Generalist HR Forum – Covid-19 | Friday 17th April

  • Thought Leadership

In response to the Covid-19 Health and Developing Economic Crisis FWB Park Brown (FWB PB) is working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support which also includes discussion forums and Q & As.

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On Friday 17th April, Alix Meekison hosted two HR Generalist forums, bringing together HR professionals across a broad range of industry sectors. The forums aim to enable connectivity and knowledge sharing across the HR discipline, as businesses navigate through a number of people related challenges throughout this period. On each forum, one participant kindly shared their experience of how the challenges have evolved within their own business, facilitating discussion and questions from the rest of the group.

The discussion covered a diverse range of topics, some of which will be explored in greater detail during our upcoming Specialist HR forums. Key discussion points included:

Working Practices

There continues to be a focus on managing the immediate challenges presented to organisations with respect to mobilising the workforce to work from home where possible, as well as supporting key workers find a balance between working and home life. Many organisations continue to work directly with employees to identify a preferred way of working and enable the workforce to choose a working pattern which suits them best. This is particularly prevalent where employees are experiencing challenges with childcare or home schooling.

Whilst there continues to be a focus on managing the ‘here and now’, it was prevalent that many organisations are starting to consider what the ‘new norm’ may look like for their business. Reflecting on some of the benefits of the Covid-19 situation, in some cases work groups were being set up internally to capture some of the learnings identified from the various working practices that are currently being utilised. There is a recognition that the crisis may change the nature of business and the workplace in future and therefore, considering what we can bring forward into the ‘new norm’ will be relevant.

Now that the majority of organisations have new working practices set up, there is a shift towards recording and using data to understand how well this may be working. For example, some organisations are tracking and reporting on absence to inform some of their future decision making and planning. Based on previous years absence, businesses are forecasting what the trend lines may be and how the organisation’s current interventions are impacting the workforce positively or negatively. Comparing 2019 annual leave data was also helping some organisations make decisions around their policy in this respect and whether they needed to encourage employees to take annual leave during this period.

Furloughed Workers

Over the last two weeks, there have been changes to some of the guidance surrounding furlough as well as the UK government workforce retention scheme itself, including the extension of the scheme until the end of June. It is clear that organisations are having to respond to these changes as and when they arise, and the evolving landscape generally is making it challenging for HR professionals to keep up with the pace in change. In some cases, this has meant that staff who were previously being made redundant are now being offered some protection under the furlough scheme, which is a positive, though challenging for HR teams from a communications perspective as well as workload.

There was a concern raised in that as time moves on, working employees may become somewhat disgruntled by the furlough scheme, particularly where an organisation is topping up furlough salaries to 100%. Furloughed employees continue to be entitled to the same amount of annual leave as working employees as annual leave is still accrued whilst on the scheme however, whether this would this be viewed as fair by those employees who are still working, was raised as a concern. Some organisations are already thinking about their strategy in this respect and many were anticipating that they will move in a similar direction. One of the measures highlighted during the discussion included asking furloughed workers to take some of their annual leave prior to returning to work.


Last week FWB Park Brown also hosted a specialist Internal Communications forum due to the increase many organisations have had on this topic. Communication continues to be at the forefront of this crisis and the majority of organisations have increased their communications with staff during this time. From a work perspective, ensuring communications are regular, concise and easy to digest was key for all participants.

From this particular discussion, it was highlighted that many organisations are also encouraging social communications to take place. Some examples shared included setting up running or cycling groups via apps such as Strava, virtual fitness classes, quizzes and baking classes to ensure employees remained engaged from a non-work perspective. Employers are recognising the blur between home and work-life for many employees right now and playing a role in ensuring the workforce has some downtime was considered important.

For a downloadable copy of the above article please click here.

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The Scottish HR Leadership Group

Primarily the Scottish HR Leadership Group will focus on the advancement of the profession in Scotland plus have a development and mentoring framework.  Our aim is to ensure an interesting, diverse and experienced group of senior practitioners across all sectors who can develop talent and as business leaders contribute and influence the broader societal agenda.

The purpose of this forum is to allow Senior HR Leaders to share their own experiences and gain further insight, thoughts and ideas and to allow more connectivity within the HR community given the evolving global Covid-19 pandemic.

Summaries of the discussions will be posted on our news section and also on LinkedIn.

For further information about any of these forums please contact us via:
Alix Meekison
Director, FWB Park Brown & Secretary, The Scottish HR Leadership Group
t. +44 (0)131 539 7087

Get in touch

Contact the team at FWB Park Brown to discuss your individual or company requirements, or to discover more about our specialist services.