Why HR should push the reset button

It’s been hard to know where to start with writing this column. At the time of writing it we’re in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, I’m due to give birth to my second child any time now and my husband is sick and hasn’t been out of bed for five days.

All around the world nations are in the grip of this virus and life has changed on an unprecedented scale. My heart and thoughts are with all of those who have lost loved ones in this challenging time and who are struggling to come to terms with the events playing out around them.

So, it’s hard to know what to say and where to begin. I think the first thing to acknowledge here is gratitude. Gratitude to all those working on the front line to help get the rest of us through this and to preserve lives.

Gratitude to all of those seen and unseen who are doing their part no matter how big or small to make a difference to their communities and the people around them. And gratitude that we actually have the privilege of being able to self-isolate where this is not the case for many people in the world who are living through this pandemic.

My thoughts are also with the HR community. In my career I don’t remember a more challenging time to be working and leading in this profession.

From first response, crisis management, critical planning, business continuity and then onwards into recovery, HR people all around the world are stepping up to this challenge and doing their best to help the organisations they support navigate a path through it and to support their people.

I’ve talked about pushing the reset button before as a facet of self-care and wellbeing but this time round it seems very much like the reset button has been pressed for us. The world is re-setting, business is re-setting and somehow through all of this we will find a way to adapt and respond.

So, the best thing I think I can say is in whatever it is that you’re working on right now, go with whatever course of action feels right for you. The best you can do is to make decisions based on the information that is available to you in that moment and, where you can, do it with a forward focus.

Let go of any compelling urge for things to get back to how they were before any of this happened, because things won’t be the same after this.

In times of uncertainty and crisis this is a basic instinct that kicks in for all of us, a want for things to return to how they were. But, even if this hadn’t happened things would have moved on and changed. The best we can do is to start modelling paths and scenarios for the new state of normal that will slowly begin to emerge.

So, where you can, stay practical and grounded. Work with the resources that are available to you and this applies to things you’re doing at work and outside of it. Small steps forwards are ok and it’s ok not to have all the answers to all of the questions that are coming your way. Just do your best and know that in doing your best you will be making a difference here.

There will be times in this where you feel you have bursts of energy so use that where you can and equally there will be times when you’re just going to need to stop and focus on your own self care and give yourself time to process what’s going on.

It’s ok if you need to stop and take some time out, people will understand. So, listen when that happens and if you can, now more than ever, ensure that you are fuelling your body in such a way that will support and boost your own immune system to help you maintain the balance of energy you need.

There are so many things happening around us that we can’t control and can’t predict and honestly people don’t expect you to be able to do that. Whenever a reset button is pressed it’s a chance to start again and to take the lessons we’ve learned forwards into whatever the new map of our world and business will look like.

So, aim to focus on the facts of what we know and of what we’ve learned and are still learning. When you can, build that into a short-term model of actions for the coming days and weeks and then expand that out into mid and longer-term planning with multiple scenario options.

Update your scenarios as more facts and information becomes available to you. Remember, your aim is not to get things back to how they were, it’s to progress and move forwards here to whatever the new normal will be.

Keep the lines of communication open. We might be self-isolating but we don’t need to be isolated. Lean on your HR community, that’s what being part of this community is all about, getting help when you need it and giving help when you can. Use the resources that are available to you right now and be kind to yourself, we need you.

Karen Beaven is an HR director, author and strategist.