Now that most businesses are able to reopen, employers across Australia are tentatively planning for their business recovery. Now is a great time to take advantage of the valuable lessons and opportunities presented as we come out of Covid-19 restrictions, especially of course, when it comes to your workforce.

Crisis response to recovery

We all had to rapidly adapt when COVID-19 first hit, but it is unlikely to end as suddenly as it began. With the potential of a ‘second wave’ and the uncertain prospects and timing of a vaccine, we need to be prepared for varying levels of restrictions that may be put in place and remain agile in the face of continuing international impacts of the virus.

Why a HR Strategy is important

Very few businesses will have the same team, workplace environment and dynamics as they did before Covid. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either! Some workplaces have discovered certain roles need not be full time, others do not need to be office-based all the time, and some roles may have significantly been altered as business needs have changed.

Taking into account what has worked and what is no longer relevant to your business in terms of your people and the roles they fulfil in your team will inform your new HR strategy. Having a HR strategy that incorporates these factors and any changes you will implement in your team will support your business planning overall for the months ahead.

Tips for an effective HR strategy

To remain agile, we recommend keeping your HR strategy simple and east to implement as no one can really predict what we may have to deal with over the coming months. Here are some of our key suggestions when developing your HR strategic plan.

1. Consider the global impacts of the pandemic

While we don’t have full visibility, you can make some assumptions around impacts to your supply chain and sales channels. If you’re anticipating a decline in activity over a period, consider how you might manage this with your team.

2. Include consultation in your process

Remember that consultation with employees is critical when making any significant workplace changes, including reducing hours, changing their job description or place of work. Document meetings and discussions so you can demonstrate you have taken appropriate steps to consult with your team.

3. Review your current team and their skills

As your needs change you may need to restructure roles or teams. Revisit resumes, consult with employees and discover what skills and interests they have that may support the direction you’re planning.

4. Don’t underestimate the current employment law landscape

If you need to reduce your team, be sure to follow proper processes. The Fair Work Commission is receiving a higher than usual number of claims already, and there are no signs that they will be lenient on employers dismissing employees as a reaction to the Covid-19 situation.

5. Restructuring and redundancy may be required

If considering making some roles redundant to ensure business continuity, try to do this is one well-considered and tightly managed process. Staggering redundancies creates uncertainty for the remaining people, and can negatively impact culture.

6. Remember the Award variations and pandemic leave provisions

There may be options available or obligations you need to meet as an employer. Take these into account when developing your plan.

7. Create development plans where you have skills gaps in your team

If you had to stand people down or have lost people think about how you will develop your team to bridge gaps. This doesn’t always mean expensive training but providing opportunities to cross skill among individual roles or teams.

8. Be flexible in your approach

Check your award and special provisions introduced to assist employers during the pandemic. There may be options available that will help in your HR planning. Consider requests for flexible working arrangements and remember to be clear on the business requirements and expectations of each role, while understanding the challenges each person has faced recently.

9. Share information about your business future with your team

Even though plans may change, it’s important to communicate your HR strategy with your people. They’re more likely to support the overall business objectives id they know what you’re expecting and how you see them as part of that future for the business.

10. Seek support of professionals

There are many resources available to employers online, however we understand business owners don’t always have the luxury of time to get across the details of employment law and their obligations under the Fair Work Act. Seek out appropriate assistance to ensure you’re not exposing your business to risk when making changes in the workplace.

We have the opportunity now to rebuild our businesses and our teams in ways that will support a healthy, productive and successful future, using the lessons learnt over these past months and the support available. Get in touch if you want to discuss how we can assist in developing your strategic HR plan.

Did you know? We recently hosted a webinar where we shared more strategies and guidance on planning for the coming months as we rebuild after Covid-19. If you’d like a recording, get in touch with us or subscribe to our mailing list to stay informed.