Times of uncertainty can be overwhelming for organizations. It is at times like these that organizations find it extremely challenging to drive business continuity. HR being the backbone of organizations is responsible for not just keeping their employees safe but also keeping the business going.
The major task of coordinating response plans, implementing safety measures, and ensuring employees feel secure during major business disruptions – be it public health emergencies, natural disasters, or cybersecurity threats – is entrusted on the shoulders of HR personnel.
With the majority of organizations implementing work from home policy, data security, and the other challenges associated with remote working is growing rapidly day by day.
However, while many organizational officials view emergency and disaster planning as purely a function of risk management and safety professionals, HR management plays a key role in planning for any disaster or emergency, whether for staffing and workforce planning, training, reorganization, or revising plans and policies to accommodate changing needs and priorities. In addition, the HR role today is shifting to align with more forward-thinking practices.
HR can be a game-changer when it comes to driving business continuity. What determines the success of it entirely depends on the HR practices they engage in and how it gets implemented.
Here are a few ways in which you can work towards striking a balance between planning for business continuity and enhancing your employee experience.
5 Best HR practices to drive business continuity
Let’s dive into each of these practices.
1. Focus on creating a better employee experience
Firstly, leaders are entrusted with the major task of creating a better employee experience while running the show. The crisis is ultimately the questioning point of the mission-vision statement of an organization because it is at times like this that the true leadership stands out. That is, everything boils down to how leaders treat their employees at times of crisis. This is the true testing point for both leaders and employees.
Crises will come and go and businesses will always face disruption, but the people who make up the organization are the most important factor for long-term success. It is in times of crisis that employers have to support staff, retain top talent, and ensure job security. Because, organizations looking to drive business continuity, identifying new opportunities, and deploying viable business models – will need a solid team in place.
And, this entirely depends on the employee experience you create. To be able to create an experience that is in tune with the employee’s expectations of both the workforce and workplace – leaders need to be empathetic and mindful of their employees’ needs.
Right now, the top priority is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of everyone in the organization, while monitoring anxiety and providing transparent information about compensation, productivity, and job security – which concerns the employees the most! Because happy employees equal to happy organization!
2. Open communication
Secondly, communication continues to be paramount when navigating through this crisis. With the need for support from all the employees in order to navigate through this crisis, it is crucial that management is transparent about what decisions are being taken and the expectations of all employees throughout this trying time.
Now is the time your people need you the most. Your communication and the actions you take must be swift, clear, and supportive. Here are a few things you can do right now to protect your workforce:
- Ensure your company has a bidirectional engagement solution to communicate proactively and to help you react to feedback.
- Administer small surveys every now and then to gauge how your employees are feeling and identify shifts in attitude, so you can adjust accordingly.
- Talk to your employees often. Ensure that they feel heard, supported, and cared for.
- Never forget to communicate the latest updates with your teams along with how you would be addressing the key issues – if any.
- Be flexible and open to change. Hear what your employees have to say. This will give you greater insights to help you make the right decisions.
- Remember that uncertainty and fear are productivity killers. So, make it easy for your employees to ask questions via an open-door policy.
Ambiguity and uncertainty can make employees anxious, negatively affecting their experience. Consistent communication with clear facts is the way to calm those nerves and guide teams through a crisis situation.
At the end of the day, remind the entire organization that you are all in it together. With everything on the table – all employees can synergize and work together to find innovative solutions to drive business continuity.
3. Use Collaboration Platforms
Thirdly, with digitization taking over the business landscape – there are several options that make remote working possible – in fact fruitful!
With many people working from home today, organizations are forced to rely on digital platforms to communicate and collaborate with each other.
Tools are bringing people together in innovative ways and are giving people the chance to reconnect, collaborate and communicate with each other. Organizations today have completely switched to meetings, file sharing, and chatting via Office 365 video conferencing solution – Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and many other applications to get the experience of in-person meetings.
Business communication is critical. And, online communication tools are delivering value in this regard. Today, organizations are offering seamless remote team collaboration.
How, you ask?
Answer: By integrating with the tools you already use. Be it for access and virtual team management (be it Azure AD, G Suite, etc.), remote collaboration tools, and productivity (Office 365, Jira, SurveyMonkey, etc.), or file sharing and virtual office tools (Drive, Dropbox, Box). Thus, Integrating with your current remote working tools is the key to perfect collaboration.
Bottom line: People can’t collaborate if they don’t communicate. Thus, from instant messaging to video conferencing tools – there are many options available today for team collaboration tools. Choose the ones that best suits your organization and business needs, and march ahead!
4. Adopting relevant work models
Moreover, the pandemic has made people realize that many business activities can be easily carried out from home. That meeting can easily happen virtually anywhere. This realization can save a lot of costs in the future.
The global health crisis without a doubt has influenced consumer’s spending habits and preferences. And business leaders today need to closely monitor these changing needs to be able to prepare for them in advance. Although it seems to be unclear when the situation will get better, leaders need to have a plan in place. You need to identify the new business opportunities and ascertain the required skills for materializing them and prepare your workforce for the same.
Thus adapting the relevant business models that suit your organization the best is the key to drive business continuity. Be it charting out a well-defined work-from-home policy, flexible work strategies, or other necessary job rules.
Whatever the case, companies worldwide are doing their best to stay operational, considering the uncertain impact of the outbreak. And most importantly, ensuring that their employees and their families are safe and sound.
5. Setting up a clear business continuity plan
According to a recent survey, the coronavirus outbreak has left a negative impact on businesses across the globe. Fortunately, 80% of them had already prepared or were working on a contingency plan to drive business continuity. Setting a business continuity plan is crucial not just to deal with the crisis situation today but also to gear up for any kind of uncertainties that may crop up in the future. Here are a few ways you can do that:
- Develop corporate policies to proactively address the spread of viruses. Your workforce must know what the company is doing, how you’re doing it, and when. This will spike your employee’s confidence and trust in the company.
- Also, if need be – companies are required to be flexible in their approach to be able to protect revenue by switching to alternative product lines, sourcing alternative suppliers, and focusing on regions exempt from strict quarantine measures.
- Help finance departments to revise budgets for 2020, considering a drop in demand in the first quarter of the year, while still needing to meet operational costs.
- Shift to a flexible working arrangement and focus on creating a better customer experience. This will help improve productivity to a great extent. Because as said earlier, happy employees = happy organization!
- Set up a communication channel with remote employees that have not had experience working in such a manner to ensure that morale is kept up during this trying time.
- Test the implemented policies from time and time. And make revisions accordingly.
Guiding the leadership team
Thus, HR plays a significant role both in risk mitigation and operational control. As the world knows now, the most vulnerable populations are ones that have underlying conditions – conditions that are protected from disclosure due to privacy laws. The only ones with access to that information are HR personnel. Thus, you should use this valuable information to guide leadership teams with resource allocation, location decisions, sick leave policy adjustments, and other major business decisions.
The key to combat this crisis situation is to be able to work together and stay positive while strictly adhering to the company’s business continuity plan. Having said that, it is also important to go beyond policy to support employees.
That is, be flexible, understanding, supportive, and empathetic. Your focus should be on your employees’ physical and mental health being as it is the need of the hour. If you do this, your business will fall into place by itself.
Because healthy employees = healthy organization = Increased productivity!
That is, if your people believe and trust that you’re showing them care and concern – they will support all the initiatives you roll out without any hesitation.