COVID-19: Role of HR professionals in ensuring workplace safety
Leadership is not just about coordinating a team for a result; it is also about managing them effectively at times of crisis. This is disagreeably true in human resource management as the HR professionals should always look after the employees during a crisis. Employee safety, workplace hygiene, cost-cutting, and several other areas are a matter of concern after the COVID-19 outbreak.
It is when the organization needs the support and cooperation from the employees to move forward and tackle the crisis at the earliest. HR professionals play an integral role in gaining the confidence of the employees and implementing the strategic decisions of the management in response to the emerging challenges.
Guidelines to control COVID-19 at workplace
As an HR professional, it is your responsibility to work for the physical and emotional wellbeing of the employees. The relentless efforts in your career will be in vain if you are not able to manage the crisis well. The skill of an HR professional needs to be used during a crisis as it is the time when employees need strong support. Your meticulous care can help your organization survive the crisis with minimal negative impact.
Every organization and the HR directors are responsible for ensuring the safety of employees at the workplace. Each employee will be having different social backgrounds, qualifications, and knowledge about what is happening around them. During a crisis, the prime duty of HR professionals is to make them aware of its seriousness and how they can safeguard themselves.
Here, the crisis is caused by a pandemic, so all employees should know about how the disease can spread, what are its symptoms and what they can do to prevent it. Provide health and safety training to the employees to give a complete overview of the disease.
In extraordinary situations, the management will have to make some strict decisions in order to stay afloat in the market. This may include salary reductions, unpaid leave or even layoffs. Whatever it may be, you are obliged to inform your employees about the decisions. It is not a professional way to keep them in the dark until the last moment.
Since everyone has several individual responsibilities, informing the decisions in advance will at least give them some time for preparation. The HR professionals should communicate the on-going status of the business to the employees to hint about any consequences that may follow as a result.
Ensure workplace hygiene
Hygiene has become a hot topic of discussion since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak. Even the developed western countries which followed strict hygienic practices are witnessing a widespread of the disease. As employees are spending most of their time at the office, it is necessary to clean and disinfect the place. Studies have shown that coronavirus can spread when people touch contaminated surfaces. Always make sure that the office is clean and disinfected regularly.
Set strict guidelines
Human beings always tend to do what they shouldn't. Despite stringent guidelines from the government regarding quarantine and social distancing, we have seen several people breaking the rules and many are brought to book every day. HR professionals should make strict guidelines for the employees defining the dos and don’ts in the current situation.
No employee should be allowed to enter the office premises if the employee is feeling sick. The guidelines should also involve travel restrictions, visiting crowded places and spreading rumors.
Consider remote working options
Isolation and social distancing have become the new norm in human life. Governments have developed new policies concerning the number of employees in the workplace. Considering the changes, it is advisable to keep the number of employees at the office to the minimum. Remote working options can be given to many of them. The working days and hours should be reduced to ensure the safety of those who are coming to the office.
The COVID outbreak has affected the global economy beyond doubt. As a result, most businesses are compelled to go for rigorous cost-cutting measures. As an HR professional, the first thing you have to do is scenario planning. At this juncture, priority should be given for the important expenses and all the other things can be compromised. While adopting cost-cutting measures, you have to make sure that there is no long-term impact on the business.
In uncertain times, it is always better to take a flexible approach as everyone is stressed. Being humane is the key in managing employees during a crisis. Imposing stricter guidelines and disciplinary measures will only help in intensifying the chaos. Talk to them, give them alternative options and ensure that you are in this together.
Always stay in touch
Employees will have several concerns about the current situation. You should be their first point of contact for any queries and always stay in touch with them. Though the physical distance has become mandatory, you can contact them or send messages to motivate them. The sudden and unexpected changes in life would have made everyone anxious about their personal as well as professional life. So, HR professionals should constantly try to work for the wellbeing of the employees.
The safety of employees has become crucial in the current situation and lack of attention in this aspect will cost you big time. HR professionals play a crucial role in preventing the outbreak of COVID-19 in the workplace. They have to go the extra mile to ensure workplace hygiene and the safety of employees to reduce the negative impact on the organization.