top of page


Something new that we as HR practitioners have recently encountered and what we are going to be “digging into in this article” is the black sheep of the HR world, better known as COVID-19.

In family’s black sheep are known to bring about destruction, chaos, and deviation from rules.

Before we begin let us all sanitize and check our temperatures as we explore some of the most revealed challenges and then devise some pragmatic and progressive solutions.

It cannot be denied that COVID-19 has served as a disruptor in the labour context by presenting employers with entirely novel legal challenges and forcing them to adapt their labour practices to remain commercially viable. Our labour legislation has developed to cater for labour disputes and industrial action in a world free from pandemics.

With the growing number of people still being infected with coronavirus and then the fear of the virus being spread as workplaces start to open, many HR Departments have been put under the spotlight.

What steps can you take to pandemic proof your HR Department?

1.    Develop a business continuity plan or an effective “pandemic playbook”

  • So much of this will depend on how you treat your people during the time they need you most.

  • People: lives of your employees and their families

  • Processes: operations 

  • Profits: revenue

  • Partnerships: strategy and environmental

2.    Assess your current workforce

  • Identify your current employee’s knowledge, skills and abilities, this may also include evaluating your employee’s strengths, education levels and additional training or certifications. In the unfortunate event that an employer may have to contemplate a S189, fair procedure needs to be followed and by having all the above documentation in order it could prevent costly mistakes

  • Consider what talents employees have beyond their current job descriptions

  • Performance reviews may also be a very helpful tool here

3.   Create employee development

  • Having qualified employees is only one step when building a long term, winning workforce. To make a real impact your employees work needs to support the company’s growth goals.

4.    Create a gap analysis

  • Do employees job descriptions, match the expectations you currently have for your employees and outline all the skills and requirements

  • When last did you update your employee policies and procedures and employment contracts?

  • Training programs – are employees being prepared for their roles in an organized way that still makes sense according to the business needs?

What has the “black sheep” really done to our current employee engagement though?

Has it taken a global crisis for businesses to wake up to the fact that when people do not feel safe, supported, or emotionally secure they simply cannot do their jobs? May this be a business transformation disguised as a pandemic.

Current research has revealed that employee engagement has been affected in the following ways:

  • Employers have been “more protective” of the employees. The thing first and foremost on employee’s minds is their personal financial security. Worried about their jobs and the viability of the company. 

Many companies have addressed this by, giving employees more flexible benefits as a, tradeoff for a reduction in salary and improving work at home programs

  • There has been an increase in personal productivity due to all the resources being made available for remote working

  • Huge growth in learning – the response to online learning has skyrocketed and is has been proven that the more balanced people the better they perform. the perform best. Remote working has provided employees with more spare time to learn these power skills

  • There has been a change in leadership culture, CEO’s have even referred to as “Chief Empathy Officers”. There has been a prioritizing of relationships and check-ins.

  • “Work at home” is working well

  • At the, moment it may be tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel or hold a sense of optimism for the future, but tomorrow will be improved by the struggles we are facing today. 

The current crisis will eventually pass and a new normal will emerge – and there is plenty of reason to believe that future will be bright.

As business owners and HR practitioners let us take full advantage of the HR “black sheep” before we look back and it has turned into a scapegoat! 

Article by Tiffany Reed

HR Consultant

14 views0 comments


bottom of page