What the 4 business stages during COVID-19 mean for HR

During these uncertain times, businesses worldwide are trying to adapt to the new reality while keeping everything together as much as possible. Employees working from home need guidance and support now more than ever. The questions is: how can HR facilitate this process to the best of their abilities?

Back in March, when we were first impacted by COVID-19, we were trying to find clarity amidst chaos. Just like our customers, our day-to-day business responsibilites and lives changed instantly — without warning. To guide our customers and the HR community during this period, our Customer Support team has launched a Remote Work & COVID-19 Response Series.

This series will support you in adapting your performance management priorities during times of uncertainty. We will provide you with applicable best practices to help you shape a performance management process to successfully support and grow your people at a time when they need it most.

In this first article, we will focus on the following (jump ahead):

- The role of HR during COVID-19

- The 4 business stages during COVID-19

- Solution: Pulse Surveys support a healthy and engaged workforce

The Role of HR during COVID-19

You as an HR practitioner are now faced with what could be one of the most difficult challenges in your career so far. You may need to wear multiple hats while leading a historic remote-work experiment on one hand and minimizing employee fear on the other.

So what should you do in this situation? First, stop and breathe. Go back to the basics: your people and the values of your organization. Now more than ever, you need to take care of your people as they play a crucial part in whether your organization will successfully come out on the other side of the flattened curve.

So how can you best support employees now? To answer this question fully, we have first identified 4 business stages you will pass during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we’ll focus on solutions for stages 1 and 2.

The 4 Business Stages during COVID-19

Stage 1: Disorder

A sudden change in everyone’s business and personal lives leads to confusion and uncertainty. People are expected to work from home and to adjust to the “new normal”. The right tools, resources, digital access, and communication channels need to be identified and established all while prioritizing the well-being and health among your people.

During this stage, leadership and HR play a crucial role in accommodating and addressing the needs of your people.

Stage 2: Adjusting

Slowly people start to adapt to the new normal. Emotions and productivity still fluctuate. People accept that working from home is part of their job and they know what is expected of them.

They are focused on optimizing working remotely and learning to be more productive. A good thing to be aware of is that depending on people’s job responsibilities and home situation, this stage poses different obstacles for different people. Managers and HR practitioners can adopt practices to monitor the main challenges and general feelings of teams.

Stage 3: Getting ready

It starts to become clear where businesses stand and what the long-term impact of the COVID-19 will be on your business as well as the world around you. Knowing what’s ahead will bring the clarity needed to prepare for what’s to come.

Currently, it’s difficult to predict what this will look like. There are plenty of interesting viewpoints and predictions what the long-term implications will be with respect to the "new normal" for all of us, yet since we're still in the midst of a crisis, it's difficult to really determine when things will change or how.

Stage 4: The New Reality

Whatever the new reality is for businesses and employees around the world, objectives, and strategies will be put in place to give direction in the post-COVID-19 era.

There are very interesting projections in regards to how the conventional workplace and work culture will change. For example, Harvard Business School experts foresee organizations developing trust-based cultures with employees, remote work becoming more strategic, employees taking better stock of their new work priorities, and more.

Managers should think: How do we survive this time and even get something positive out of this?
Raj choudhury
Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury
Lumry Family Associate Professor in the Technology and Operations Management Unit

Solution: Pulse Surveys Support a Healthy and Engaged Workforce

Currently, most companies either find themselves in Stage 1: Disorder or Stage 2: Adjusting. If you want to understand how you can adapt your HR priorities to your current business stage and the needs of your people, you can give them a voice by regularly sending out a Pulse Survey.

We’ve been listening to our customers and their current challenges, and along with our own experience, we have created two COVID-19 Response Pulse Survey templates specifically designed for the business stage you are in. These pulse surveys will provide you with a real-time snapshot of the well-being of your workforce and important themes that need your immediate attention.

If you’re new to Pulse Surveys and are curious about what value they can bring you, please read more here.

Pulse Survey during Stage 1: Disorder

How can you expect people to focus on their job when they are worried about losing it? During the Disorder Stage, your focus should be on providing clarity, building trust and addressing employees’ concerns.

Recognizing signs of distress from a remote situation has proven to be difficult when you are missing out on human interaction and face-to-face conversation.

To measure employee sentiment during Stage 1 or Stage 2, please find two different crisis response pulse survey templates here.

Pulse Survey during Stage 2: Adjusting

The Adjusting Stage is crucial as it brings with it the uncertainty of how long it will last. This not-knowing can impact productivity, engagement, and overall employee experience. Though the panic has resided, working on long-term plans has made way for adjusting to remote life.

This outlook may cause distress and frustration. If left unattended, these feelings will impact employees’ motivation and ultimately lead to a disengaged workforce.

To measure employee sentiment during either of these two stages, please find two different crisis response pulse survey templates here.

How Impraise supports Pulse Surveys

We’ve specifically designed our Pulse Survey feature in Impraise to add instant value to HR, management, and C-suite. Team reports are automatically shared with managers and you are given the flexibility to share the full report with C-suite.

This empowers the team leads to understand their team’s morale and take the appropriate action, while HR and C-suite have actionable insights to make higher strategic decisions. Conducting Pulse Surveys regularly allows you to compare responses over time and identify whether you have made progress after the action you’ve taken.

Learn how you can set up a Pulse Survey in Impraise here.

If you would like to learn more from our experts about best practices, incorporating Pulse Surveys in the workflow of remote teams, and how to seamlessly do that with Impraise, get in touch with us.

Next in the "Remote Work & COVID-19 Response Series"

The next post in our series will focus on how you can support managers to virtually lead and coach their remote team members. Stay tuned!

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