Dealing With Crisis Situation at Work as A HR Manager
To handle a crisis situation in workplace is every HR’s nightmare. No one wants to get his/her hands dirty getting in middle of an employee squabble or be the person who breaks everyone’s heart by letting them know that the company is going broke and it has to let them go. However, without these challenges an HR wouldn’t learn much, would they? Here is how to handle such a situation if you are the HR leader at your organization.
When the business is blossoming and the money keeps coming in, the management is more than willing to invest in hiring, training and employee welfare schemes. However, when the going gets tough, the HR department is the first one to get the toughest blow. They have their bottoms on fire as managing people become an intimidating task. But when the going gets tough, the tough gets going and this is when the HR has the golden opportunity to prove his mettle and show what good he or she can bring to the company.
Creating a crisis response team
A crisis response team makes policies and develops contingency plans to be followed during an emergency. While the HR person is a key member of the team, other key people from various important functional departments such as Finance, Administration and Management have one of their representatives in the team. The various members of the team other than you, include a finance guy, the manager, a lawyer and a PR person. While you will deal with the human issues created by the crisis, the lawyer is necessary for providing a legal counsel and PR person coordinates between the company and media.
Keeping it fair and transparent
The worst you can do while in a crisis situation is hide it. No organizational disaster gets hidden long enough and therefore the best thing you can do is be upfront t about whatever is going wrong with the company. You would be doing a favor to your employees as that will give the employees the time to prepare for the impending calamity. They will have an idea about what to expect. Taking in confidence the employees before taking any important decision will make your management look authentic in their efforts to develop policies that are in good interest of the employees. The employees should get a regular report of the proceedings that keeps them informed.
Good productivity is always required to maintain a positive cash flow in the company. However, it becomes all the more important during a crisis, when you need more work without having any effect on the resource cost. For the same you need to have a better engaged workforce which will only happen when you conduct regular training programs, and timely appraisals. As a HR you should think of innovative ways to get more done, whether it means arranging for competitive sport or announcing events like hackathon with a cash price associated with it.
Analyzing assessment report and layoffs
An emergency situation such as what we witnessed during the great recession calls for a comprehensive assessment of the workforce. As a HR manager you are responsible for differing between the valuable assets and the non-performing assets of the company. Find the employees who are at least willing to be efficient. Such an assessment helps in categorizing the workforce and chalk out a fair solution. You will have pretty clear idea about the potential liabilities which the company can do without and the important performing assets. This differentiation helps in keeping the layoff process fair and just.
Handing over pink slips to employees should be the last resort, come what may. Firing a person from his job would probably make you feel wretched and it indeed is a heart-breaking decision. It destroys the employee’s self-esteem and can even alter the life of the employee in an irreversible way. Therefore, you have to make sure through all means that the member you fire has adequate chances to prove their worth in the organization. When layoffs become inevitable, take the responsibility to personally inform them through a long, soothing conversation.
Show some empathy and treat the parting employees with the same respect as you would a if they had stayed back. Be attentive to their needs and try being as helpful as you can through the entire handing-over process. A good HR acts as a sponge, absorbing all the pain and providing a soothing touch of condolence.
Planning for recovery phase
Once the crisis ends, you as a Human Resource Manager will have some serious left-over issues to deal with. You have to lift up the mood of the demoralized workforce and get them back on their feet, running as nothing has happened. Conduct activities that assist the employees adapt to changed circumstances. The HR manager has to act larger than life to help the organization lift to even greater heights than before.
Finally, as a person in the center of a crisis situation, you might feel irritated and dejected by the end of it. This can also have a long term psychological effect. Therefore, do not hesitate to take a break and go for a short vacation. Practice alternative health therapy like Yoga or rejuvenate yourself with other recreational activities. Start fresh with new energy and vigor!
Hasib is a knowledge junkie and an avid reader. Professionally he is a writer for the top job site in India – Naukri.com and often gives career advices to corporate professionals. When he is not involved in writing, he is contemplating his next journey to the hills. Follow him @ twitter, Google+, LinkedIn