Seismic Shifts In HR

John Whitaker Change Management, Communication, COVID-19, Good HR

We’ve all probably said some version of “our kids/grandkids will be talking about this in History class one day,” which, in my house is met with a response of “OK Boomer.” Nevertheless…

Consider that statement; First, I don’t care how “Boomer” it sounds (and, for the record, I am NOT), this absolutely will be talked about for generations to come. Unless we count that last time we closed the country…oh wait, that never happened. The Black Swan event that made for a good read but would never happen in our lifetime just landed in HR’s lap. And speaking of “History class” – what in the h*ll will THAT look like in 20 years? After 400 years of following the same blueprint for public schooling, we may finally see significant change.

If you have discovered, as we have, that our youngest (15) has days where he can literally complete his daily high school curriculum in the span of an hour, how ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm? Seriously, with a projected timeframe of 12-18 months for a vaccine, do you see helicopter parents letting their kids back in crowded classrooms this September? Or maybe you think 8-year old kids will maintain social distancing guidelines, wash their hands every 20 minutes, and keep a mask on for…hahahaha, sorry I can’t even finish that one.

As the butterfly effect continues, we know many families cannot provide childcare should the new education model stay in place. Or back it up a step and consider the future of childcare – what does that do to the available candidate population? Back it up even further and define your business as “essential” or “non-essential.” What about those new questions soon to appear on the job application, “Have you ever contracted or been exposed to COVID-19?” “Do you own a personal N-95 mask?”

Flap, flap, flap, the wings are still beating.

I made the comment to a friend recently that “I only thought I was in Human Resources before March 16th. THIS is Human Resources.” If your experience was anything like mine, you began a deep dive into Crisis Management, Change Management, Employment Law, Continuity Planning, Communication Planning and Strategic Planning. In one single month’s time we saw the lowest unemployment and highest unemployment ever recorded in America.

Executive Orders, shelter-in-place, stay at home, house arrest, quarantines, furloughs – absolutely none of this resonated with most of us prior to March, 2020. My guess is you’ve now completed a self-education that would rival any Finals Week all-night session comprised of Jolt Cola and No-Doz (shaddap, I’m old, I get it.) There has never been a bigger need for strong leadership and a steady hand – ever.

Current crutch phrase that is wearing itself thin? “This is surreal.” Yep, that sums it up pal, but this isn’t a movie no matter how cinematic and made-for-cable it may appear.

You wanted to be “at the table,” Human Resources? This is it. You’ve heard “With chaos comes opportunity.” This is the opportunity. This is the big chair, the adult swim, the Star Chamber. Your people need you, and they need you NOW. Be brave, be courageous, be empathetic, be bold and over-communicative.

We’re not only “at” the table, we’re sitting in a chair of influence – do something with it.