April 13, 2020

Uncharted Territory – Navigate with Compassion

By Simone Putnam, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, Partner-in-Charge, Managed Human Resources

Uncharted Territory – Navigate with Compassion Nonprofit & Social Sector

Marcum’s Managed Human Resources team is client–facing, and much of our time is ordinarily spent at client sites and in Marcum’s office. So working remotely under coronavirus conditions, which is keeping us away from one another 100% of the time, is a bit of a shift in how we collaborate and bond as a team. We are being as creative as we can to stay connected and trying to keep “business as usual” to the extent possible.

Most of our clients are also operating as a fully remote workforce, with employees coming into the office on a schedule to collect and deposit checks and take care of other essential items that require an on-site presence.

Many organizations put into place emergency continuity plans after 9/11. Now that those plans have been put into action, with no definitive end date in sight, I’m thinking about the “people” aspect of business continuity that I’m not sure anyone was fully prepared for.

This is uncharted territory, and the thought that keeps coming to my mind is that we need to navigate with compassion. Compassion for those employees whose stress levels have spiked because they have young children at home (with the schools closed). Compassion for those non-exempt employees whose jobs rely heavily on working in an office and are now struggling to find replacement work. Compassion for those employees who live alone and are cut off from all in-person interaction. Compassion for those employees who have already lost their jobs or who will lose their jobs or part of their pay due to events beyond anyone’s control.

What I suspect is that once we all eventually return to our offices, we will be operating under a “new normal.” Prior to the pandemic, unemployment was extremely low. The news has reported that by the time the pandemic is over, unemployment could be as high as 20%, and estimates change daily.

So what can we do now?

Remember our humanity

  • Loving our neighbor and treating others with compassion is how we survive and ultimately thrive.

Connect with colleagues

  • Reach out to your colleagues to collaborate and check in on a daily basis so that you’re supporting one another as a team. Offer to help with a colleague’s work load if you have the capacity to help alleviate stress for a colleague in need. Remember that we all are processing the COVID-19 situation differently, based on our life experiences and philosophical points of view. Your colleagues may be experiencing the crisis differently than yourself.

Show empathy and social intelligence

  • Both are critically important to the psychological health of the workplace. While employees are still accountable for meeting work obligations, flexibility around timing of deliverables as well as flexibility of work hours may be necessary for employee success during periods of crisis.

None of us can control the pandemic, but we can control how positive we stay in our own minds, how well we support our team members and how compassionate we are to other human beings who may cross our paths.

Marcum’s Managed HR Services team is here to support organizations in interpreting their obligations under the new Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), as well as to support any HR needs that inevitably will arise during this time of crisis. Contact Simone Putnam at [email protected] for assistance.

Coronavirus Resource Center

Have more questions about the impact of the coronavirus on your business? Visit Marcum’s Coronavirus Resource Center for up-to-date information.