Article (June-2021)


HR Can do a Lot in Pandemic

Dr. T.V. Rao

Designation : -   Chairman TVRLS & Ex- Professor

Organization : -  IIMA, Ahmedabad


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Is your HR doing this?

By now we have quite some knowledge available on Covid19, how it spreads, prevention and treatments without hospitalization and when to hospitalize and what difficulties. The most important focus for HR professionals should be on prevention, home care and support for immunity development and counselling for right attitudes. HR has a special role. I would suggest the following points of action for all HR departments and HR professionals in all organizations:

1. Make covid 19 education kit to prevent spread and ensure safe living for all employees. Develop simple audio, video, and other media-based education kits and distribute to all. Use all channels of communication like local newsletters, circulars, and other company channels. 

2. Extend this activity to cover families, relatives, local community where employees live to be provided this education and even other forms of support.

3. This is an unusual situation. All needs of every person is now focused on survival and security (food, economic and employment). These can be met through providing infrastructure, emotional and spiritual (meditation, yoga etc.) guidance, coaching and where possible economic support for needy.

4. Develop select groups of supervisory staff, managers, leaders in workmen, contract staff, temporary workers and every single human being who works for your organization- identify and train them as Human Possibility Volunteers (HPV). This can be done in a short time once you develop an education kit. I suggest a-maximum 5 to 10 session online program. Some extra incentive to these volunteer facilitators or HPVs from workmen leaders will be symbolic.

5. Each HPV to take care of at least 10 families by individually being in touch with the employee and their family members (especially senior citizens and vulnerable in their families). @ One hour per family twice a week will need 20 hours of HPV work per week. This could stop after the pandemic comes under control.

6. Most important: Survival and saving lives is the first priority. Suspend all other non-essential activities of HR. Appraisals, promotions etc. can wait. Prioritize HR's work as meeting survival needs of employees, their families, and surroundings.

7. Hire and develop a cadre of Human Possibility Volunteers without losing time if you cannot persuade some of your existing line managers and workmen leaders to do this. This could be a project on mission mode.

Some of the HR Departments are already doing this but many say they do not know what to do. This list is to be used by all organizations including those passing through other forms of difficult times including closure, SMEs, NGOs, Govt. agencies. Schools and colleges and Universities should develop curricula for the future including skills for managing emergencies, lessons from pandemics, understanding people, empowering people, self-regulation skills etc.