HR front and center – Business continuity to build confidence

Organizations should assess the following considerations to protect themselves and their employees

Mike DiClaudio

Mike DiClaudio

Principal, Human Capital Advisory , KPMG US

+1 313-230-3120

The rapid growth of COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for HR business leaders, enterprises, and organizations globally. Understanding what is needed and how to prepare organizations to be resilient will prove crucial in protecting employees and maintaining operations. This includes understanding an organization’s position in terms of business continuity and managing distress across the entire human resources value chain - including employees, operations and infrastructure.

As the global challenge of COVID-19 potentially increases, organizations should assess the following considerations to protect themselves and their employees.

Policies and procedures

Clearly defined policies are essential to the overall health of an organization and the employees. If not already in place, HR leaders should develop a work-from-home policy that clearly defines how employees work, and what benefits are available to them. These written policies could include: workplace flexibility, leave of absence flexibility, pay and benefits in case of daycare or school closings, and caring for ill family members. Employees need to understand what’s available to them if they have tested positive for COVID-19 and need to take a leave of absence.

Alternative working arrangements

Informing and clearly communicating the work-from-home policies and procedures is essential to a transition from in-office to virtual. However, it is important to take the following questions into consideration prior to rolling out a policy:

  • Do policies and procedures allow the organization to seamlessly transfer staff to work-from-home?
  • How long can the organization maintain mission-critical processes with staff working from home?
  • If employees cannot work from home will they continue to be paid? 
  • Is staff equipped with laptops or computers and does the organization have the technical capabilities in place to work remotely?
  • Is the organization set up to enable success for the majority of the workforce to work-from-home while maintaining mission-critical outcomes?

Communication through internal and external channels

In collaboration with marketing and communications teams organizations should monitor and maintain regular communication with staff providing up-to-date information on the state of COVID-19 and the processes being implemented to protect staff and maintain critical operations. Updating the company’s intranet site to link to the World Health Organization (WHO), local and public health departments is important to keep the most up-to-date information available to everyone.

Distinctly defined policies regarding travel guidelines and restrictions should be prominently listed on the company intranet, and as well as through email. Organizations should also advise staff to communicate with Human Resources if they have personal international travel plans and to be aware of places that are banned for travel.

Opening for business

COVID-19 will recede, and once the situation stabilizes, businesses will return to some of the more normal and existing operations. It’s possible the business will ask HR leaders to communicate key guidelines provided by public health authorities surrounding:

  • Lifting of travel restrictions
  • Public transportation
  • Daycare and school openings
  • Government openings

Furthermore, HR will be at the front lines of employee communications when it’s time to return to the worksite once they are healthy and/or they are no longer caring for an ill family member, and after any quarantine periods.

Staying vigilant

CHROs have the enormous task of aligning organizational human resource policies with current COVID-19 policies, standards, and procedures from public health recommendations, as well as State and Federal laws. As more energy is spent ensuring employee well-being, HR business leaders must remain vigilant to conform to the policies and procedures put into place so that they won’t break down across the organization.

Key to success is collaboration. Collaboration with internal teams and collaboration through open, honest communication with employees will help human resource leaders maintain vigilant to weather the storm during these unprecedented waves of change.

It’s time to rethink HR policies to be more resilient and to be ready for the future of HR. Read this business continuity planning checklist for HR leaders and those across the enterprise.