HR responds to COVID-19: Hertfordshire County Council

The ‘human touch’ has been fundamental to helping employees at Hertfordshire County Council respond to coronavirus.

Speaking to HR magazine, assistant HR director Sally Hopper detailed how her team are dealing with the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Currently, her role is focussed on keeping key services such as care homes running and helping staff adapt to remote working and looking after their wellbeing.

“Our leadership mantra has been to our staff that we trust you to make the right decisions at this time. In summary clear comms have been key,” Hopper said.

“We’ve provided clarity, reassurance and the human touch – and colleagues are trusted to make the right calls. An all-staff ‘virtual’ video, featuring messages from various members of the senior management team including our chief executive Owen Mapley was produced for the intranet for the first time.”

Employees have also benefited from learning new tech skills and have quickly adapted to the roll out of Microsoft Teams across the business.

Hopper added: “Effective staff engagement is vital to us and the virtual video provided a personal and human touch which is important at any time but particularly right now when many staff have had to adapt quickly to starkly different working conditions, not to mention big changes to how they live. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if anyone felt isolated or uninformed.”

Hopper also made a quickfire decision to switch the recruitment team into a redeployment hub where displaced staff are given new roles and key partners, such as the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, are supported by helping displaced members of the community find employment.

“Along with innovation, some of our council’s true values are kindness and compassion, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence of that in these times more than ever before,” Hopper said.

“Working in the public sector is often misrecognised. One day, when we reflect upon the experience of working where we did at the time of COVID-19, perhaps this will be viewed by more as a career where what you do really does matter.”

To keep staff informed, the County Council has written FAQs which are constantly updated.

It also introduced a ‘Looking after Yourself and Wellbeing’ for all staff members plus a managers’ guide.

Further reading:

Employers boost wellbeing funding during coronavirus pandemic

Five companies going the extra mile for employees during coronavirus

COVID-19: The critical questions all HR departments must ask