How to Navigate Your Workforce Through A Crisis

July 22, 2020 | 3 minute read
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Throughout March, workers across the United States woke up to a new reality: Their working arrangements would be different in the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 and shelter-in-place orders. 

For companies with a partially remote workforce already, the transition may have been fairly seamless and some may have even seen an increase in productivity. But for many others, where face-to-face interaction was an integral part of their operational duties, challenges around safety, health, and worker morale needed addressing before the business could continue

Today, businesses across the globe are in various stages on the road to recovery, but they’re all having to re-prioritize to maintain leadership and help their organizations define what’s next. For others, the HR function has completely transformed

A Commitment to Help

Feelings of uncertainty reigned supreme in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic. While our customers and many others had weathered economic downturns in the past, nothing had prepared for a pandemic and the economic impact of furloughs and layoffs. We found that many of our customers and partners have found guidance through ongoing discussions on our Customer Connect forum, where topics have ranged from strategic workforce planning to how HR can partner up with facilities and IT as well as wellness and engagement opportunities. 

And since day 1, we wanted to help. First, we responded to the pandemic by providing our Workforce Health and Safety solution to existing customers for free to help manage workplace incidents and challenges. Then, we launched the Employee Care Package, a suite of tools to help support employees in all aspects—from re-boarding to re-skilling.  Our partners also responded with free deployment services to support our offerings.

However, with all the tools out there, we also wanted to address the shifting priorities for the HR function during this crisis, and help them prepare now for if it were to ever happen again. 

Our team went to work (over Zoom). 

Introducing the Hierarchy of Needs for HR During a Crisis

With uncertainty and anxiety heightened due to the societal impacts of COVID-19, we explored the primary resources that workers would need to remain successful while they sheltered-in-place. To do this, we looked to a trusted model—Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory in psychology proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow describing how humans partake in basic motivation, from physiological needs such as food and shelter to self-fulfillment in self-actualization. As we reviewed Maslow’s work, an industry analyst’s question helped us arrive at an a-ha moment: What if we applied these methodologies to the workforce in these times of need?

Say hello to the Hierarchy of Needs for HR During a Crisis. 

Similar to Maslow’s model, our approach looks at the motivation of the business and the employee during times of crisis. To be prepared, organizations must address four key areas. Here’s what it looks like: 

The past few months have been a time of testing for HR teams worldwide. Here's our model for navigating through a crisis.

And here’s what they mean: 

  • Employee Safety – Are employees safe? Do we have the systems and technology available to ensure that safety is maintained?  Physical and mental wellness
  • Workforce Productivity – What do employees and managers need to remain successful and what is the purpose of the business during these times? 
  • Connectivity & Alignment – Are employees connected to the team, culture, and feedback needed to succeed? Are our business priorities clear?  
  • Growth – Are employees motivated to grow and does the business have the right team to facilitate that growth? 

With these needs in mind, we now have a better idea of what organizations need to move ahead during these uncertain times. If you’re interested in learning more, tune in over the next few weeks where we’ll be diving deeper into this model. We hope that with this guidance, we can all continue to drive success and meaning in this time of uncertainty. 

Finally, if you’ve got any questions or want to make a comment about this model, get in touch with us. 

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Nancy Estell Zoder

Nancy Estell Zoder is an experienced HCM professional with over 18 years experience implementing, designing, developing and defining strategy for Human Capital Management software applications. Her experience includes deep process and technology expertise spanning Strategic Workforce Planning, Global Human Resources, Business Intelligence, Security as well as Compliance including broad industry and country knowledge.

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