Coronavirus: What initiatives have HR taken?

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Amidst the evolving situation of the COVID-19, companies are striving to mitigate business disruption as well as to ensure wellbeing of their employees.

Undoubtedly, HR teams are now at the front line of each company during this unusual time. They are working non-stop to provide updated information and advice to senior leaders to facilitate decision making, and to set up contingency plans and policies for staff to follow.  

Anna Cuzon, managing consultant of Robert Walters South Africa has talked to a number of HR professionals to learn how they have been dealing with the challenges.

How do HR leaders approach the coronavirus in the workplace? 

They have come up with policies and guidelines to standardise the practices across the entire organisation. Some of the measures include: 

1/ Travel policy

  • Some companies have implemented limited travel across Africa and abroad.
  • Some of them have cancelled all global meetings and internal events

2/ Work arrangement 

  • Splitting employees into groups to take turns to come into the office and work from home. Some companies do alternate weeks, and some shift every 2 or 3 days 
  • Flexi hours to avoid peak hours traffic in public transportation 
  • For employees who used to travel frequently, some employers have allowed them to work from home (given they have adequate technical support) 
  • Shorter working hours from 9 am to 3pm or 4pm 
  • Self-initiated quarantine and mandatory quarantine if needed or required


What else could HR do to handle the situation? 

  • Strategise to retain top performing staff during such a crisis and review hiring plan for 2020 
  • Roll out engagement/wellbeing programmes to drive engagement and resilience in the workforce 
  • Coordinate cleaners to come into office to ensure office space is safe and hygienic for staff to return to work. 

Interview arrangements 

Companies who are conducting face to face interviews have required candidates to have their temperature taken at reception desks and wearing mask will be a pre-requisite. Hand sanitizer is also provided before the candidates are escorted into the interview room. Some companies also require candidates to declare their travel history. 

Many companies have started conducting interviews via Skype/Zoom. 

Skills in demand from HR 

Crisis management skills are key in such critical moments. HR professionals are also required to have commercial sense in order to give suitable advice to the business.


Robert Walters offer expert hiring advice to our clients looking to attract and retain top professionals whilst accommodating the needs and demands of the modern workforce. Contact us today at for your latest recruitment needs. 

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