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4 HR Lessons Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic

CoAdvantage- By this point, business leaders and industry publications have probably published millions of words on COVID-19 and its impacts on the business world. We ourselves have written previously about trends and long-term implications resulting from the pandemic. Frankly, though, the seriousness of the pandemic, and the weaknesses it uncovered in workplace crisis readiness, has revealed a need to strategize and strengthen business practices. And, unfortunately, the pandemic isn’t quite over it. So, what lessons can we who work in human resources take away from our experiences over the past year, so we can be better prepared for the future?

1: Get help when you need it.

The COVID-19 pandemic has showcased that’s some Black Swan events – unexpected crises and disasters outside the scope of what you might normally expect – can leave employers in genuinely dicey situations.

Indeed, having professional help available can make the difference between making it through the event and not. The National Association of PEOs conducted a study late last year and found that businesses that partner with PEOs were 60% more likely to survive the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic.

So, perhaps more than anything else, COVID-19 has taught us that HR leaders and teams need to be willing to reach out for help to navigate difficult situations.

2: Continuity and contingency planning are more important than ever.

Once-in-a-century pandemics are not the only Black Swan events that can affect businesses. From natural disasters to corporate scandals to political upheaval to other unpredictable events, many companies end up facing unexpectedly serious – and sometimes existential – challenges. Every company can and should invest in risk analysis and management initiatives. Part of that effort should involve continuity and contingency planning to ensure that the organization is situated in the best possible position to respond to and navigate unexpected disasters and crises.

3: Invest in leadership development, especially in HR itself.

The Economist does not mince words on this point: “In a pandemic, a chief people officer can make or break a company.” They argue that HR functions had an unusually significant impact on business operations during the pandemic. After all, HR is responsible for creating remote working policies, handling layoffs and furloughs, addressing employee morale, taking steps to keep employees healthy, and more. That means HR has played a definitive role in how successfully any given company has navigated the pandemic.

It’s important to remember, however, that HR plays such a foundational role in the operational health of any organization all the time. HR leadership is crucial to success every day, not just during crises.

4: Focus on employee well-being programs.

Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, and if they are suffering, the organization is going to suffer. Whether it’s protecting employees from ailments like COVID-19 with safety protocols that adhere to guidance from public health experts, investing in employee morale to ensure they are still functioning well even in new, remote working situations, and focusing on ensuring that employees have the soft skills needed for flexibility in the workplace, it’s clear that HR needs to focus on employee wellbeing as a metric of success for organizational health.

CoAdvantage, one of the nation’s largest Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs), helps small to mid-sized companies with HR administration, benefits, payroll, and compliance. To learn more about CoAdvantage’s ability to create a strategic HR function in your business that drives business growth potential, contact us today.