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The COVID-19 pandemic has been an incredibly difficult experience for almost everyone. The virus has impacted the entire world, from a health perspective to the economic impact, to even changing social norms. HR teams have been reeling from this rollercoaster since the spring, and the negative impact of the virus on our lives isn’t slowing down anytime soon. What have HR teams learned this far into the pandemic? How can we move forward when we don’t know what the future will hold? While the COVID-19 virus has been outside anything we’ve experienced in the past, HR managers have learned valuable lessons during the shutdown that we can carry forward into the fall and winter of this unprecedented year.

  1. Compassionate leadership matters.
    As organizations moved to remote operations, the best companies featured leaders who frequently communicated with their workforce during a time of great uncertainty. The most compassionate leaders reached out to workers often with a positive message of caring about their team. This compassion carried over into flexibility for their workers who were dealing with everything from possible contagion and quarantine to distant learning for their children.
  2. Communication is the key to maintain employee engagement.
    COVID-19 forced employees to deal with work, family, and school all in one space. The challenges have been myriad, from having secure high-speed Internet to a quiet area within the home to hold a video conference. HR teams have to become more responsible for managing the employee experience at a place outside a controlled environment. It’s gotten harder to separate work and home life. That’s taught HR teams to establish policies such as flextime, which allows workers to engage when it’s convenient while still juggling family responsibilities at home.
  3. Employee financial wellness is an issue.
    The financial hardships of the unemployed are just one issue that many families are dealing with right now. Unpaid and furloughed workers have been a huge issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. HR teams who are recruiting in this environment hear terrible stories from people hungry for a job, and sometimes, literally going hungry, because of the record level of unemployment. This has created more awareness in HR teams of what is going on with their existing workforce. While one adult in the household may be working for your organization, what is happening to the rest of the family in that household? It’s a troubling time that illustrates how so many of our workers are close to financial insolvency; 78% of workersin the U.S. say they live paycheck to paycheck. HR teams must recognize that employee wellness is more than physical, and that worries about finances, and the coronavirus could take a toll on your workforce’s emotional health and productivity.
  4. Employee success equals business success.
    HR plays an important role in the success of their employees, which impacts the success of their business. Today’s HR duties are about more than offering development and educational opportunities to workers. But in today’s at-home work environments, workers’ emotional health and how they manage stress have a strong effect on the success of your workers. Financial pressures, worries about contagion, and family issues all contribute to the ultimate success or failure of your workforce.

HR teams are facing an evolving role in light of the pandemic. IES remains posed to help you reach your hiring goals while supporting you through this difficult time. Contact us. We can help.

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