Ian Hodson: Should employers be preparing now for further waves of the Covid-19 virus?

At the University of Lincoln, we are certainly preparing all our responses to have longevity as well as meeting the short-term needs.

At face value, nothing has changed since we went into lockdown other than controlling the spread through lockdown and social distancing, therefore, we have to believe that as restrictions lift, we could see a second wave develop. Whether we have a second wave of Covid-19 (Coronavirus) remains to be seen and there are so many variables that come into play, however, what we are starting to realise is that the impact of Coronavirus has left longer-term changes to the workplace.

We have invested time and energy into creating support mechanisms such as a working from home wellbeing microsite, moved our financial education online, and also refocused our reward and recognition site to be able to support a more virtual workforce and approach to management.

We have done this because we expect the legacy of Coronavirus to be a more agile workforce and organisation where we need to ensure that we are addressing the ways of working that may now be the new normal, and also the employee engagement and wellbeing challenges that go with it, which have become a priority.

If we see another spike in respect of Coronavirus, we will certainly be in a strong position to not only be dealing with high absence trends and staff welfare issues, but to also be in a position to keep the workforce motivated and educated proactively.

We support our workforce through developing a staff resource hub through the HR team, to allow available resources to be reallocated across the workforce to meet needs and to ensure key services keep running. I am sure that if we have to roll out such services again, it will be a lot simpler than what was very much a trial-and-error approach during this first wave.

We have considered our employee communications and are much better prepared to be able to reach out to the workforce now, which will serve us well if a second wave does come.

Ian Hodson is head of reward/deputy director of human resources at The University of Lincoln. 

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