From contract reviews, lay-offs and redundancies, to liaising with vulnerable staff or those with dependents, HR skills are in high-demand. Already large household names in Ireland such as Mothercare, Aer Lingus & Charles Hurst have announced major job cuts. With similar trends across the globe, CHROs and HR directors are under the spot light like never before.
In a time of so many unknowns, one thing is certain: Great HR leadership is critical in a time of crisis, both in terms of aiding staff and minimising business disruption. Check out my HR tips for leading in a crisis.
Why Is HR Crucial In A Crisis?
At the end of 2019, the world could not have predicted the impact a virus like Covid-19 could have on the globe’s economic picture; people’s livelihoods, way of life - all changed by this deadly pandemic. But why is HR a crucial cog in your business during such a crisis?
They act as the first port of call for any employee queries and are often the face of your management team. They can help put out your internal crisis communications, ensuring your colleagues hear your voice amongst any chaos that might ensue.
Your HR team help to reassure, advise & guide your workforce during a crisis, keeping them on your side & warding off any issues to the best of their ability. Ultimately, they help keep your workers content to steer the ship through any riptides that might hit your business as a result of a crisis.
Top Tips For HR Leadership
If you work in HR, a crisis within a business can spell a long period of uncertainty for its employees. Often, you will be the first person they contact about any worries they may be experiencing; your management will ask you to help them make tough redundancy & lay-off decisions.
Fear not! With the right planning & leadership, you can perform your maximum capacity during a crisis & help deliver for your team:
1. Clarity With Management
It is crucial that you are provided with clarity from your management during a crisis. Ensure that you know exactly what the situation is for the company & take time to evaluate any consequences that might affect the company’s workforce as a result.
Perhaps you have lost a big client causing a need for a departmental downsize? Maybe your organisation is undergoing a top-down restructuring, leaving you with the challenge of identifying what redundancies will need to be organised quickly? Whatever the crisis situation, ensure your exercise your professional authority & demand clarity from management about this crisis. As an HR professional, it is important to know exactly what is happening at any time, to ensure you can perform to your best capacity & make the right decisions for the good of the company.
2. Plan & Evaluate
Once you are clear on the crisis at hand, take time to plan as much as possible & evaluate the situation. Often in a crisis, time is not something you will have much of - but make it count.
By reviewing what the consequences will be on your remit - your organisation’s workforce - you can effectively identify your priorities. Taking as much time as possible, review any legal or personnel consequences of a crisis. It’s your job to make sure that any decisions made are both legal & for the best interests of the company & its workforce.
Whether this means prioritising contract reviews to ensure the correct colleagues are eligible for redundancy packages or it’s liaising with certain departmental management on the crisis to see what can be done, taking time to evaluate a crisis fully will provide you a clearer picture and an accurate knowledge of how you, as an HR leader, can help your organisation survive a crisis.
3. Consistent Colleague Communication
After decisions are made in response to a crisis, it is important that you maintain consistent colleague communication.
We have seen crisis communications go very bad from some of the world’s largest companies in the past. For example, on the collapse of Thomas Cook in 2019, many staff found out they had lost their jobs from news media, with very little warning or planning.
It is crucial that clear communication is maintained with any staff during a crisis - from job loss & redundancies or a loss in company in reputation - whatever the crisis, ensure staff are aware of any important updates on the status of their jobs or their organisations.
As an HR professional, communication & clarity is key to ensure that you perform your job to the highest standards, and deliver for both your business & its workforce during a crisis.