HR best practices: 5 ways to manage the new norms in a crisis

HR leaders are questioning what the future of work will look like. Here are 5 HR best practices to help manage the here and now.

Seemingly overnight, we are living in a “new normal”, with most of us working and managing remotely. Now more than ever, HR and employee relations leaders, find themselves on the frontlines, addressing employee questions and managing employee issues, from accommodations for sick leave to enabling remote reporting and investigation of issues like discrimination and harassment.

Here, Deb Muller, CEO at HR Acuity, shares five emerging HR best practices.

HR Best practices

•            Treat employees fairly, safely and consistently – just as you always would. A crisis puts your regular processes in the spotlight. It’s always essential to treat team members equitably and follow consistent employee processes. For example, if you grant paid sick leave to one person and not another, and the second is older, that could be construed as age discrimination if there is not a clear reason. Follow your documented processes more than ever, and document new situations as they crop up.

•            Document, document, document. A crisis puts many of us into action mode – but don’t forget to accurately and consistently document and track the employee issues that arise during the pandemic, including accommodations, policy violations, allegations of discrimination, etc. The data is necessary to treat employees right – and, also, so that you have a record for later. None of us has been through a situation like this before. By creating an accurate record, we can analyse it for patterns and trends to learn for the future.

•            Communicate! There is no way to overcommunicate in the “new normal.” Especially now that teams are almost all remote; they are looking for clarity and connection. Be as transparent as possible. Create a centralised portal or place or communications where team member can check-in. Ensure your team knows when and how to reach you. Host daily stand-up meetings, 1:1s and virtual teaming get-togethers. We’ve all seen the rise of the “Zoom happy hour” – and it doesn’t have to include alcohol. People want connection.

•            Collaborate. Turn to your peers and experts for HR best practices. None of us has a “pandemic playbook” – and even when this is over, and we’ll have written new crisis management manuals, we could experience something else unprecedented. The best way we’ve found is our peer communities. We’re sharing information several times a week with our Employee Relations Community, through polls, surveys and phone calls. How to conduct virtual investigations? How should we deal with childcare? We deal with these and more and post them weekly on the HR Acuity COVID-19 Resources Center.

•            Keep the compassion. The Internet is full of sayings like “divided we stand.” In many ways, the new norm of social distancing has brought us all closer, through acts of kindness and collective humanity. Once we return to in-office work (assuming we do) and everyday life, let’s keep the spirit of compassion that had us so actively helping each other.

Also see: HR Acuity: capture data to support best practice employee relations

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