Covid-19 has affected our industry and workforce in unprecedented ways.
Seemingly overnight, trucking and logistics firms transitioned from busy offices and terminals to remote work and virtual meetings. We shifted from acute labour shortages and packed trailers to layoffs and uncertain times for businesses and workers, all the while, this industry has kept essential goods moving.
Canada’s truck drivers have become national heroes. Warehouse workers, dispatchers, safety personnel, accountants, IT staff, and business leaders have also been catapulted to levels of public appreciation that none of us has ever experienced.
HR steps up to the plate
And another group has had to adapt suddenly and significantly too – our HR colleagues.
HR professionals have had to manage staffing changes, develop new working arrangements, ensure physical-distancing measures, check-in on the physical and mental well-being of employees, and navigate massive business relief programs sometimes all in the same day.
Their role has been and will continue to be essential to staff morale and business continuity.
As May flowers begin to open, it looks like our economy will, too (albeit slowly). Here are some ways that HR managers and their organizations can be prepared.
Remote working is a new and perhaps enduring reality for many of us. For businesses, the current situation has shown that it’s possible for employees to be productive without coming into an office. HR folks are busy figuring out how and when to bring people back safely—if at all.
Now is the time to review your HR practices and policies and be ready for requests from employees who want to continue to have a flexible work arrangement.
This includes identifying which jobs and roles are best suited to remote working, and how to manage scheduling, reporting, technology, and issues like the security and confidentiality of information given the blurry lines between work and private life.
New workplace policies
There are legal ramifications to consider when it comes to overtime, leave, workplace safety, and financial arrangements between employers and employees who work remotely.
Self-isolation and quarantines will require new policies for reporting illnesses and returning to work. What are your protocols if an employee tests positive for Covid-19? What are the next steps to ensure the health of the individual and others that he or she may have come into contact with?
And procedures regarding layoffs, furloughs, and pay adjustments should be immediately reviewed in light of the circumstances.
Focus on technology
While employees will demand safe work environments that minimize human contact, so will health authorities. From health-assessment apps to digital documents and no-touch business processes, technology can help businesses be prepared for the predicted second wave and changes to the way we work in the future.
Having technology in place is just one piece of the puzzle.
HR people will need to ensure that the company has skilled staff to assess, manage, and analyze IT systems and processes. All kinds of businesses are scrambling now to hire IT people to support this shift, so be ready to commit the time and resources necessary for your HR team to compete and tackle the problem sooner rather than later.
It’s hard to know when the economy will rebound and more freight start to flow through supply chains again. But trucking and logistics companies that have their HR teams preparing for those days now will be best positioned to respond and profit when it does.
Until then, stay healthy and stay (virtually) in touch.