Talent Leadership During A Crisis

In recent weeks, the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has swept across the globe and caused total upheavals to global economies, employment landscapes, and our personal lives. 

It’s been a professionally challenging and emotionally draining time for talent leaders across the board. As CHRO or similarly charged talent leader, you are surrounded by various external and internal reactions. Companies around you are either slashing their workforces or finding ways around doing so.  Of course, you know your own people are watching – the news at home, company emails at work – wondering what’s in store for them in the coming weeks.


For talent leaders in some industries (e.g., communications providers, biotech, CPG, bidet manufacturers), the threat of a massive workforce reduction, employee morale plummet, and other nasty outcomes is presumably lessened. 

For countless others, it’s an entirely different story.

For them, it is the time to speak – relentlessly – in terms of the company’s strategic goals for 2020. Whether they are as yet unchanged by the coronavirus, or pivots have already been communicated to internal and external stakeholders, strategic goals are what everything comes back to right now.

Forward thinking thought leaders in people management will stay ahead of the curve by considering these questions – and coming to the next leadership discussion with answers:


Which of our strategic goals have been minimally impacted by COVID-19?
Of those remaining, which can we cut with the least amount of backlash from shareholders?
Can we avoid layoffs? Are temporary salary reductions enough? Are furloughs possible? Would our people be open to ‘creative’ wage approaches if it means safety from layoffs?
Do we need to review and refresh our succession plan for key leadership positions in case they contract the illness?
If we must cut costs by reducing payroll, which areas of the organization can be reduced with the least immediate impact on performance?
If we have to reduce payroll, how much will the reduction in ‘survivor’ morale will impact our business momentum?
Has our company-wide move to remote work meaningfully affected our performance?
What are the first 3 things we will do in each region when it’s time to re-scale?
What are the immediate and specific needs of each global office right now?

How can we facilitate intra-employee support? (e.g., dedicated channel in Slack, Teams, etc.)

What should employee communication look like for offices in countries that have 0 reported cases of the virus? Countries that are in the early stage of crisis? Countries that have aligned on and are acting on a containment plan? Countries where the rate of infection is decreasing? Should each communication be visible to staff across locations?

In the weeks to come, set a tone of stillness amid the chaos with a thoughtful plan that answers the hot questions but puts your people first.

Rhabit can help.
Need a trusted advisor to get you there? Secure a free, no strings attached I/O Crisis Consulting Session with Rhabit’s Chief Science Officer and IO Psych Ph.D., Alexander Schwall right here.

Need to quickly roll out a continuous employee feedback solution with quick polls, OKRs, ONAs, and more? Schedule your product tour with Rhabit today.