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Memphis CEO shares how HR departments are dealing with the effects of COVID

“They think the company is taking a political stance, when the company, all they're trying to do is stay legal,” said PerformancePoint CEO Brad Federman.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With all the changes in policies and in the workplace due to COVID, Human Resources departments have their work cut out for them.

For many working in Human Resources, the workplace does not feel normal anymore.

“We are running trauma centers,” said PerformancePoint CEO Brad Federman.

Federman is also the President-elect of the Memphis Chapter of the Society for Human Resources Management.

He called these times, “three years of history,” all in one.

“1918, we had the Spanish flu, right? So, you've been through a pandemic. 1929, you had the Great Depression. We have been through an economic collapse in a lot of ways,” said Federman. “1968, racial strife. I don't know of any year in our history where we have dealt with all of that the same time, except for in the last year and a half.”

It's taking a toll on the workplace.

“In the midst of a pandemic, like this, you've had people working 50-70 hours a week, and they're getting burnout,” said Federman. “There's a push to staff-.up. We need more people, but you have a shortage of employees.”

For a field built on employee engagement, HR professionals are struggling.

“People who are working have lost family members,” said Federman. “As a society, we're seeing a breakdown. You're starting to see those kinds of behaviors, infiltrate organizations, texts, and messaging becoming sarcastic, caustic, rude. HR has to be responsible for trying to maintain some level of civility in the workplace, when we're losing that civility and the anxieties taking over, everywhere else around them.”

They're also having to change policies in order to address COVID.

“When do we bring people back? If we do bring them back, what does the office look like,” asked Federman. “They think the company is taking a political stance, when the company, all they're trying to do is stay legal. They're trying to follow regulation.”

It's a challenge with a long fight ahead.

On the bright side, Federman said this has brought more people into the HR field.

“All of a sudden HR is there at the center. They are now at the table because you can't get through this without HR playing a strategic role. For the longest time, HR wanted to be at the table. They wanted to be in the C suite. They wanted to be treated with a certain kind of respect," said Federman. "It's stressful, but long term, it's a real attraction to the field."

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