HR’s Role in Business Continuity

I don’t think anyone can argue that COVID-19 hasn’t caused business interruption across our globe. The interruption came quickly, was highly impactful, and has lasted longer than we expected. COVID-19 forced businesses to rapidly adjust internal and external operations. Employers Council’s Coronavirus: Employer Strategies and Pulse Survey conducted in April this year shows that only 46 percent of organizations reported having an Emergency Preparedness Plan to respond to COVID-19. Many organizations scrambled to adjust to the pandemic, making decisions on the fly to maintain business operations.

As HR professionals, we can play a proactive role in helping our businesses prepare and respond to a business interruption. HR can continue to support the importance of employee engagement by creating mechanisms to ensure employees are healthy and safe during a business interruption. For example, during a power-outage, employees must have a way to communicate with senior leadership to get information. Having a prepared plan of mass text messages to staff to provide updates is a potential solution. Also, COVID-19 has forced HR to expand its role to ensure employees are healthy and safe. In many cases, taking the time to ask employees what they need to create a sense of caring and value.

Making sure managers have the tools they need during a business interruption plays an essential part in getting operations to a level that supports the business needs. In a situation where employees were moved from an office setting to remote work overnight, managers need training on the technology that will be used to communicate and effectively manage teams and/or customer relationships. Making sure managers have a way to get regular updates is a key part of supporting managers during a disruption.

When a business event occurs that side-tracks operations, HR can jump in to be a central place to help determine what skills are needed to support the business operations. This may mean pulling individuals from different departments to assist in work at hand. This would require pre-work from HR to ensure an understanding and/or a way to capture the skills of employees.

Finally, but potentially most importantly, a quote from Nat Turner captures why communication is critical, “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity.” Even if all the answers are unavailable, providing regular updates, asking for feedback, and course-correcting along the way is important in reinforcing alignment, a clear path forward, and clarity of who’s doing what to move as effectively as possible through the interruption. Contact Employers Council with your questions.