HR’s Role in Business Continuity Planning

Human resources professionals have long played a valuable role in business continuity planning and execution through crisis and uncertainty, and this pandemic has been no different. We’re in a unique position to bring together people from throughout the organization under a common mission.

Here are a few of the lessons I learned while facilitating continuity at my organization during this crisis.

Embrace Agile Principles

When hit by the pandemic in early March, we mobilized to remote work in a matter of days while maintaining service to our customers. Business continuity planning and execution is a team effort, so we gathered a cross-functional task force of leaders and key contributors across the organization to share their ideas and perspectives and accomplish our goal.

Having these diverse voices gathered in one place and working toward the same goal strengthened our response.

From a leadership perspective, I was amazed by how quickly we got stuff done while keeping our customers and employees top of mind. Somewhat unintentionally, we found ourselves incorporating many of the Agile concepts for this business continuity challenge. Our team has broad skill sets, and short, frequent touchpoints allowed us to effectively self-manage as we worked toward our shared goals. Team members enthusiastically took on new roles, embracing the opportunities for building cross-learning and cross-collaboration capabilities. These kinds of experiences help develop leaders who take a broader view, which will have an enduring impact on future success. The resiliency we’ve developed means we’re prepared no matter what comes next.

Lean On Your Core Values

Believe, Learn, Solve, Respect and Grow are the five core values we live by. We reintroduced our core values about a year and a half ago, before the pandemic. Our shared value system was solidly in place, and it provided a strong foundation for business continuity during the crisis. 

Our strong values drove the real-world actions of our employees. For example, our “Solve” value encourages us to go beyond identifying problems to seek solutions and “Respect” encourages us to support each other and embrace teamwork. So, when it came to making decisions for the business, we used these shared values, allowing the workforce to adapt quickly. If your values aren’t driving your actions and decisions now, then it might be time to reassess them.

Share Your Perspective

HR professionals can play a vital role in meeting the needs of organizations during times of crisis. Don’t let organizational bureaucracy prevent you from sharing your ideas and expertise around risk management and crisis response. Your message is critically important, and you have a valuable perspective that many people at your organization simply don’t have. 

Be confident in your ability to say what needs to be said to your organization’s leaders. Once you use your voice to prove your value, leaders will come to you for input on business continuity planning during future crises.

Speaking of adding value, we discovered that our cross-functional team was beneficial during times of social and political unrest, too, and we intend to continue leveraging their pooled expertise moving forward. Facilitating this team was one of HR’s most significant contributions to the business. I can see this task force’s future as cross-organizational, fast-moving thinking partners as we deal with whatever the next crisis is. We’re strong — and we’re ready.