Why are human resources key during a crisis?
By Viviane Cury, VP of Human Resources, Kimberly-Clark in Latin America
Due to COVID-19, the world is going through a period of uncertainty that has had an unprecedented effect not only on public health systems but also the economy. In this sense, the pandemic has caused companies to rethink their processes and work on models to protect their employees. The Human Resources area faces several challenges to maintain the health, well-being and professional development of its collaborators in this context.
On the one hand, the implementation of remote work for long periods and a greater number of employees due to social isolation is an effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus. On the other is designing a plan to return to the office as allowed by the current Executive Order. But, how do we maintain productivity in a totally different routine and amid so much uncertainty? How can we use technology to our advantage in personnel management without the most important factor, which is the human side? And how do we keep in touch and take care of others, even when we are away?
Taking this scenario into account, companies must implement several steps to maintain closeness with their employees, even from a distance: video calls to look each other in the eye, meetings to find out how the person is and to be able to share with others their state of mind, and even virtual birthday celebrations and other specific events for your collaborators. Practices like these bring us closer and we can feel how essential the Human Resources area is, not only to provide the technological structure so that people can continue to carry out quality work, but also to give psychological and motivational assistance through empathy and the constant care of our teams and their families.
We all face unprecedented times of uncertainty. We must meet the challenge of keeping employees at plants and distribution centers protected, motivated and safe. Employee health is the No. 1 priority, and HR professionals have a strategic role in supporting leaders with the support of their teams, so that they can guarantee the operation of the business.
It is also important to maintain constant communication with employees to protect their health and help prevent the spread of the virus. Finally, we must offer the support necessary for the collaborator and their family, as well as guidance on how to proceed in adverse cases. They are the heroes and, to thank them, send messages of appreciation for all the effort, dedication and commitment to the challenges they face.
Throughout my career, I was able to see how important and valuable open and transparent communication with employees. This closeness is essential, as we can help them face this challenging time and reduce their concerns. Another important point is to understand that each collaborator is unique and has different needs. In short, the main resource of a company is the people who work in it.
Viviane Cury is vice president of human resources at Kimberly-Clark in Latin America. She has worked in several positions at the personal care company, which makes Kleenex and Scott brand products, since 2004. She has 20 years of experience in HR and has helped to increase the number of women and minority professionals.