The outbreak of COVID -19 across the world has brought with it a lot of uncertainties that have led to fear, anxiety and insecurity among employers and employees.
In effect the situation is testing stress levels and the ability of the partners to stay stable and resilient in these trying and unusual times. It is against this background that CIHRM has identified the obvious and foreseeable challenges such as how to:
- Get a consistent flow of information and updates out to employees.
- Maintain high employee engagement levels and trust with the leadership teams.
- Act as a trusted advisor to management in the times of the crisis.
- Maintain relevant work regulations and practical rules during the pandemic.
- Predict the future workforce needs in response to the evolving economic landscape.
- Manage with inadequate resources to aid the control and prevention of the outbreak within the workplace.
- Measure and improve the work efficiency of remote workers.
As part of measures to mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the operations of organizations, CIHRM calls on HR Practitioners and other stakeholders to consider the following guidelines:
- Facilitate a review of current working arrangements and HR policies and procedures to accelerate the institution of Flexi–Working, Working from Home, remote working or teleworking arrangements as well as explore to select and invest in fit-for-purpose cost-effective technical support systems including digitization and Information Technology.
- Delay new hires, decrease outsourcing arrangements, and carry out job sharing arrangements.
- Increase regular communication to bring to the awareness of staff and clients safety assurances based on adequate COVID–19 preventive measures and protocols being employed.
Establish Counselling Services for Employees
- Consider the need of engaging the services of Occupational Psychologists to provide occupational therapeutic and counselling services to help employees navigate through the phases of fear and panic.
Reduction of Employee-Client Interactions
- Evaluate and reduce employee–customer ratio to the barest minimum to minimize interactions between employees and clients.
- Identify high traffic areas of the work settings where there’s regular contact of personnel, or personnel with clients contact and increase frequency of disinfection fumigation and cleaning of such areas.
- Where applicable, provide relevant training and retraining of all employees interfacing with clients who provide online services to ensure customer service and efficiency do not decline.
- Where applicable, provide relevant training and retraining of critical employees in the use of Public Health Authorities recommended Personal Protective Equipment to ensure correct usage.
- Upskill staff training in digital technology.
- Review HR policies and procedures regarding leave and sick leave to be in tandem with public health demands and standards.
Furthermore, where applicable, consider:
- Active leave management – voluntary and involuntary leave as well as early retirement options without penalty.
- Self-isolation under the present circumstance as either paid leave, sick leave, or compassionate leave.
- Requesting staff whose services may not be required during the lock down period to take their leave. However, the employer would need to notify the employee(s) in advance that the absence from work will be deemed as leave or that some number of days of absence will be deemed as leave.
- Negotiating with employees on the variation in remuneration under the existing employment contract, such as paying lesser salary for such period, where the lock down period exceeds an employee’s leave entitlement.
- Organisations that may experience a period of drastic reduction in revenue and/or have been operating largely with loans/overdraft may consider, where applicable:
- Deferring or delaying annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and merit salary increment
- Deferring or Reducing Annual bonus.
- Note: These decisions should be done in good faith and based on facts and figures and transparent communication.
CIHRM SUPPORT SERVICE HELP LINE FOR HR PRACTITIONERS:
- Contact us on any of the numbers below if you require further clarification or any other assistance in managing your employees in these difficult times: 0202012110; 0244204641; 0277596868; 0244328677; 0244569363