CHROs must plan to protect employees and deliver operational excellence during a pandemic

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Even in times of uncertainty or crisis, CHROs must guarantee the talent required for operational excellence and deliver a good employee experience. They need to be prepared for the situation to escalate rapidly and grow in unexpected directions.

However, as this Gartner Report points out, “HR leaders cannot wait for a crisis to develop to start responding”. High absenteeism is the biggest threat to an organization during a pandemic. CHROs and HR leaders must prepare an organization, so it knows how to react and what to do. While it is a great help to have the right kind of Cloud HR solution, thinking strategically about how to manage your talent during a pandemic is unavoidable.

As a CHRO, you must be able to answer:

  • When and how should my organization act in the face of an outbreak, before it becomes a pandemic?
  • Do I know what the maximum level of absenteeism is that the organization can handle? What can I do to avoid reaching that level?
  • How can I keep the company operating with high absenteeism? Are my employees cross-trained in skills to cover other absent employees?
  • What happens when an infected employee comes to work? What health and safety measures do I put into place?
  • …. 

For questions like these that are included in this Gartner Report and many more, CHROs need to define and implement organization preparedness and response plans to mitigate this threat at the outbreak level. These cover a wide scope: critical roles, information and internal communication, employee concerns, manager concerns, operational issues, health and safety, and external communication policies.

When CHROs start thinking through all of this, they should explore the Gartner Report on Pandemic Planning: Responding to Coronavirus and Other Emerging Risks. This offers some tips, activities and checklists of some questions to consider at different stages of outbreak or pandemic, which CHROs will find helpful for planning responses of this kind.

Gartner, Pandemic Planning: Responding to Coronavirus and Other Emerging Risks, Human Resources Research Team, 3 February 2020

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Can the company operate with as much as 25% high absenteeism?



Are the employees cross-trained to cover other absent employees?



What happens when an infected employee comes to work?