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The Strategic Role of HR in the “Need to Continue Working” Arena

The needs of NGOs working on other causes have increased due to the pandemic, but their fund flows are drying up.

Janaina Tavares

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Around The World

Unleash Your Business Continuity Strategy Creating a business continuity strategy in the NGO sector – doing “more with less”.

  • During the entire quarantine, ActionAid Brazil has developed and participated in a series of studies on how NGO´s should face the coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to the results of the research, there are three phases to overcome the crisis: respond (when the situation begins, and it is necessary to act quickly); recover (focus on critical areas to prepare for the resumption), and sustain (the return to normality in a new context).
  • The recovery will not be linear, as the COVID-19 pandemic will go through different phases of opening and isolation until a vaccine is discovered and applied in bulk. Therefore, leaders must work with several possible scenarios.

Unleash Your Business Continuity Strategy Creating a business continuity strategy in the NGO sector – doing “more with less”.

  • During the entire quarantine, ActionAid Brazil has developed and participated in a series of studies on how NGO´s should face the coronavirus pandemic.
  • According to the results of the research, there are three phases to overcome the crisis: respond (when the situation begins, and it is necessary to act quickly); recover (focus on critical areas to prepare for the resumption), and sustain (the return to normality in a new context).
  • The recovery will not be linear, as the COVID-19 pandemic will go through different phases of opening and isolation until a vaccine is discovered and applied in bulk. Therefore, leaders must work with several possible scenarios.

The Nonprofit Sector’s Covid Crisis for Business Continuity

Concerns about the world’s future in the post-pandemic are being discussed by companies, nonprofits, governments and societies.

Just as the world was not prepared for a pandemic and finds it difficult to manage the crisis around it, the next post-pandemic steps are also uncertain.  For Nonprofit Organizations, the need to manage the effects of the pandemic crisis is extremely important, especially when we are entering the “Need to Continue Working” arena.

You might be asking yourself, why are NGOs struggling at a time when we are watching and hearing from different sources that individuals and corporations are making generous contributions, going out of their way to raise funds? The answer is simple. People are donating more than before, but it is directed mainly towards Covid-19 relief. The demand for NGOs working on other causes has increased due to the pandemic, but their fund flows are drying up.


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As soon as Covid-19 hit, governments, non-government organizations, companies, and corporate social responsibility changed course to focus on resources for organizations that are dealing with the pandemic  

While several NGOs worldwide stepped up to the challenge of developing programs that would respond quickly, the organizations that had specific ongoing or planned projects had to place everything on hold. The donations were being directed to specific COVID-19 projects. 

The economic scenario has been directly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, NGO´s are facing this crisis, and with the need to reinvent themselves to succeed in their business continuity goals.

HR is the key piece to ensure the balance between organization and employees,

In this context, HR is the key piece to ensure the balance between the organization and employees. With many organizations adopting the home office work model, maintaining effective management and ensuring the productivity of teams working remotely is part of the challenge HR is facing and will still face.

During the entire quarantine, we have developed and participated in a series of studies on how NGO´s should face the coronavirus pandemic. According to the results of the research, there are three phases to overcome the crisis: respond (when the situation begins, and it is necessary to act quickly); recover (focus on critical areas to prepare for the resumption), and sustain (the return to normality in a new context).

The human resources area plays a strategic role in each of these phases – especially in times of recovery and support. The recovery will not be linear, as the covid-19 pandemic will go through different phases of opening and isolation until a vaccine is discovered and applied in bulk. Therefore, leaders must work with several possible scenarios.

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Below I have listed 5 points that Human Resources executives need to pay attention during and after the pandemic:

Reflect

It is important to analyze what worked and what was missing at the time the organization responded to the crisis. For this reflection to work, HR needs to include multiple voices in the conversation – and not be restricted to the opinions of others. This step takes some time, so try not to be in a hurry to reach conclusions.

Reiterate the commitment to continue

NGO´s need to reiterate their commitment to well-being and purpose, focusing on the physical, mental and financial concerns of the workforce. For example, leaders need to support the diverse needs of employees and help them cope with the crisis and be ready for recovery. Concern for well-being should also be applied to employees’ family issues, many of them caring for children or older relatives.

At this point, the employee support should also extend the psychological issues at this delicate moment. New questions will arise and extend, such as the need for face-to-face work, for example. Therefore, HR should show the employees that the organization is open to assist in emotional issues, which is one of the principles for employee well-being.

Purpose gains even more strength right now. People need to connect strongly with the organizations, whether as supporters,  donors or as professionals. Therefore, there is a need to communicate to employees frequently about how their work relates to the organization’s objectives, values and business continuity strategy.

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Re-engage

With employees living a new reality at work – whether in a full home office, working only a few days at home or being in person in business – it is necessary to strengthen engagement. This can be done by reinforcing the purpose of the work and creating new opportunities for professionals to apply their skills within the organizations.  Many skills were developed during the crisis.

From the leadership point of view, it is important to balance the individual issues of team members with the strategic business continuity needs of the organization. Transparency is also key: managers must make it clear that priorities, objectives and scopes can change as recovery takes place.

Rethink

Work, the workforce and workspaces are already undergoing accelerated transformations due to the coronavirus crisis and this scenario should continue in the post-pandemic. Nonprofits need to identify what the needs of new areas are and challenge leaders to think about how teams should work to achieve the new goals. This means considering whether it is best to have remote or face-to-face work, what the role of the physical office will be for the day-to-day of employees, and what are the most important technologies to be implemented for business continuity success.

Thinking about people management, it is necessary to analyze issues such as: benefits package (to meet the new needs of employees in home office, for example), performance evaluation and employment contracts.

Also, a corporate mindsetis needed within the nonprofit sector.  Keeping the mindset of employees aligned with the organizations purposes is as important as guiding them and accompanying them in this change. Today, one of the main difficulties to adapt to the new normal are irreducible employees of digital transformation.

Restart

If HR is misaligned with the organizations new objectives and can’t anticipate needs, recovery may not work. Therefore, it is important that people management teams understand what the priorities are for the organization and the workforce. HR must adopt the agility to change direction when necessary and focus on adaptive organizational strategies, new ways of working and digital transformation. “In the workplace of the future, HR can become the voice that makes courageous decisions in the face of uncertainty.

Human Resources Business Continuity Within the New Normal

In this changing scenario, the human resources sector plays a key role in helping organizations adapt to the new standard. Therefore, to implement a new culture, human resources professionals need to be up to date on transformations. In addition, plan actions that direct employees to social and economic recovery  and promote transparent recruitment.

We know that organizations are already adapting to changes in various aspects. But, it is necessary to understand the changes in the behavior of employees and how the transformations driven by the crisis impact the work routine and the daily life of people.

Therefore, in the new normal the human resources team should focus even more on the human capital of the organization. And thus, to understand the longings faced at that moment and lead to a new reality, or the permanence of the transformations that have already occurred.

The HR professional that works in the NGO sector faces the same obstacles, questions and uncertainties that any other sector does the only difference is that we need to do “More With Less” in order for our budget to develop the projects that are much needed for the areas and people that have been severely hit due to this pandemic.

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