The Importance of HR Digital Technology in Managing Natural Disasters – i.e. Coronavirus

Published by Mr. Steve Bradley, Former Vice President & Global HCM Solution Director, Birlasoft

Thinking digitally is the pivotal step in leveraging technology and foremost approach in addressing HR issues. The reason for this is that, over the long run, it is far less expensive and more reliable than non-technology approaches. It is also necessary in many cases and the only effective option.

Enter the Coronavirus Pandemic

Addressing the HR impacts of Coronavirus with technology is one issue which most of us would not have anticipated. But now that it is here, and we should learn lessons from this tragedy.

Here are a few examples of how Technology could help to mitigate the impacts of the virus.

Communication – Current HR technology can certainly be used to communicate with all or some employees:

  • Send alerts to all the employees about how to help prevent the spread by practicing good hygiene
  • Send messages to remind employees of existing or new company policies (i.e., stay home if you are sick and avoid contact with others that may have symptoms or instructions for where to get company-provided treatment or assistance).
  • Through employee profiles, identify those high-risk employees and focus on higher protections for them, including notifications about how to participate in testing for the virus.
  • Update your employees periodically on the Coronavirus situation of the geographies where organization's offices are located
  • Communicate employees regarding organization crisis team to deal with coronavirus situation
  • Communicate about organization's employee assistance (financial, leave, logistics) program if any of the employee or his/her family members develop any symptoms of coronavirus
  • Commutate employees about insurance policy so they are aware on the same

Analytics - There is powerful data available with technology that helps the company to better understand the workforce, where they are located, the demographic profiles, and their current activities. This information can help the company to target potential high-risk pools more efficiently and to develop mitigation strategies early. In fact, this could be done ahead of time through disaster scenario planning, which could trigger predetermined protocols and action plans. Computer simulations can be programmed to be adaptive in nature so that the protocols can change automatically in real-time, like how NOAA communicates weather warnings with guidance.

Data can also be used to determine communications with customers, vendors, suppliers, and other stakeholders with respect to organization disaster protocols, meeting cancellations, and travel restrictions, etc. This program can be made possible by HR technology.

Preparedness - Samples of other HR Technology benefits:

  • A Company with more excellent mobile and video technology could temporarily support an emergency program to work from home and help to keep the lights on for the business, especially if the business is in a key services area for customers.
  • Using an LMS to deliver situational training
  • Identify those who may be required to work from home and activate predesigned programs for help with food or grocery delivery.
  • Quickly address leave request and rapid policy updates that are delivered through the system, so there is little wait in critical situations
  • And not too far off, will have personal wearable sensors that will be able to detect if you have been exposed to a virus or other pathogen

I could go on.

The point is, HR technology can be used for good and help minimize the cost of dealing with a pandemic and other catastrophic events, including the loss of life. It is yet another reason to use technology altruistically for the betterment of life... sooner rather than later.

About Author

Steve Bradley is Former VP and Director for the Cloud HCM Practice at Birlasoft. He has over 20 years of HCM technology experience – and founder of two HR service companies, SystemLink and Learn2Perform. He is a frequent speaker at conference events and advisor to organizations of all sizes on the topic of HR Digital Transformation, HCM Technology and HR Organizational Change in a technology age.

Mr. Steve Bradley
Mr. Steve Bradley
Former Vice President & Global HCM Solution Director, Birlasoft
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