COVID-19: Managing People – Quick Reference Guides (UK)
Back to home / Guide 1 – Managing People During the COVID-19 Crisis Fundamentals
Managing People During the COVID-19 Crisis Fundamentals
Updated 20 April 2020
During this unprecedented and extremely turbulent time, your focus, understandably, will be on ensuring that your business can weather the economic and financial storm and emerge in a healthy position.
Your employees will be critical in helping achieve this. However, you may not have sufficient time or resource to effectively focus on people issues as the situation remains dynamic, particularly taking into account the additional measures and advice being regularly released from central Government
To support you through the maze of managing the people aspects of your business during this crisis, peoproHR have created a set of simple guides. Whilst they are not specific to the unique circumstances of every business, they do provide straightforward advice and pointers.
Clearly, it is not feasible for the peoproHR guides to incorporate all of the latest developments – so instead we have issued a separate guide which provides links to some useful sources of additional information.
Employers have certain legal and moral responsibilities towards the people working for them, ranging from Health and Safety compliance to pay arrangements.
This guide summarises some of the key areas to consider during the COVID-19 outbreak. Subsequent guides provide more detailed information in other areas.
Workplace Cleanliness and Hygiene
Many businesses have been required to close by the government in order to help reduce the spread of the virus. If your workplace is permitted to remain open, you should ensure that hygiene measures are put in place to protect employees and reduce the likelihood of infection:
Ensure the workplace is clean and hygienic at all times – pay particular attention to work surfaces and other areas that people physically touch
Encourage regular hand washing by everyone
Provide alcohol based anti-bacterial hand sanitiser widely across the workplace
Encourage people to sneeze or cough into tissues and dispose of them safely
Ensure people who are displaying symptoms of COVID-19 do not attend work.
Know your Staff
Making sure your basic employee records are accurate and up to date will save time and effort down the line – for example when claiming for Statutory Sick Pay or Job Retention Scheme payments.
As a minimum, ensure you have up to date contact details for all of your employees and their next of kin.
And ideally, but without being intrusive or insistent, it would be beneficial to sensitively establish which employees are in vulnerable groups.
Communicate and Inform
These are uncertain times for everyone and the golden rule during a crisis is to communicate to employees often and openly.
Listed below are some high level pointers – these are expanded on in the separate Communication Guide:
Coordination and Channels – to ensure consistency and clarity in communication, nominate a single communication coordinator, and establish and stick to a limited number of communication channels
Guidance – Encourage employees to regularly review and follow government guidance
Company Policies – communicate your Company’s approach to dealing with issues related to the crisis – for example absence from work
Keeping in Touch – ensure regular communication with employees who are working at home using technology such as voice and video
Be Flexible and Understanding
In a crisis, many people’s response is to seek structure and order – but dealing with people during this current situation calls for flexibility and empathy:
Be prepared to be flexible with staff in the way they work – many will be working from home, potentially for the first time, and may have family responsibilities as well. People are likely to be far more productive in the long run if they are allowed to vary their working patterns and methods to fit around their own circumstances
Understand that during a crisis that has such a significant impact, people’s reactions will differ and that levels of anxiety, worry and concern may impact the way they perform their roles. It is important in these circumstances, to show empathy, allow people to talk about their worries (with their manager or other suitable person) and where possible make changes or take action that will help to allay their
Have a Clear and Consistent Approach
As a result of the impact of COVID-19 there are inevitably going to be essential people related activities and processes that need to be actioned. By taking a clear and consistent approach to these you will ensure fair treatment for everyone involved and minimise the workload and disruption to the business – examples include:
Employee absence – reporting, payment, compliance with government advice
Home working – suitability, equipment, health and safety, good practice, keeping in touch (see separate quick reference guide)
Parents who have caring responsibility for children who cannot attend
Understand and Utilise the Available Support
The government has announced an unprecedented package of support to help businesses through the crisis – ranging from covering a proportion of salary costs for a temporary period to enhanced sick pay provisions. This is an ever evolving situation and it is anticipated that additional measures will be introduced as time goes by. To protect your employees and your business, make sure you understand what support is available to you and how to utilise it. The best source of up to date information is from the gov.uk website.
Organise your People and Organisation to Protect your Business
A combination of people being unable to work, the need to limit the amount of personal contact and potentially reduced demand for your product or service may mean you will need to change the way your organisation and people work. For example, increasing the amount of home working, creating A and B teams (who don’t come into contact with each other) for critical tasks, re-allocation of work and potentially taking advantage of the government-backed Job Retention Scheme. A separate quick reference guide is available with more information in this area.