How HR Can Support Employees Through the Coronavirus Epidemic

How HR Can Support Employees Through the Coronavirus Epidemic

March 10, 2020 0 By Hoofer

With the spread of the coronavirus increasing every week, it’s critical that companies understand how to react to the virus and take the appropriate precautions to protect their employees. Misinformation can cause even more problems, so it’s vital that HR leaders maintain perspective and prevent overreactions in the workplace. By providing employees with the right information about coronavirus with the help of technology like this human resource software, HR professionals can keep order in the company and protect the organisation from potential liability. While the fears of coronavirus are understandable, there are ways to support employees throughout this epidemic and dispel myths so that the threat of illness doesn’t impact morale. Here are some tips that HR teams can use to support staff during this time.

Stay Up to Date with Public Health Advice

The best way to stay informed with the correct information is to stay up to date with the public health advice that the government puts out. This will ensure that you’re not relying on information from the media that can quickly become exaggerated or skewed. By keeping up to date with the public health advice, you can ensure that you’re informing your staff appropriately and that you can continue to align your business plans accordingly when new changes arise.

Review Policies and Procedures

From health reporting to amending employee working hours or social distancing, there are many policies that HR teams can review in light of the coronavirus epidemic. The media coverage of coronavirus is a good reminder to HR departments to emphasise the preventative steps employees can take to safeguard themselves, but it’s also a great time to review the company’s illness and absence policies and remind staff about them so they can stay informed. You don’t want people coming into the office if they’re sick, particularly with such an infectious disease that can impact other people so quickly. In addition to keeping illness and absence policies up to date and well-documented, it’s also a good idea to let people work from home where possible.

Help Employees to Help Themselves

There should be clear guidelines for workplace behavior where respiratory illnesses are concerned, such as limiting in-person meetings where possible, as well as having hand santiser available throughout the building so that people can stay sanitary. HR professionals should remind staff to consider bumping elbows in lieu of shaking hands, as well as reminding them to cough into their elbow rather than their hands. More than ever, it’s also critical that bathrooms and surfaces are kept clean and sanitary, including door knobs, lift buttons and toilet door handles.

Ensure Changes are Effectively Communicated

Communication will help to keep everyone in the company informed and will ensure that no-one is alienated as a result of the outbreak. HR teams should have documents available that readily respond to any FAQs that they’ve been receiving, as well as having a plan in place to deploy should there be an outbreak within the company. This plan should be created with other departments so that everyone is on board with the processes. For companies who are concerned that an employee may be infected with the coronavirus, it should be clearly communicated that the individual stays at home for up to 14 days to ensure they don’t show signs of the virus and that they should not return to work until they’ve been approved by their GP that they are safe to do so. It should also be communicated to other members of the company that someone has been suspected of having the virus, so that they can check with their own GPs for tests to check they are clear of the disease.

Conclusion

The coronavirus is understandably a terrible illness that is worrying many people, but this is precisely why HR teams need to take care when assessing and amending their policies for dealing with it. It’s vital that these policies don’t unwittingly discriminate and that everyone in the company is kept informed of changes and the ways they can protect themselves. Where HR teams can support staff who are concerned, whether it’s through allowing them to work from home or taking time off work for GP appointments, they should adapt their processes.