HR Leadership Discussion Forum, Americas – Covid-19 | Thursday 9th April

  • Thought Leadership

FWB Park Brown and Employer Flexible joined together to host an Americas HR Leadership Online Roundtable on Thursday April 9, 2020 to share ideas, talk about the challenges in the current atmosphere and act as a place of support.  Mary McIntyre, Managing Director – Houston of FWB Park Brown and Wade Vielock, Vice President of Client Services of Employer Flexible hosted the hour-long event. A few highlights of the conversation included specific strategies some companies are taking to deal with the crisis, the importance of creating a safe work environment for employees and innovative ways to manage costs.

Covid-19 Response Strategies

In general, the companies that feel they have a better handle on the evolving situation are those who implemented specific strategies early on in the crisis.  One common strategy for mid to large size companies was the creation of a Covid-19 Task Force/ Committee comprised of multiple functions across the organisation. Selected company leaders in different aspects of the business (finance, operations, HR and sales, for example), meet daily to discuss the ever-evolving situation. Discussions are different every meeting as these committees try to determine policies, procedures and overall employee well-being as more information is released and more concerns arise. These meetings have proved very successful and will continue until things are relatively back to normal. All companies are working to obtain a steady stream of up-to-date information from the government and marketplace in order to address issues as they arise and to keep their workforce informed.

Creating a Safe Work Environment

While many people are effectively working from home, others are deemed “location dependent” and are required to work in manufacturing facilities for essential goods, work on rotations delivering essential services, or work in the industrial/construction space. This presents unique challenges as employees are expressing serious concern on how people stay healthy while at work and also protect their families.

Most companies have implemented temperature scanning before walking into the work facilities. Others are also limiting the Point of Arrival and Exit to 1 or 2 doors, as well as enhanced sanitation and cleaning measures multiple times a day. Manufacturing facilities are working with skeleton crews and are also requiring Personal Protective Equipment.

Essential employee travel between states and countries also presents unique challenges as there are restrictions in place by states and countries as well as mandatory quarantines. This is especially felt in the oil & gas industry as workers rotate offshore or to various rig sites and the quarantines are having significant impact to production and cost. These are problems that currently do not have set solutions. Companies are working through these problems as best they can until viable solutions can be found.

Employees are expressing concern as well around the quarantines, not wanting to isolate at home with their families for fear of exposing their families to the virus; however, many cannot afford to isolate in substitute housing/hotel and are asking for the company to provide this.

In all instances, companies are facing the need to communicate and take actions to make their employees feel safe in the workplace. If they do not, they will risk having employees refuse to work or face demands such as hazard pay.  This will be a challenge faced as we move out of this environment in the future as well.

Managing Cost

As expected, most companies are currently facing severe economic hardships and looking for ways to reduce cost while maintaining employment for as many employees as possible. As a result, companies are taking advantage of the economic relief loans and stimulus offered by the US government. Various other solutions discussed were longer rotations, cutting resources to bare minimum, lowering hours for hourly employees, lowering salaries for exempt employees or a mixture of all.

Discussed in detail were FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) and CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act).

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

The HR Leadership Roundtable will be hosted on Zoom weekly with the core session lasting an hour, with a further 30 minutes available for informal discussion and networking for those who wish. For further details on this, or future events, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mary McIntyre ( or Lauren Vielock (

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FWB Park Brown
FWB Park Brown continues to deliver its full range of services which includes providing support and advice during the Covid-19 Public Health and developing global economic crisis.
We have established a range of cross sector as well as sector focused discussion forums for Chairs, NEDs, CEOs and all the main business management disciplines.  We are also working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support including discussion forums and Q & As.
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

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