HR Professionals Offer Advice on Managing for COVID-19

Remote Manager

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, HR practitioners have been bombarded with advice from consultants, pundits and experts on everything from remote work to telemedicine. But often they’ve found the most useful recommendations come from their peers.

That’s not surprising. While others talk about “changes to the world of work” and tens of thousands of employees are suddenly working from home, HR people are the ones who make sure any changes are practical, remote workers have the tools and support they need, and essential workers remain safe.

With that in mind, Ultimate Software convened an (online) panel of HR professionals to share their experiences in addressing the pandemic and lessons they’ve learned. The idea, said the panel’s moderator, Ultimate HCM Technology Manager Yutsuka Takagi, was to provide takeaways that could be applied to other organizations, and help practitioners understand that “they’re not alone.”

Joining Takagi in the discussion were:

  • Yessica Cancel, COO, Pace Center for Girls
  • Laura Frederickson, CHRO, Village Health Clubs & Spas
  • Misty Nahoopii, director of telerewards for PSEB
  • Karen Sones, HR strategic project director, First Horizon National Corporation
  • Annmarie Neal, CHRO, Ultimate Software

Communications is Key

The importance of communication quickly emerged as a consistent focus of the panelists. “Keeping people connected and aware is very important,” said Sones. “As the new normal has settled in and people have begun to adjust, communications is the key.”

Clear and consistent communications is key to managing remote workers during #COVID-19, #HR professionals say. #HRTech @UltimateHCM Click To Tweet

The communications efforts described by the panel are wide-reaching. First Horizon created a COVID-19 area on its intranet and encourages employees to check it daily. Pace Center for Girls distributes an email from the CEO each Monday, and complements that with weekly leadership meetings and bi-weekly team meetings

At PSEB, HR organized regular check-ins with teams to keep everyone connected. Managers also work in opportunities for fun, Nahoopii said. Exchanging notes on what movies people have watched while at home helps keep the atmosphere relaxed.

Cancel said her team decided early on to mix formal and informal communications and avoid bombarding employees with messages. Her team chats weekly, and the center hosts a 30-minute Zoom chat each week that enables people to meet others throughout the organization. “People like meeting people they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to,” Cancel said. “It helps exhale.”

Neal observed that HR has to strike the balance between doing the right thing for the business and making sure everyone feels engaged to help customers and stay productive—even while they’re home with their kids and perhaps not feeling well. Most important, she said, employees who must report to work physically have to be kept safe.

It’s a tall order. “None of us are sleeping very much right now,” she said.

Ultimate Software has created a COVID-19 resource center for HR professionals. You can find it here.

Ultimate Software is a sponsor of the HCM Technology Report.

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