher in terms of the responsibilities of HR. For instance, companies across the US have announced massive layoffs due to the outbreak and that trend is likely to continue.
Conversely, recruitment and hiring won’t necessarily be put on hold. So, how can HR manage onboarding and offboarding when everything needs to be done remotely? How do you keep on top of which people are in which positions when the tough decisions need to be made?
Other considerations include ensuring teams still manage to collaborate efficiently given the trying conditions, leading and communicating effectively, imbuing a sense of belonging, and ensuring employees rally around the long-term vision of the organization.
Coronavirus doesn’t seem to be going anywhere soon, so these challenges need to be tackled head on.
Best Practice For Maintaining A Positive Environment
Keeping employees engaged, motivated and with a sense of belonging is no easy task. We’ve put together a list of best practices that have been used to keep your team together:
Be open and transparent about procedures, and update them regularly. See for example how Harvard HR does this.
Provide resources and assistance. For example, familiarizing yourself and sharing the CDC guidelines regarding Coronavirus anxiety is a great way to assist employees to cope mentally during this time – the fact that it comes from a legitimate, authoritative source is critical.
Communicate regularly. The Harvard Business Review has an excellent piece on this, particularly emphasizing the importance of communication. The Next Web also has great actionable tips on communicating during this time, including from an HR perspective.
Be flexible and aware of employees in need. Create an environment of trust so employees feel they have the company backing them up if they need to be more attentive to kids, elders and others that may be vulnerable. Apple, for example, is said to be supporting workers in China through its Employee Assistance Program, including counseling and consultation services.
Update clients and partners: WeWork, for example, published a document (with frequent updates) letting clients and partners know the status of business operations, and what measures have been taken by the company to address the ongoing challenge. This is super helpful for employees in terms of a consistent, authoritative message regarding where the company stands and takes a load off of HR in terms of answering questions regarding the organization’s future.
Keep your team together. An inspiring example of this is English soccer team Liverpool FC’s manager Jürgen Klopp. He transcended the sporting aspect of the effects of the virus to talk about the human, global effect, and has inspired his team as well as a much wider circle. See his comments here.
Another example is Chinese company Cosmo Lady, the largest underwear and lingerie company in China. They initiated a program aimed at increasing its sales through WeChat, enlisting employees to promote to their social circles, including the chairman and CEO. This not only created a distraction while fulfilling company goals, but led to increased motivation and communication within the company.
Provide moments of delight. Employees could feel depressed, disengaged, and disconnected. This is an opportunity for HR to provide moments of delight and inspiration for the team as a whole. This can range from a positive thought of the day from a leadership figure within the organization, to home deliveries of “care packages”, to subsidized online courses for employees to upskill in their free time.
How Mensch Can Help
Dealing with this new reality – where some or all of your team are working remotely – is challenging to say the least. Technology literally saves the day: platforms like Slack or Zoom have become indispensable.
Armed with the right tools and the necessary procedures in place, this storm can be weathered. And that’s where Mensch comes in.
Mensch’s HR platform comes packed with features that uniquely address many of the challenges outlined above. Here are just a few examples:
Tracking Performance: Mensch’s performance evaluation module lets you control and track various processes throughout the entire evaluation, helping maintain complete visibility on the status of each and every situation. You can also connect individuals and teams to your company’s goals and measurable results by using your own OKR’s and values throughout the performance process.
Employee Records: Mensch gives your HR team the capacity to improve employees’ sense of belonging using notifications and alerts for important milestones within the employee lifecycle. This feature is indispensable for a company operating with a remote workforce needing to maintain that crucial sense of togetherness.
Doc management & E-signature: Mensch’s e-signature tool enables you to create signing orders used throughout each step of the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to salary changes with no requirement for physical presence. Employees can simply sign any document directly within the workflow, creating an efficient and organized remote workplace.
On/Off Boarding: Mensch guides you in creating the right employee experience for your onboarding (and, where necessary, offboarding) process. These processes are fully customizable and can be executed remotely, if needed – making it a crucial tool for a workplace under threat of coronavirus.
During this uncertain time, it’s important to be agile and have an HR platform that empowers you to be so. For example with Mensch, you can easily create a special PTO policy to track employees working from home, or quickly announce company policy changes in terms of travel and working hours.
HR Driving “Business As Usual”
The rise of the coronavirus presents a unique set of challenges to companies everywhere. The challenges range from the level of the individual all the way up to the big – and sometimes painful – decisions that need to be made by executives and the board.
Most of these challenges directly involve HR. By empowering HR with the right tools, your organization can face the threat of coronavirus head-on and ensure business continuity and success.
The fight against corona is happening everywhere. When it comes to your business, Mensch is here to help.
Want to see more? Reach out and schedule a demo.