The HR function has been called upon more than ever to support organizations through the health crisis. Overview of a year unlike the others.

In the first weeks of the health crisis, François Legault used to greet a group affected by the pandemic at the beginning of each press conference: our guardian angels, the youth, seniors, truckers, entrepreneurs, etc. One group is missing from this list.

A group that, in its own way, is certainly one of the heroes of this crisis that has upset our lives: HR staff.

From day one, it was the human resources managers who had to, in a disaster,  imagine sanitary measures to put in place in factories, grocery stores, shops, while the public health and the government were still trying to understand the characteristics of this new virus. (“Do we wear a mask, no mask, a visor, no visor …”)

« Rarely has health and safety been higher on the management priority list, agrees Marie-Eve Champagne, CRIA and author of the Nuclei Conseils website. Many organizations realized that to create safe behaviours, it took more than just a simple instruction… And that basing an occupational health and safety strategy simply on safe behaviours was not enough to have results. »

Marie-Eve Champagne, courtesy

2020, year of generalized telework

Organizations have faced a radical transformation in the working world and they have had no choice but to turn to their HR department to find out how to accompany their employees towards new behaviours. Because, after securing factory floors and restaurant kitchens, another major change was needed: telework.

« The fantasy of many people “to finally stay quiet at home to work”… turned into a prison nightmare for some », summarizes Marie-Eve Champagne.

How to reconcile children who are around us and Teams meetings that follow one after the other – sometimes in the absence of sound (« you’re on mute! »)… With difficulty, of course.

Daycares then reopened, then schools. But the challenge remains for businesses and organizations: how to keep a team together when everyone is working from home?

Once again, we turned to human resources professionals to give us advice to be more effective in a meeting at our kitchen table or to finish writing a document… on the living room sofa.

« All flexible measures professionals will tell you, warns Marie-Eve Champagne. In order for telework to work, it must be implemented with managers prepared for remote management and with a particular concern for workers’ ergonomics. »

The impacts of the Black Lives Matter movement, visible in companies

The last front of which employers had to catch up and fill in the gaps is diversity and inclusion.

Forced to position themselves against the scale of the Black Lives Matter movement, organizations expressed a lot of “good intentions”.

Recognizing the goodwill of everyone, Candice Maxis, CRHA, Senior Manager, Talent Advisory at Deloitte, nevertheless invited organizations to “go beyond rhetoric” and “take concrete action”.

« We must take deliberate actions, which enable us to achieve results that are different from those we have always reproduced », she argued on Isarta Infos.

Candice Maxis, courtesy

More than ever this year, HR professionals will once again have been the promoters of diversity and inclusion in companies.

Data culture and HR function, resilience factors

At the end of 2020, we have contacted Andrée Laforges, CRHA, Vice-President Employee Experience and Product Chief at Syntell, to get an update on the adoption of a data culture and HR analytics in companies.

« So far, I see that companies that have advanced processes in HR analytics have been much more resilient. They have a better understanding of what’s going on in their organization. They have a better vision of who does what – who is absent, who is teleworking, etc. »

However, the CRHA finds that a data culture is not the only resilience factor.

« The pandemic highlighted organizations’ weaknesses. And, as a result, it highlighted the role that human resources managers could play as guardians of good HR practices. HR managers had the opportunity to inform leaders and help them make informed decisions throughout the crisis. »

For recognition of HR staff

Prior to the publication of this article, we made a call on LinkedIn to confirm if François Legault greeted HR staff or not during his press briefings.

The answer of Candice Maxis, CRHA, Senior Manager, Talent Advisory at Deloitte, speaks for itself. I will reproduce it here for you, with her permission:

« Never. HR has taken a front line position in this crisis but like often times, this work is done in the shadows. Pay cheques are issued on time, public health standards that change every 2 minutes are respected, managers and employees who have anxiety are supported, jobs are protected when possible. All this is done thanks to the HR teams. There are guardian angels of health, those of education and those in business. Those in business…it’s us. HR. »

Happy New Year to all and thank you to all HR professionals for your important work!

Photo credits : Nelly Antoniadou / Unsplash

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