Persevering through the pandemic: HR’s critical role

Persevering through the pandemic: HR’s critical role

As the world enters its sixth month of dealing with one of the most challenging periods many of us have ever lived through, we must have HR and business leaders who know how to lead their people and keep spirits up. 

Here are some straightforward things every leader can do to ensure their people are engaged, despite the drawn-out battle, the world is facing against Covid-19: 

Communicate the right way 

Fake news, social media, and slower connectivity rates are just some of the reasons why SARS didn’t incite the same fear as the Covid-19 pandemic has. There is a lot of information available, and not all of it is true, and much of it can be unhelpful and even lead to anxiety.  

One way to alleviate such concerns is by clearly communicating what your company is doing to prioritise staff safety. It is also a good idea to keep your employees posted with official news and updates from reputable websites. This ensures your people are accessing the right information and keeps everyone on track with the same messaging. 

In Singapore, the Ministry of Health offers comprehensive daily updates on the situation via their WhatsApp messaging service, as well as a range of resources and practical tips. Encourage your employees to tune in to the right channels and ensure information for your company communications is sourced from reputable sites.  

Stick to the priorities 

In times of unpredictability, where possible, managers must drop projects that are non-essential and will slow the team down. Encourage leaders to focus on the basics essential to operations. A perfect analogy is using a smartphone that is low on battery. With a flat battery, there’s no capacity for luxuries such as browsing or social media. Instead, it would help if you used the basics of making calls and sending out messages.  

Putting that into a business context, HR and business leaders should encourage managers to see that basic operations run as per usual and shelve any additional projects that are not necessary at the moment so that staff can adapt to these new changes and let them settle in. 

Check-in with your people  

Mental health is equally as important as physical health, and the isolation that occurs with working from home for prolonged periods can be debilitating for some people. Virtual connections like video or audio calls are the primary method of communication during this time. You and your employees can use video chatting as a way to check in with one another.  

As an HR leader, you can encourage your company to open up that conversation throughout teams with weekly check-ins to make sure everyone is doing well and has the support they need. Working from home during the pandemic is isolating, but check-ins will help. 

Health and safety is the number one priority

For employees whose jobs require them to be on the ‘front line’ and can’t work from home, it’s vital they feel their company is doing its utmost to look after their health and safety. Ensure your people have all the necessary amenities, such as hand sanitiser and masks, and that you have mapped out strict social distancing parameters at work premises. And as a leader, see that the company is expressing their gratitude to these employees in a real way. You want to make your employees feel as safe as possible and that the contribution they are making by being in the workplace is valued.  

Encourage genuine breaks 

Research has found that only one in five people take a lunch break and that white-collar workers are the least likely to take a break. A recent study from professional feedback platform Blind has also found that the number of cases of employee burnout has risen significantly over past months. 

In mid-February, 61% of respondents said they were burning out on the job, with their ‘unmanageable workload’ cited as the primary stressor. Fast forward to the weeks leading up to the pandemic, and 73% are feeling the burn and a key reason is because of no separation between work and life. 

As an HR leader, encourage employees to get away from their desks, for at least five minutes every hour. For example, make a cup of tea, get outside for some fresh air, or check-in with loved ones. When people make this a habit, they are happier and in a better position to contribute to the bottom line. 

Increasing Morale Is Free 

In conclusion, these ways to boost employee morale as the Covid-19 situation stretches on are affordable or even free, depending on your available resources. When you support employees, their resolve will improve, and they can then help their co-workers. Covid-19 is an enormous challenge for everyone, no matter how well people appear to be doing on the surface. With these strategies, as an HR or business leader, you can smooth the adjustment. 



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