HR Response Strategy towards Coronavirus outbreak
The government of India has recently declared the novel coronavirus outbreak in the country a "notified disaster". The coronavirus pandemic has left everyone feeling like a cat on a hot tin roof.
Workplaces can be the breeding ground for the virus with a room full of people where social distancing is practically impossible. Well-known tech companies are asking their employees to work from home as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. Over 20 lakh professionals in India are anticipated to work from home in the next few days coming days, considering the coronavirus outbreak.
The role of HR here is unavoidable. As the virus continues to grow, your coworkers and even your boss will soon turn to you for support. You need to come up with a response strategy for the company’s health. The key points listed in this blog will help you to fabricate your strategy -
1. Layout list of what to expect
It’s a good idea to lay down what to expect now and in the long term if the situation deteriorates. It could synchronize with the outline laid below concerning how many infected cases you have in your area when you plan to take the suggested measures.
Level 1 - Now
Sanitize hands frequently
Take rest if feeling unwell
No international trips
Level 2 - If the number of infected cases in your area rises to 1000
Compulsory WFH – work from home for all employees
2. WFH policies need to be adapted
If your company doesn’t have a WFH policy yet, it’s the right time to build one. The employees need to know that they don’t have to come to the office to work if they are not feeling well enough. Working from home can give the employees proper time to rest to strengthen their immune system.
3. Travel only when it cannot be avoided
Despite your motive, destination, age or health, if your international or domestic travel is not indispensable, do consider rescheduling it in readjusting your travel plans.
Many roles require the employee to travel, be it for a conference, meeting with a client, or to other offices. Make it easier for your employees by not putting them in a position to decide for them. Make it a policy that there should be no travel for work purposes.
4. Educate your employees
“The unknown is so much more frightening than the known”
Information on how to prevent the spread of coronavirus can give a sense of control to the employees. You need to plan how the employees can be educated about this scary topic. Educating them will help to repress the fear.
For example, you may have hand sanitizer at every desk and ask the employees to use it regularly. You can share videos, WHO guidelines and information on what steps they can take to control the outbreak within the office via email.
5. Tech is your friend
We may contract the virus when in close quarters of a crowd and so social distancing has been advised. But it is impossible to contract sickness via the Internet! We can still have our meetings via video call, online chat channels or email. You don’t have to fall behind in the game when technology can help you do business in a virtual environment.
6. Everyone calm it down
In this level or even in worse, panicking will not help. The employees must remain calm. It is your responsibility to ensure the entire workforce is informed, confident and safe.
Spreading a sense of composure is of utmost importance whenever there is an outbreak. Management should be able to make the employees feel like they’re in good hands and that the company is concerned about their wellbeing. Today, when the world is trying to combat coronavirus fear, the role of HR is critical to make sure that the company does not trivialize employees’ needs. You need to quell the fear and worries with your coronavirus response strategy
- Ishani Singh