The outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease across the world has brought with it a lot of uncertainties resulting in 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 IHRMP has identified the obvious and foreseeable challenges such as how to get a consistent flow of information and updates out to employees; how to maintain high employee engagement levels and trust with the leadership teams; how to act as a trusted advisor to management during the crisis and how to maintain relevant work regulations and practical rules during the pandemic.
Other challenges include: how to predict future workforce needs in response to the evolving economic landscape, how to manage with inadequate resources to aid the control and prevention of the outbreak in workplaces and how to measure and improve the work efficiency of remote workers.
As IHRMP encourages employers to contact the Institute for assistance on staff management in these difficult times through the numbers: 0202012110; 0244204641; 0277596868; 0244328677; 024456936, the Institute also recommends the following measures to HR practitioners and other stakeholders as part of efforts to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on organisations:
Facilitate a review of current working arrangements and HR policies and procedures to accelerate the institution of FlexiWorking, 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 COVID19 preventive measures and protocols being employed.
Establish Counselling Services for Employees.
Consider the need for engaging the services of Occupational Psychologists to provide occupational therapeutic and counseling services to help employees navigate through the phases of fear and panic.
REDUCTION OF EMPLOYEE-CLIENT INTERACTIONS
Evaluate and reduce the 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 the 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.
Upskill staff training in digital technology and where applicable, provide relevant training and retraining of critical employees in the use of Public Health Authorities' recommended Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to ensure correct usage.
Review HR policies and procedures with regard to 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 lockdown 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 a lesser salary for such period, where the lockdown period exceeds employees leave entitlement.
SALARY OR INCENTIVES
Organisations that may experience a period of a 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.
The IHRMP encourages employers across the country to implement the above-stated measures out of good faith and based on facts and figures as well as transparent communication with employees.