Seeing organizations in crisis, one HR tech company built a support platform and offered it for free
Robert Bromage was checking in with a prospective client in the States on the 17h of March, when it became clear that the coronavirus outbreak was going to slam a wrecking ball through the global economy. When he asked how she was doing, she was just beside herself and very distressed.
She explained to Bromage, the CEO of the HR-tech platform intelliHR, that her company was losing millions every day. Their teams could simply not even go to work as all their projects were shut down. They may be forced to make hard, deep cuts to their employees, and they had no idea what the future would look like. He asked her, simply, what can I do to help?
That prospective client hadn’t signed a contract, but he knew she needed his platform, a tool that could help manage a seismic workplace transition, help coordinate the short-term changes, reassure employees and maintain wellness in the medium-term, and lay the groundwork for a long-term recovery where those workers who had to be laid off will come back into the office. After a very quick call with Glenn Donaldson, Chief Customer Officer about what intelliHR was already doing for existing customers, they decided to take all those features and build out a platform that employers could use, for free.
Compressing three weeks of work into three days, the intelliHR team built out their Covid-19 essentials HR platform and began offering it to organizations, free of charge. Bromage told HRDC why in a time of crisis, organizations need to step up their HR support networks through platforms like his.
“This version of our software that looks after everything that people need to support their businesses, in particular non-digital businesses, through Covid-19,” Bromage told HRDC. “That involves processes around working from home in different conditions, processes to capture performance and productivity information that the business and team members need to know. But most importantly, it’s a tool to take care of employee wellness and encourage communication.”
As organizations begin to settle from the immediate shocks of this outbreak, cutting staff and closing offices, Bromage thinks the next great challenge will come in maintaining the wellness of employees. Where before, leaders could look around the office and see who might be having a down day, now teams are remote, isolated in their homes, and removed from the non-verbal communication that makes up so much of how we understand each other. On top of that, employees are nervous. They’ve had partners, friends, and coworkers lose their jobs in this crisis. They’re afraid for their own positions.
“Right now, no one can see anything,” Bromage said. “If you're a leader and someone is a bit down at the office you can say, ‘let's go grab a coffee or have a chat about that.’ Now we are in isolation. People that used to rely on their teammates are alone now.”
intelliHR’s predictive sentiment tool works to replace that office rapport and support nervous staff. It explores the sentiment of all communication in the intellIHR platform, reading the language and even emojis that employees are sending to one another to understand how everyone is feeling. Coupled with regular check-ins and “how’s it going” pulse checks, that tool will allow leaders to triage their employees and offer attention and support where it’s needed most so that the team keeps operating as best it can.
Bromage also stressed that this crisis is not like 2008, where the economy was fundamentally unsound. Rather, it’s a public health crisis that’s necessitated a slamming of the brakes on the global economy. Once we get over the peak of this outbreak and businesses begin to function in a close to normal way again, they’ll need to bring back many of the people they laid off. The intelliHR Covid-19 response platform is designed to maintain connections between those laid off employees and their organization. It sets the stage for a long-term recovery.
At bottom, Bromage and the intelliHR team want to help their communities get through this.
“The work we're doing on the Covid side is out of genuine care for our community,” Bromage said. “We’ve got tools that can help people and people that don't know these tools exist.
“There are three phases here that businesses need to get through. There’s the initial shock and ‘what are we going to do?’ response. That results in changing work arrangements. The second thing that people have got to turn their attention to very quickly is the health and wellness of the workforce, including the ones that they've had to let go. The third thing then is preparing the business to actually come out of this and how they're going to, to re-mobilize the workforce and re-engage them as well. Ultimately, the ones that look after their people best and focus on protecting their culture through the tough times ahead, will be the ones that do best afterwards.”