Viewpoint: Managing HR in a Socially Distant World

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Viewpoint: Managing HR in a Socially Distant World

Leading the human resources team for a large company always presents unique challenges, so it's easy for longtime veterans of the industry like me to feel like we've seen it all. One of the most sobering aspects of the coronavirus pandemic is understanding that while we have experienced some temporary disruptions in the past due to health crises, the current crisis is truly unprecedented and requires a level of care and attention to detail that far surpasses any other obstacle HR professionals have had to face in modern U.S. history.

One of the key takeaways I learned from managing employees during pandemics of the past is that the speed with which information travels is faster than ever, so it's up to HR teams to have plans and responses ready to ease employees' concerns. For example, during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, I was receiving constant questions from employees who were following the news cycle and instantly trying to translate how that news would directly affect them; they had a clear and understandable focus on protecting themselves and their families. While the impact of H1N1 never reached the levels of the current COVID‑19 pandemic on our society, it certainly prepared us for the types of questions employees would ask in the face of the next pandemic.

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