The role of HR in business continuity

business continuity

The current crisis has placed specific challenges on HR professionals in terms of managing a workforce that may have suddenly become remote. Meeting the workforce where they are and making them feel supported is a great start to delivering on employee expectations, writes Rowan Tonkin, Senior Director HR Transformation at Oracle. 

A challenging business environment can have a strong impact on workers’ wellbeing; weakening performance and negatively impacting the business as a whole. This in turn puts a spotlight on business continuity planning and places pressure on leaders to seek strategies to guide their organisation through uncharted waters.

How well HR leaders respond to the current crisis will come down to two factors – their own capabilities as leaders, and the quality of the digital tools available to them.

This is especially true for HR leaders. In normal times, HR plays a key role in helping an organisation react quickly and make intelligent decisions that help it adapt to change. But during the current situation, they might also now be coordinating communication, facilitating remote working, helping workers stay productive, and assisting with mental wellbeing needs.

So how can technology help? Now more than ever HR leaders are stepping up and helping their people find their way forward. But they must also be thinking actively about strategies and investments that will ensure business continuity.

In these unprecendented times, HR plays a vital role both in supporting business continuity and ensuring the workforce comes along on the journey.

The remote work challenge
The current crisis has placed a specific challenge on HR professionals in terms of managing a workforce that may have suddenly become remote. Meeting the workforce where they are and making them feel supported is a great start to delivering on employee expectations.

HR leaders must also ensure lines of communication remain open. There has rarely been a more critical need to keep staff updated on how their organisation is performing and what is expected of them, and for the sake of all workers, it is vital that HR ensures this takes place.

HR leaders might also consider leveraging HCM technology to adapt and create operational efficiencies through use of tools such as digital assistants. These can enable HR helpdesks to track and manage cases at scale with high consistency, and address the need for services to be easily accessible to a remote workforce.

Electronic communication tools, from updates on the company intranet to group or one-on-one video calls should now be an essential part of a HR leader’s toolset. Having a unified HCM platform that brings together all communication into a single place can be vital both in facilitating clear communication with staff, and giving HR leaders a unified means for engagement.

Technology that lets people be people
How well HR leaders respond to the current crisis will come down to two factors – their own capabilities as business leaders, and the quality of the digital tools available to them. Certainly, their ability to be effective will be greatly enhanced should many of their routine tasks be automated, allowing them to focus on the human aspects of their roles.

Now more than ever HR leaders are stepping up and helping their people find their way forward. But they must also be thinking actively about strategies and investments that will ensure business continuity.

The pressure that all workers face during a crisis is enormous, and as we’ve discussed, HR leaders are often at the focal point of those pressures, so it is vital that they also find avenues to share their experiences with their peers.

At Oracle, we have assembled a community of more than 37,000 HCM professionals who are all keen to share ideas and experiences, and we’ve created dedicated forums featuring webcasts with our HCM transformation experts.

In these unprecendented times, HR plays a vital role both in supporting business continuity and ensuring the workforce comes along on the journey. Having the systems and the processes in one place to manage employee engagement, understand sentiment and find operational efficiencies is a key requirement for supporting change leaders, and for fostering a culture of continuous innovation.

To find out more about how HR must evolve quickly to meet new challenges in uncertain times, download the research report sponsored by Oracle ‘The Future of HR Function in 2020’.