By Eduardo Suárez Battán - Partner
June 2020

HR Executive in Pandemic

Nobody expected a “black swan” of such magnitude that it has impacted all of us as individuals and companies. A challenge of survival and adaptation to new rules of the game, new human behaviors and the lack of certainty about what will happen. The term VICA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) is present at its highest level.
HR executives are at this difficult juncture at the center of action, handling countless new issues related to human capital and at a speed never imagined. First, they came out as firefighters to “help and help” the collaborators, reorganizing processes to be safe and try to continue operating under the rules determined by the government or they had to close operations properly for an uncertain time. Then it was the concern that the collaborators could collect salaries, negotiating with unions, seeing that help would come from the government, with the different shareholders and managers, keeping in mind the cash and the payment chain and the business of each company.
In this complex panorama, HR executives, together with those responsible for Finance and Legal, have had to work intensely to give the appropriate recommendations to the owners and CEOs of the companies. They continue to work on various fronts such as suspensions, possible salary reductions, application of REPRO or other government aid such as ATP, relocations, contributions and other taxes to work, bargaining with unions, implementation of remote work and its consequences in the contention and the emotional. They also work on making up for the lack of physical presence of managers and on various issues related to leadership to minimize the impact of this crisis on human capital.
Another important front is the communications with the collaborators so that they can transmit clarity in the continuity of their jobs, the actions that are being carried out so that the company survives this serious situation or can “navigate” with the greatest possible stability in this situation. uncertain and complex path. Regardless of the situation of the company, internal and external communications are going to be key and must be honest, clear and simple. You have to achieve credibility and trust. In moments of crisis is where the moments of truth appear (“moment of truth”) that will leave their mark for a long time on employees and the general public.
But the HR executive will also have to think about the future, what it will be like after the crisis. Perhaps we will not be able to say that it is “when we return to normality” because most companies are going to change their business and the way they interact with their customers. The technological wave, which many of us said was arriving as a tsunami, is already here with us due to the impact of Covid19. There are concrete examples that are already a reality such as the exponential growth of e-commerce (online shopping), forms of online payment (especially in the BtoC), remote work that is no longer discussed, the use of robotics in the plants and automation in administrative processes, the collaborative work of people in different geographical locations will be through technology and without travel. The use of other technology tools that are already present (Block Chain, AI, Analytics, Cloud, Machine Learning, among others) will increase and others will emerge in the medium term. All this will impact on employees, their creativity will be used to change many businesses and the culture in many companies.
Challenging months ahead for HR executives. They should continue to take care of human capital, maintaining careful contact (remote or face-to-face) with employees and strengthen the climate; but also, have the strength to review processes, organizational structures, salaries, benefits, social charges, taxes and everything that implies taking care of the human capital of their companies and the private sources of work that are key in the generation of wealth in our country

Eduardo Suárez Battán


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