Human Resources deals with a lot on a normal basis. Staff management, compensation and benefits, training and development, compliance with all federal state and local HR laws and rules, workplace safety…the list goes on and on. But during the Covid-19 pandemic, that list became even longer. To the point that is was like being in a horror movie that never ends.
All horror movies seem to have 4 main features that keep us on our toes and scared and the Covid-19 pandemic has pretty much followed those same steps in HR this past year:
- More action than dialogue: During the Covid-19 pandemic your HR department and staff have been in action every single day. We’ve reviewed the office setup and moved tables and desks and chairs and employees to ensure proper social distancing. We’ve created and placed 6-foot distance markers and directional arrows throughout the office to ensure staff stays 6 feet apart at all times. And throughout it all, like the star of a horror movie, we’ve also managed to stay calm, cool and collected and just continue to do what needs to be done.
- Mounting suspense: Living through a pandemic is definitely suspenseful. Helping others live through it too, well that’s just another function of HR. Not one of the employees that HR assisted this year has ever lived during or through a pandemic. The suspense about the what ifs was overwhelming for most employees. On a daily basis HR heard questions like will Covid-19 get to our town, will it affect our company, are we safe, should we even be working, are we putting our families in danger? HR came to rescue with weekly emails to all staff reminding them of all the Covid-19 safety protocols that were in place and informing them of the latest updates from the CDC, Department of Health, OSHA and other federal, state and local experts. We also informed staff of the many special benefits and discounts that our benefit providers made available to them during the pandemic. This all seemed to help calm the storm of suspense for most of the staff. At least temporarily until the next big thing hit.
- Jumpiness: That could be the name of 2020’s autobiography. This is true story…with slight changes in details to ensure confidentiality. Staff member Agnes got a phone call on her cell at work letting her know that her brother just tested positive for Covid-19. Agnes immediately tells her two teammates and shares that she was just with her brother this past weekend. These two teammates tell three other staff people each and eventually Agnes’ having Covid is the talk of the office. Just like in a horror movie, the star (Agnes) doesn’t even realize that she’s on all the company news channels, staff social media sites and that she has become Partners own Kardashian, i.e. media influencer. This news finally made its way to HR so we immediately jumped into action. Having a phone call with Agnes, getting the true details of what was happening, going through the contact tracing and then sending her home to quarantine. Talking to and sending two other staff members home to quarantine who were around Agnes without the required masks and social distancing. Of course HR then had to field the normal questions from all the other “stars” that always come up in Horror movies….what happened to Agnes, did the monsters get her, is she still alive? But in spite of our best efforts, the jumpiness about Covid lives on.
- Covid-19 is our Monster: Covid-19 has tortured everyone. Over 500,000 people perished, leaving behind families who had to find new ways to grieve due to social distancing and other restrictions. For those that had Covid and survived, the torture started with the fear of “do I have it” and moved on to feeling sick, having to be hospitalized or quarantined for long periods of time even after you started feeling better and sometimes long term unexplainable effects. For those that have been lucky enough not to get it yet, the fear is never-ending because you’re not sure who might be coming for you and when they might just jump out and get you. HR can’t keep that monster from getting to you but we can hopefully slow it down some so that possibly you can get away and get safer (i.e. get vaccinated).
And our Covid-19 HorroR show is not over yet. 2020 came and went and our monster followed us into 2021. HR, the hero that it is, is still fighting back the monsters, calming down our staff and hopefully ensuring that we all live to fight another day. After all, the sequel of a HorroR movie is always more exciting!