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Practical HR Resources for COVID-19 Pandemic Planning

Connie Costigan

Vice President, Customer Experience at Cornerstone OnDemand

To say HR leaders are taxed right now is an understatement. Organizations are depending on their HR teams to help plan for business continuity, communicate policy and calm anxiety for their people during a very stressful time without a clear end in sight.

While continuity planning is not new, this particular environment and the considerations needed for this specific pandemic are fluid. With COVID-19, even the most seasoned of HR leaders find themselves in uncharted territory.

As our own company has been working through ongoing changes to mitigate risk and ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, their families, the communities in which we work, and the customers that we serve, we've been sharing a lot of resources with each other.

We thought it would be helpful for our readers to compile some of the best resources we've found.

1. Coronavirus Checklist for Employers

Heather Bussing, an employment lawyer and contributor at HR Examiner created a practical checklist for HR and employersthat will help in planning for employee exposure and illness from the COVID-19 virus

2. Employee Communications Plans

Our friend Laurie Ruettimann shares four pieces of advice for HR to remember when communicating about the Coronavirus.Check it out to learn why: transparency matters, you should let the experts step in when you need to, humanity trumps policy, and you should go slow in order to go fast.

Here are a few extra tips from our communications team:

If you don't have an internal communications team, partner with your marketing communications team. They'll help you be clear about the objective for each update, policy and guideline that you're communicating. They'll help you answer the right questions: are you trying to inform, reassure, and what action do you want your people to take, if any?

Communicate with clarity and transparency (as much as possible) and give your people a destination to have their questions answered.

Consider all of the appropriate channels you want to use to communicate with your stakeholders. Beyond company-wide emails, what other tools are your people expecting to get news from: your intranet, your Slack channel, your employee community hubs, text alert systems, employee social channels?

Arm your frontline leaders with communications tools (and in advance if possible) to ensure they're well understood by the people your employees often go to first for information – their managers.

Provide ongoing updates about what your organization is doing to address the situation, even if the update is to say there is no change. Your people expect and need current information.

You're responsible for communicating with your internal stakeholders, but don't forget it's critical that there's consistency with what you communicate externally too – to candidates, the community and your customers. Work with your external communications team to ensure that alignment.

3. Continuity Planning Resources

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK posted some great (free!) downloads and templates for you to customize, including:

An emergency protocol/business continuity plan

A pandemic contingency continuity plan

A policy on controlling the risk of infectious diseases in the workplace

Other checklists and resources you'll find useful

All of these downloads and more are available on the Coronavirus Support Materials page.

SHRM has also shared some helpful FAQsand other resourcesfrom their online news site that you can access whether or not you're a member.

4. Remote Work During a Pandemic

These are not normal times. Yes, you likely have a remote work or work from home policy, but there are many additional things to consider when the requirement becomes mandatory, or when you have an entire company doing it concurrently for the first time.

From Constellation Research, here's a great on-demand webinar recordingand slidesthat are a guide to remote work during COVID-19.

5. Helping Employees Manage Their Fears and Anxiety

I can't think of a more widespread stressful time for employees worried about their families, their travel plans, the economy, or how they're going to afford to miss time off work if they aren't covered. They're inundated with news, mixed messages, and a social stream that won't stop. Managing this type of stress on top of their day-to-day responsibilities can be overwhelming.

And while there's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to fear and anxiety, this is an excellent webinar recording from our partner and friends at Whil: How Mindfulness Helps Employees Build Stress Resilience and another from the Australia Human Resource Institute's website: How to Help an Employee or Colleague Panicked by Coronavirus .

6. A Candid Conversation: Coronavirus, Face-Touching and HR

The HR Famous Podcast hosts – Kris Dunn, Tim Sackett, and Jessica Lee – have a frank conversationabout the realities of being in HR and calmly managing and responding to an increasingly complex and changing dynamic at work when the answers aren't easy.

7. More Tips, Resources and Guides for Employers and Employees

Last week, trusted HR advisor Sharlyn Lauby ran a post on the topic . In it are some of her personal reflections, articles and resources to help employers and their people navigate the workplace challenges we're all facing as a result of COVID-19.

Time to Pay it Forward

Lars Schmidt has started an important thread on this topic to bring the HR community together to share new and current resources like those above. Follow Lars' post for more of these and take a minute to give back to your peers by sharing your ideas, resources and tools there as well.

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