By Hari Viswanathan
Over the last several weeks, as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread across the country, we’ve been reaching out to HR leaders and plant managers in the manufacturing industry to gather insights, advice, and best practices.
We asked them one simple question:
How are you keeping your company operational through the economic and logistical turmoil caused by the pandemic?
Our goal is to share the information we’ve gleaned to help others make better decisions faster through the power of community collaboration.
Here are the 5 most common steps the HR leaders we spoke to shared with us:
1. Implement work-from-home routines when possible.
While working from home is relatively easy to implement in businesses that don’t produce physical goods, work-from-home policies have been a lot harder with manufacturers that need to operate factories. Where possible, HR leaders have mandated workers to stay home and perform any tasks that can be done on a computer. HR leaders are attempting to reduce the risk of an outbreak by reducing the number of people at the facility at any one time. By having workers perform non-production work at home, they’re also protecting essential employees who have to come into the plant.
2. Protect HR team members.
It’s important to recognize that the sheer number of decisions to be made, policies to be drafted and implemented, and communications to be delivered to employees has taken a special toll on HR and operations leaders. Make sure to take care of these individuals using processes such as:
3. Reduce chances of exposure and promote social distancing.
HR leaders also shared some of the tips and actions that they took to help reduce exposure at their plants:
4. Stagger shifts.
Some companies have implemented shifts that are staggered to avoid interactions between teams that work different shifts. Staggering shifts also helps to isolate outbreaks to specific shifts, so that the team members on that shift could be quarantined in the event of an outbreak. Staggering also allows for sanitization of workspaces before the next shift begins.
5. Implement helpful PTO and sick policies.
Many manufacturers are focusing on retaining as much of their workforce as possible during this difficult time. Managing mindful PTO and sick policies that support workers is essential.
Some of the HR leaders we spoke with took the following actions:
With daily updates and an ever-changing situation, manufacturers are scrambling to incorporate as much fresh information into their decision-making process as possible. We uncovered a few tips that helped make sense of the chaos:
Try to retain as much of your workforce as possible. It's important to remember that economic uncertainties like these are temporary, and it’ll be harder to find trained employees that are familiar with your business when we get past this crisis. Most HR leaders we spoke to agreed that employees understand their employers’ financial standings and are open to taking unpaid leave or a temporary reduction in hours to stay employed and retain insurance coverage.