People first: HR and learning’s role in tackling COVID-19

In the face of the escalating COVID-19 – or coronavirus – pandemic, business as usual is not an option. The extraordinary measures governments are taking are testament to that. Business leaders are turning to HR and L&D for help; the need to respond to change on the fly is critical. So how can you best support your people and mitigate business risk in face of this unprecedented challenge?

covid-19 manager advice elearning

At the heart of this crisis are people. There’s uncertainty and fear – “What if I get ill? I’m a carer, how will I cope? Will I be able to make rent? I can’t afford to stockpile! What if my kid’s school closes? Will I lose my job?”

These human and financial anxieties need to stay front of mind. In the face of a huge productivity challenge for your businesses – start with your people first.

Things are moving fast, and so should you

Government and WHO advice is updating daily. Remote working is going off the scale (for those who can). Policies are being updated and health and safety protocol has never been more important. Conferences and face-to-face meetings are being canceled. These are not normal times.

HR and L&D professionals need to be agile and on the front foot to help keep people aligned around the fast-evolving state of play.

Confront the harmful impact of fake news

A global crisis on the scale of coronavirus generates lots of media attention. Misinformation spreads faster than the virus itself, causing confusion and fear.

Providing clear and consistent communication to employees is key

  • Give easy access to up to date guidance. 

Make sure your employees know where to look for the latest guidance and information. Do you have a centralized portal that collates your company’s advice and resources on COVID-19?

As well as being easy to access, it needs to be effortless for your team to keep up to date – wherever they are.

  • Pulse check current thinking. 

Are there misconceptions bubbling away in your business that you need to confront? Get your finger on the pulse of what the fears, concerns and questions are.  Jump on any issues you spot quickly, so you can stay on the front foot before things escalate.

Using polls is a great, and simple, way to get a sense of where people’s heads are at. You can also support them in the moment based on their response, to offer an alternative view and address any misconceptions.

social polling elearning example

Mitigate against loss of productivity

Coronavirus is highly likely to have an impact on productivity. But how can you minimise this and protect your business and people for the future? Here are some suggestions:

Equip your frontline managers.

Line managers need to know how best to respond to the questions and fears of their team. And they need to do this in line with your central strategy and the latest information.

As you can’t cover every possible angle, supporting them to make good decisions on the ground is key. This is where modern elearning comes into its own. Quick diagnostic tools and scenario-based learning are both great approaches to help managers handle new and challenging situations. Don’t forget to respect their time by providing just enough information and support, when they need it.

This elearning example shows how you could communicate key policies and assess your managers ability to deal with different scenarios. Use it for inspiration.

If you’re an Elucidat customer, just ask and we’ll gift this course into your account. Use it as a template and adapt it for your needs.

In fast-evolving situations, it’s essential that digital learning content is fast and easy for your learning team to keep up to date. This is not the time to be stuck in complex, frustrating development processes.

Read our guide to a successful elearning development process – this includes links to lots of templates and resources to help you save time.

“Some of the more interesting models we have seen involve providing clear, simple language to local managers on how to deal with COVID-19 (consistent with WHO, CDC, and other health-agency guidelines) while providing autonomy to them so they feel empowered to deal with any quickly evolving situation.” – McKinsey 2020

Give your employees the tools to help themselves

Supporting your employees to stay in good health is critical to reducing the business impact of the pandemic.

Take the best and latest advice, and give it context to your workplace environment. It needs to be relevant to your audience so they take notice and make changes. Communicate clearly in a way that’s memorable and relatable. See the following two versions as an example – which do you think is most effective?

“Remember! Wash your hands thoroughly to help keep you and others safe from infection”


“Imagine you’ve just diced some extra hot jalapenos and then need to change your contact lenses. That’s how thoroughly you need to wash your hands!”

You could use polls to identify gaps in knowledge and where you need interventions. For example, you might identify that everyone knows they should wash their hands more often. But that there’s uncertainty about when and how thoroughly to hand wash, increasing the risk of exposure to your business.

Online interactive guides and diagnostics are powerful tools for supporting employees to help themselves. You can use these to personalize critical information to an individual’s context and needs.

Think global

This is a global crisis with the situation changing at different paces around the world. In your training and learning materials, don’t overlook cultural differences.

Look to offer variations for different regions to ensure it makes sense in their context. Your polls may help you to identify cultural nuances and where you may need to adapt to deliver impact. Many organizations will be producing centralized resources that can be adapted and used by regional teams.

In summary

We’ve seen some amazing examples of using digital learning to support employees in a scalable and human way – but it needs to be done right. There’s a huge opportunity to empower people to build confidence and develop skills – even in the face of unprecedented circumstances. As well as ensuring a people-centered approach to designing elearning – organizations need to get smart about how they produce it.

Here are some resources we hope will help you in this challenging time:

We want you to know that we’re here for you. If you need support or guidance to quickly design and deploy digital learning resources then our Customer Success, Support and Professional Services teams are ready. From simply gifting template courses you can adapt and use quickly, to helping you design and develop specific interventions faster – we’re on hand to help you weather this storm. Just get in touch.

Elucidat COVID-19 Statement

Elucidat is a cloud-based solution and as such, our infrastructure can be managed via the cloud. We expect absolutely no disruption of service due to COVID-19.

We have robust Business Continuity plans and we are well set up for remote working. Elucidat is a flexible working company and our entire workforce is able to work from home if required.

Our number one priority is providing continued and undisrupted service to our customers and maintaining the safety and wellbeing of our employees.