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Coronavirus Immune: 4 HR Priorities to Protect Workplace

Coronavirus is halting businesses and scaring people. HR leaders have a big role to play in maintaining business stability amid this din. Here’s what HR leaders can do to protect their workplace.

Shanmon Wilson
Mar 8 · 4 min read

A knee-jerk reaction isn’t enough.

You can either be reactionary or precautionary in your approach.

You can wait until the virus arrives in communities where you operate, or you can say I know better than to wait for the pandemic to reach my doorsteps and put on your HR white coat.

While it would be counterintuitive not to do anything, few know what to do. How are leading human resource professionals and organizations responding to the novel coronavirus? A quick primer.

👉 Challenge before HR leaders

The global Covid-19 contagion has affected lives and disrupted businesses around the globe. And, the worst is yet to come, notes Harvard Business Review.

As the pandemic disrupts global supply chains, human resource professionals need to prepare their workplaces to get through this phase and maintain business continuity.

🔗HR daily updates showcase many companies in China, Europe, and the US have planned their operations to better react to the impact of Coronavirus. What can you learn from them?

👉Coronavirus preparedness: 4 steps to readying your workplace

The 🔗costs of Novel Coronavirus, ever since it spread in January 2020 in Wuhan, China, have been enormous. Prevention is as important as finding a cure (territory of experts). Taking these steps can aid both your employees and organization against the Covid-19 outbreak.

  1. Information to keep misinformation

Misinformation and 🔗 scaremongering are the worst methods to deal with a crisis.

Being the guardians of human resources in your organization, the most important test for HR leaders is to keep hold of the perspective and watch against overreaction.

A San Francisco based cryptocurrency company, Coinbase, has ‘open-sourced’ its 🔗response plan to coronavirus. As a result, employees are more informed, confident and calm, as they undertake the precautions suggested by the company.

World Health Organization (WHO), Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), are some websites human resource managers can source authentic information from.

Experts and 🔗HR news platforms have warned that failure to deal with the fear and misinformation surrounding novel coronavirus could even potentially land companies in legal jeopardy.

In comparison to seasonal flu, WEF says, COVID-19 seems to be less easily transmitted but it can cause serious illness (especially for already vulnerable people). Standard WHO recommendations suggest:

👉 Don’t touch your eyes, nose, and mouth.
👉 Cover mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. (Use a tissue and throw it in a lidded dustbin. In case that’s not an option, cough in the crook of your arm, instead of hands.)
👉 Thoroughly cook meat and eggs.
👉 Wash and sanitize hands regularly.

2. Hands-off Meetings

Explore the power of remote working and hands-off approach. Especially applicable for areas at high-risk.

  • Avoiding community meetings and gatherings can highly-help limit the chances of transmission. You can introduce teleworking. A recent webinar poll shows about 91% of HR leaders in the APAC region have put in motion 🔗 ‘work from home’ policy. To successfully enforce this, companies need to identify their three types of workers:
    👉 It’s not possible for assembly line workers to work remotely. For such cases, 🔗 HR professionals must put in place health safety, divide works in shifts, as well as offering psychological support.
    👉 Those in sales and such functions can work remotely, but it may not be as smooth as working in an office. For these workers, constant guidance, support, and communication from managers can help, as all of them work from a distance.
    👉 The easiest to move to a remote working structure are knowledge workers. So long you have enforced a system in place, with team trust and managers’ vigilance, the business can continue without any compromise.

• If in office, promote elbow bumping instead of a 🔗 hand-shake for greeting. Also, carry out the after-office sanitization process on a regular basis.

3. Cut off Business Travel

Limit travel from absolutely necessary to nil. If undertaking any traveling, employees should be briefed by a qualified health professional. In ideal cases, ensure employees are not traveling to high-risk COVID-19 locations. Consider issuing small alcohol-based bottles to employees to facilitate regular hand washing.

4. Unfailing employee support

Finally, to close the loop, putting in place employee support where employees can call or contact online or personally meet (if possible) in case of doubts or worries, can highly help. This will make it a two-way street where 🔗HR leaders and professionals also stay informed about any unprecedented situation.
Be prepared with an action plan of what to do if someone becomes ill and suspects catching COVID-19. From isolating the person to contacting health authorities, lay it all out for you.

Fears about coronavirus are understandable. Being aware and prepared is the key to mitigate the risks and protect the business from floundering.

Shanmon Wilson

Written by

HR Director | Certified HR Professional | Successful Business Operator | Talent Identification and Development

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