The COVID-19 pandemic ignited a crisis on a global scale, affecting the vast majority of businesses and industries. The rapid nature of the outbreak meant that businesses had to react, and quickly, testing the resilience and adaptability of both companies and their teams.

With entire workforces operating from home, the human resources department was at the forefront of this operational change. HR professionals have had to ensure their organisation has an effective strategy in place to manage the immense changes and minimise damage caused by this global pandemic. 

At, we want to share our insights with you on the three key areas of HR’s role in crisis management; 1) creating a crisis communication plan, 2) focusing on the wellbeing of employees, and 3) providing access to relevant training and development. 

HR During Crisis Management

Create A Crisis Communication Plan 

An effective crisis response requires an understanding of what your people need from management and how to provide it. Therefore, in preparation for a crisis, HR needs to lead in establishing a crisis management team, involving key stakeholders of each department (IT, Finance, Comms, Risk Management, Operations etc.). This team then decides on the resources needed and how best to communicate information to all employees, as well as customers and external stakeholders. 

Communicating with transparency and clarity is the number one principle for leading successfully during a crisis. During such a time, you cannot avoid bad news, but you can display honesty and empathy in your communications, which will help the business to overcome obstacles more easily and protect your employees’ health. 

Consider the pathways and platforms in which the communication is sent out, too. Do you have a page on the company’s intranet with all the latest information and updated policies, or is it better to send out a weekly update email? Try to cater to however your team is most comfortable communicating and ensure it’s a two-way channel where questions can be asked and answered.

The Role of HR During Crisis Management

Focus On Wellbeing and Support 

The mental health and wellbeing of employees is always a priority for HR, but during a crisis, this becomes even more important as sudden change and uncertainty can bring additional stress and strain. With COVID-19, many employees will be working from home for the first time. This creates new challenges for most, including the balance of homeschooling, childcare and work. Others may be anxious about their finances or find it difficult to adapt to working in isolation. 

Focusing on this will also help with the recovery phase as you come out of the crisis, as not only will your staff be better equipped to manage the new changes, but they will also be more loyal, trusting and motivated to add value to your business as a result of your commitment to support them during a difficult time.

HR During Crisis Management

Provide Access To Relevant Training & Development 

HR also needs to lead the way in delivering essential training and development to enable all employees to continue doing their job to their best ability during a crisis. With the current global pandemic, this may include training on remote technical systems, how to effectively lead a remote team and how to support their own teams and co-workers better. It is ultimately the managers’ responsibility to recognise any skill-gaps as a result of a crisis, but HR should centralise this support so that all employees have equal access. 

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