Acknowledging the crucial role of people professionals during COVID-19 #HRtogether

Based in Northern Ireland, Dylan Loughlin is Director at Copacetic Business Solutions

Copacetic Business Solutions is based out of the Crumlin Road Gaol visitor centre, next to the Mater hospital. Like many organisations, COVID-19 has forced us to close and implement home working for all staff. We were monitoring the situation closely for some time but the decision was made for us when we were informed that the visitor centre might be used in the fight against coronavirus; as a testing centre and for healthcare staff parking.

At that time in early March, the severity of what was happening really settled in and we doubled our preparation efforts. During the first few weeks I would spend most of my days on the phone providing advice to clients about the various Human Resource Issues which COVID-19 was presenting. Then at night, I would spend hours studying the latest government advice to prepare for the next day.

Responding to new challenges

It was a stressful time at the beginning, but our team was committed to alleviating some of that stress for our clients. As a small consultancy business that provides tailored advice, we have worked very closely with our clients over the years and are truly vested in their success. This was reflected in the effort going in from my team who went above and beyond for weeks without having to be asked twice. I would really like to thank them for all their hard work over the duration of this pandemic.

We found that politicians would introduce mitigating measures and financial schemes on the TV, but then the actual parameters of how to avail of these schemes were quite difficult to ascertain. In response, we decided to put together a comprehensive handbook to guide our clients and allow them to start future planning, while continuing to meet their changing employment law obligations. I’m proud of how our staff were able to produce this "coping with coronavirus guide", which offers additional and more diverse advice than we would normally offer.

Prioritising health and wellbeing

As we worked hard to safeguard workers and businesses across various industries, it was important to me to look after my own staff who were under increasing pressure. In our office, the four us are all foodies so I introduced a mid-week check in where we will have a quick video call to have a cup of tea and see who’s baked goods look the best. It’s normally Carrie, who is our Trainee HR Consultant and who does these great veggie sausage rolls! I still think my Kinder Bueno Cheesecake is a contender...

We’ve also put together a series of online wellness classes which kicks off today with our beginner Yoga class led by Eimear at Tula Yoga. We have invited all our staff and clients to take part in this simple practice which will concentrate on meditation and some basic stretches. The 'Zoom' link is available on our social media if anybody would like to get involved!

Other events we have coming up include “A Copacetic Cocktail Masterclass” and “Cooking with Copacetic”, where Institute of Hospitality Chef of the Year Daniel Harvey will be showing us how to make a Thai Red Curry live.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been dreadful for both people and business, and my heart goes out to all those personally effected. It’s been so difficult at times, but one thing I have enjoyed seeing are all the amazing community initiatives and acts of solidarity with frontline workers.

I would like to recognise some unsung heroes, and that is all the human resource professionals out there. You have all been working hard to ensure people get access to the furlough scheme, to implement home working, keeping frontline workers safe and ultimately to ensure that people have jobs to return to when the time comes. So well done to you all, and Happy International HR Day.

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