“I suggest that everyone should do absolutely everything they can to maintain their well-being”
Human resources are the most important factor of companies, the energy that sets them in motion and keeps them alive. Now that we have endured the first wave of the Covid 19 pandemic, people, as employees, are becoming even more important. For out magazine, we invited one of the most important HR experts, Professional & Life Coach, Master Trainer in Romania, Loredana Vlădăreanu, to give us a valuable input on this topic. Required reading!
The Covid 19 pandemic has shut down entire industries and many of them are still closed (such as gambling). What do companies need to do to keep the teams they formed before this crisis?
From my point of view, there are two options.
The first is representative for companies that, no matter how long this situation lasts, have relatively sufficient budgets to afford to keep all employees. In this regard, these companies will have to take certain financial and facilitation measures to maintain the activity and productivity of employees, such as:
- providing employees the necessary tools to work from home: providing them one laptop/telephone, good internet connection and flexible schedule – for those employees who have children
- performing employee productivity assessments at certain time intervals
- increasing motivation: creating flexible or customized program for each employee, online professional or personal development courses, realistic objectives, etc.
- redesigning the budget by reducing or even giving up certain fixed assets (such as the number of offices or cars – because the employees who work from home no longer need a permanent office or service car)
- transferring services in the online environment and outsourcing of certain services (HR, payroll, marketing)
- maintaining close, constant communication
- regular organization of brainstorming sessions with employees to develop solutions for challenges related to objectives, strategies, but also people management.
These are just a few solutions, which can be general, but each company can develop solutions specific its activity field.
The second situation is that of companies that will have to give up some of their employees. This is where the role of the human resources department comes in (and, for companies that do not have such department, it is necessary to hire specialists in this field). For such a restructuring to have an optimal impact, the selection of employees to be retained needs to be very objective and professional in order to keep the people with a high degree of productivity.
The paradox is that 3 months ago the Romanian society was in crisis of employees, and now the situation has changed dramatically, many are regularly looking for jobs because the bills are flowing and family expenses are rising and they need money to pay them. Do you think that this state of affairs will be felt in the short term (3-6 months) or is it longer lasting (12-24 months)?
My opinion is that this is just the beginning of this situation. Except for the pharma, retail and delivery, the rest of the industries are already affected by the health crisis we are going through. The dynamics of the current period was as follows: it started with a health crisis, then it continued with a social crisis and followed by an economic and financial crisis. Although there are experts who say that it will be the most acute crisis, I do not share this opinion. Yes, it will be a crisis, but it will have a completely different dynamic, and the factor of the unknown (I have never experienced anything similar before) will make this dynamic uncertain and even surprising.
So my suggestion is to keep a realistic optimism and a high adaptability.
Many employees are going through a real ordeal now because they don’t have a job. The company went bankrupt and they lost their job overnight. What do you have to do? How do we help them?
Even before the beginning of this pandemic, I was working with someone (who was looking for a new job) in a career counseling program. The pandemic began, but I encouraged and supported him not to stop the process. He had several online interviews and is now employed for 3 weeks. And about a month ago, a friend asked me if I knew there was a job for an acquaintance of hers. As I did not know of any job in that field, she continued to ask among other people and only a few days later, she told me that her acquaintance had already found another job.
I have given these examples because I want to emphasize the idea that those who have lost their jobs should understand the following information: if you keep your optimistic attitude, self-confidence and believe in the possibility to find another job and do everything necessary in this regard, you will find what you are looking for.
What do you have to do? To update and optimize your CV, to register on as many job sites or groups as possible, to announce as much acquaintances/friends/former colleagues/former bosses as possible and to prepare very well for interviews. You can do all this alone or with the support of a career counselor. In addition, if the counselor has experience in HR, then he can recommend you to potential employers. You can also send your CV to companies that do not have job ads, if you think you would like to work there (send your CV to the office address or, more preferably, to the HR department).
And on the other hand, employers could come to the aid of laid off employees. For example, in the previous crisis of 2009, I carried out a lot of outplacement projects (the corporation hires HR companies or HR consultants to help employees find other jobs). And if I can’t provide this support (because it obviously involves a cost), then I suggest at least to give them positive recommendations (where applicable).
On the other hand, a lot of companies want to resume business, but the demand for their products or services is not at the same level as before. They could hire all their previous staff gradually, over several months, depending on the evolution of the market in which it operates. What needs to be done so that employers can access the “source” of employees gradually, depending on their needs? Is there a need to prioritize employment? Are some employees more important than others at the moment?
For a company, there have always been more important employees and less important ones. And this importance is the result of the employee productivity, because any company wants to produce, to register a profit (except for NGOs).
As I said above, in such a period you need to know very clearly what are the levels of productivity and performance of each of your employees. In addition, it is essential to know the key aspects that can keep you on the market so as to resume the activity only for those departments and employees that are involved in the key aspects.
So, yes, there is definitely a need to prioritize hiring and accessing or retaining the best performing employees – they are the most important ones.
Do you think that employees will have the patience to be hired one by one, depending on their needs? Or if they find a job, will they be immediately hired by another company or even in another field?
In this case the situation differs from person to person, depending on several aspects: the financial situation of the family, personal needs, motivation and support from the company, etc. The bills are flowing, the children are asking for food, the bank rates are the same … so even if you have a reserve of money, it is limited.
Depending on the measures the company can take to support its employees for this period, they will stay or not. But my opinion is that, taking into account the forecasts and the current state of people, the economy and health, there will be very few who will have the patience to wait.
What would be the best strategy for human resources management in Romania in the next period of time?
The best strategy for human resources management in this period is the integrated-systemic one, which mean a strategy that can optimally combine business objectives with those of people management. In addition, it is essential that the strategy be flexible (able to change) and used in short or medium term, because now everything has a fast and uncertain dynamic.
You run life coaching programs. What is the main thing you would recommend to people interested in such personal development programs during this period?
It is a period that came totally unexpectedly and totally unknown as a potential evolution. From my previous experience, with thousands of people, in training or coaching programs, I found, like many other specialists, that the two most important fears that occur in most individuals are: the fear of the unknown and the fear of change. And the current situation fully encourages them both.
In this context, I suggest that everyone should do absolutely everything they can to maintain their well-being. As demonstrated by Prof. Dr. Constantin Dumitru Dulcan and many brilliant people, everything depends on ourselves and our thoughts. As long as our thoughts are positive, the emotions will also be positive and will bring us the feeling of well-being through which will help us to face the challenges of health and those of social, professional or personal life.
Prof. Dulcan says that “5 minutes of negative emotion stops our immune system for at least 5 hours”. That’s why some of us get sick and some of us don’t. Physiology is always influenced by psychology, and we have known this for many centuries: “Cogito, ergo sum,” as Descartes said.
So, the best thing you can do for yourself, no matter who, where or how you are, is this: keep your positive attitude! Be optimistic, surround yourself with positive people, do as many things as you can, feel good, play, laugh, exercise, read, dance, be grateful, enjoy the little things, but most of all, discover yourself and grow continuously.