How HR Can Strengthen Team Alignments in the Time of COVID-19

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Jul 2, 2020

As an HR manager, you represent the cornerstone of your company’s infrastructure. To effectively support the organization, you promote and track company objectives and stay on top of trends or events that affect company goals and procedures. Most importantly, your dedication and attention to detail help secure the success of every single department.

But what happens when your company faces a completely unexpected challenge like the coronavirus pandemic? Does the part you play become less significant as you shift from proactive planning to reactive action?

Not at all. In fact, you might be more essential than ever.

In a health crisis, humans come first, which means HR must move to the forefront. The metrics by which your HR systems measure success (such as employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention) are now the most critical to ensuring the survival of your business. HR strategies for cultural, departmental, and policy alignment are now even more important because they directly impact lives as well as dollars.

It’s clear that HR is a natural fit to help lead companies through this crisis, but the sheer magnitude of COVID-19 might make it difficult for HR managers to know where to begin when it comes to keeping companies and colleagues afloat.

The following is a step-by-step guide to strengthening internal alignment and advancing both human and organizational objectives in the age of the coronavirus.

Step 1: Make sure isolation is physical, not cultural

Even in the best of times, it’s never a good idea for HR to exist in a vacuum. It’s important for HR managers to meet with leaders from other departments and stay up-to-date on the goals of every sector of the company. This intel allows HR to consider how best to harness company talent and support employees on the road to realizing the company’s collective vision.

As you navigate the uncharted waters of COVID-19, make sure that HR’s voice is heard loud and clear at the executive level. Remind your colleagues that your human resource skill set enables you to bring everyone on board regarding safety measures, PPE, shifts in benefits policies, necessary cutbacks, and so on. You’ll also want to make a point of checking in with other department leaders as often as possible so you won’t be caught off guard if new challenges arise or new goals develop. This way, you’ll be able to advocate for employee safety and security in every sector, at every turn.

Step 2: Practice top-down transparency

Once you’ve made your voice heard and gathered the information you need from your fellow managers and executives, it’s imperative that you be open and honest with your employees and that you strongly recommend other team leaders do the same. As TLNT observed previously: “Open, fluid, and regular communication” is essential during COVID-19.

To help ease anxieties and build company confidence, experts advise that you encourage executives and other leaders to stay visible and communicate with employees in a manner that’s authentic, open, calm, and compassionate. It’s also important to monitor your employees’ feelings about their work and their workplace. You can do this by conducting frequent check-ins or virtual surveys that leave space for employees to identify challenges or simply express frustration about the current climate. By maintaining a constant exchange of information, you’ll be able to help keep everyone on the same page.

Once communication is in full swing, you can then incorporate employee feedback as you consider new company objectives or recalibrate company processes. This will help establish your organization as a supportive community where people can voice concerns without fear and can expect to be heard and respected — ultimately boosting morale and productivity in the long run.

Step 3: Leverage tech tools to stay in sync

Alignment can be tricky to pull off on a good day, so during a pandemic, it makes sense to be extra diligent when it comes to tech solutions that can support global and interdepartmental efficiency. Ways to implement tech tools to encourage alignment include:

  • Urging team leaders to invest in task management software so they can oversee new projects and campaigns and flag any potential roadblocks.
  • Recommending a sales enablement platform to keep revenue teams in sync regarding content availability and engagement. This kind of solution can also support sales training practices as sales reps attempt to navigate this new COVID-19 landscape.
  • Investigating the use of company-wide digital polling to gauge employee temperatures regarding shifts in policy, changes to healthcare plans, PPE distribution measures, etc.

Step 4: Let priority dictate policy

The coronavirus has the power to override pretty much every other business priority.

As such, you should never be afraid to let COVID-19 move the needle on certain basic company objectives. Health and safety should always be higher on your list than ROI.

Remember: Your company’s barometers for success are bound to look different in the wake of the pandemic. That’s okay. When reassessing policy surrounding paid leave, sales quotas, or business continuity measures, let health and wellness be the guiding principle. Ask yourself questions such as, “Which process keeps everyone safe?” and  “What budget plan will enable us to keep everyone on board for as long as possible?”. Your mantra should always be, “People over prosperity.”

Adopting this motto isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also highly strategic. A recent survey suggests that certain industries will see an uptick in demand in the not-too-distant future. If you take steps to safeguard your employees during the crisis, you’re more likely to gain the loyalty and trust of your employees — which will better prepare your company to respond collectively to the market upswing that may be on its way.

HR is perfectly positioned to help companies develop stronger internal relationships in times of upheaval and uncertainty. Your department’s in-built mission of maintaining employee wellbeing and peace of mind has just pushed you to the absolute front of the line when it comes to overall business goals. Answer the call by serving as a mouthpiece for your colleagues at the top of the company pyramid, engaging in empathic and transparent communication practices, and enlisting in the aid of tech solutions where appropriate. When in doubt, let priorities like health, safety, and employee support be your guide. These comprehensive strategies can help reinforce internal alignments and allow your organization to hit the ground running once the dark cloud of COVID-19 has lifted.

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