It is established that a significant number of UK businesses and UK workers are expected to be directly or indirectly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic (See details on a previous post - here).
As a result of the significant impact, it is no small wonder that HR directors and HR as a function all together, have been left scrambling to find the multitasking elixir in order to successfully manage a fast-changing environment, juggling multiple fragile balls, none of which must be dropped else, disaster looms for several stakeholders - including human lives.
Covid-19: Bird's eye view of HR Worries:
Amongst the worries HR was and still is concerned about are:
String of new Government policies to manage the pandemic
Continuously changing and updated government policies that impact businesses and workers
Dealing with new social constructs that impact the work and non-work environments e.g. ‘Social Distancing’
Dealing with employee well-being issues and general sense of panic and increasing sickness absence.
Furlough: Identification and the process of furloughing workers
Trying to optimise the use of non-furloughed workers, including HR staff and at the same time, keep them engaged.
Dealing with a new way of working; totally new concept for some organisations while it was perceived as a change for others.
Covid-19: Three survival questions for HR & Business leaders:
Fast-forward three months, it is June 2016, the UK lock down is being eased and businesses are reassessing their options;
Should business product/service, strategic, marketing, operational or other model change to suit the ‘new normal? If so, how does this decision affect the workforce required to deliver this business change? Will new skill sets and a new organisational culture be required? What sort of challenges are envisaged as part of this change?
While it may seem like a bad option, business leaders have to be realistic and truthful to themselves and their workforce. If following a thorough analysis of internal and external factors impacting the business there seem to be no way to forge ahead with the business, a timely exit decision may be the best thing to do. Again, what impact will this decision have on furloughed and non-furloughed workforce
Again, following a detailed analysis, if there are indications that reverting to how things were before the lock-down is feasible and the best route back into going concern, then consideration should be given on how to get the required workforce back to work – will the workforce return adopts a big bang or phased return? Will retraining be required or is there a need to re-brand and hire a fresh team of staff?
While this write-up does not aim to explore or expatiate on the three decision questions or the approach to addressing them, it aims rather, to share with our valuable readers, a birds-eye view of the situation.
Having interviewed HR leaders across various business sectors in the UK, M923 Consulting came to a realisation that HR leaders face the same three decision questions as business leaders – Do they Change, Do they Fold or do they Rebuild capacity and capability to cope with the ‘New normal’ in the ways businesses have to be run, new work environment (WFH) with its new found benefits and emerging challenges, ways of working and social norms which impact employee engagement and organisational culture? Perhaps a fourth option exists - a hybrid of any combination of the above three options.
HR: To Change, To Fold or To Rebuild?
In order for HR to fulfil its strategic function in any organisation in the ‘New’ post Covid-19 ‘normal’, its leadership needs to urgently address the three strategic questions as its business leaders. Reason being, with a clear vision and direction established for the HR function, HR itself becomes 'the' veritable strategic business partner required to execute the wider business answer to the same three questions with regards to its workforce.
The above situation is similar to an emergency situation in a flying commercial aircraft; it behoves on passengers with kids to first of all, fit their oxygen masks so they can be positioned to support and save the life of a dependent or child. Else, they are both likely to be doomed.
Call to Action:
For small and medium scale enterprises looking to explore their post Covid-19 workforce strategic options, do contact us for a free consultation.
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