As the COVID-19 pandemic instantaneously surfaced, organizations—big or small—were all forced to amend in order to survive. The role of Human Resource (HR) since the onset of this crisis has been progressively grueling, balancing all existing responsibilities while ensuring that the workplace remains cohesive despite these challenging times.
CREATING A SAFE WORKPLACE AND POSITIVE CULTURE DURING CRISIS
After the lockdown, some companies have resumed operation and it has been an arduous responsibility for their HR departments to implement strict COVID-19 health protocols.
Thus, Ms. Celedonia C. Salazar, or Cindy to her colleagues, the HR and Admin Head of Cosmic Technologies Inc. (CTI) and other affiliate companies, took the lead in ensuring that all health protocols and policies were already in place even before the employees got back to work.
While the lockdown was still in effect, her team was closely monitoring the situation, hence was able to create suitable guidelines and process—in line with that of the Department of Health (DOH)—to properly accommodate the employees especially since most of them are using public transportation. They worked hand in hand to comply with government requirements in applying for financial aid for all employees to extend help while life at the metropolis was seemingly put to a halt.
Prior to the first day of work, there was already a walkthrough demonstrated by the HR department—from the process of entering the premise to boarding the elevators—every piece of information was properly disseminated. One of their initial initiatives were free shuttle services and schedule adjustment when there was still significant lack of transportation.
At present, CTI employees are regularly reporting to the office but the HR Department guarantees that their overall health and safety are prioritized. “Since June until present, we have regularly conducted free rapid and antigen testing every two weeks for all employees.
Meanwhile, the RT-PCR swab testing cost is reimbursable and those who test positive for the COVID-19 virus are paid in full up to 30 days of their quarantine.”
In relation, the HR Department with the help of the company nurse who is medically equipped to administer, see to it that everyone is consistently educated on COVID-19, updated on government announcements, and mindful of safety protocols. Also, confidentiality is upheld to make sure no one who tests positive will be discriminated.
Like other companies, CTI also strictly implements proper social distancing and wearing of face masks at all times, as well as faceshields whenever necessary. Conferences and general assemblies are conducted via Zoom. If a need for a physical meeting arises, attendees are seated one meter apart. In addition, there is a misting area and temperature scanner upon entry, alcohol dispensers are placed on every floor, infographic flyers posted on bulletin boards, and informational videos played repeatedly at the lobby. Employees are discouraged from going outside during lunch so they are advised to bring their own food. They are also required to present a filled out health declaration form through the Cherry DHA application before entering the building everyday. Common areas are also regularly sanitized on top of other health and sanitary measures.
“It is true that in order to win against COVID-19, we have to work as one. I am grateful that the management sincerely care for their people and always find ways to be of help. I would also like to commend the employees of CTI and its affiliate companies for being cooperative in adhering to our safety policies.”
HR AS TACTICAL ALLY OF ORGANIZATIONS
Cindy’s role as HR and Admin Head in the midst of this pandemic definitely sounds like a tough row to hoe. Opportunely though, she had long-mastered how to maneuver around her profession.
Cindy mentions how she is highly selective when it comes to hiring her teammates and this, as she supposes, is also one of the factors which contributed to how the organization was able to remain steadfast amidst these trying times. “It pays to be meticulous when choosing candidates. I am beyond grateful that behind me is a team of hardworking and reliable individuals who have especially been of great help now that we are facing this crisis.”
Before the pandemic, the HR Department had been actively mounting initiatives such as trainings, team buildings, sportsfests, and other activities that promote engagement among employees. “One of the secrets I have learned working in this field for many years is that you should value the employees’ growth and welfare.”
It is important to note that during tough times, the employees are the most important resources which keep businesses going. This is where the importance of HR becomes more evident—how they are able to keep the workforce motivated and productive. The HR department has since devoted its effort to employee relations and all of this obviously paid off at this time when the company needed it most.
With all the struggles of adapting to the “new normal”, Cindy shares the secret to rising to the problem and becoming an effective leader. “I believe that Clarity, Courage, and Compassion are three vital qualities every good leader must possess. You should be clear on your vision, have the determination to achieve them, and finally be empathic as our calling is chiefly centered on dealing with human beings and real-life situations.”
Since joining the company in 2012, it has always been Cindy’s goal to create a balance in protecting the interest of the organization as well as of the employees. This is what inspires her to continue her mission as the Head of Human Resource of the thriving local tech brand.
Cindy obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from Lyceum of the Philippines University. She received her Master’s Degree in Business Administration at De La Salle University and likewise took a number of labor-related courses at the University of the Philippines – School of Labor and Industrial Relations. She is also an active member of the People Management Association of the Philippines.