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Mobilizing for COVID-19: Reskilling a Workforce

Apr 20, 2020 9:00:00 AM

in COVID-19



Despite a deluge of negative news surrounding COVID-19, there are a number of positive stories emerging about companies redirecting their workforce towards helping out. According to a recent press release, almost 5,000 different companies have reached out to the Canadian Federal Government, looking to help produce protective equipment for the fight against COVID-19.

Reskilling can be a matter of moving people from one role into another, instead of costly layoffs and retraining once business returns to normal. There is an opportunity for businesses to leverage their current workforce for real social good, but the right structures need to be in place for that to happen. It requires a robust HR response, and we have some tips to get you started.

Get Plugged In

The first step is knowing where to direct your work. Contact local or national governments to ask about shortages. If your company has a supply chain or specialty that can be leveraged, then focus on your strengths. For instance, car manufacturer Tesla recently tasked their team with manufacturing ventilators using car parts. While not every team has the engineering acumen for such a complex manufacturing process, there are a myriad of other ways for larger enterprises to reskill their workforce to help with relief efforts.

For a number of breweries, including Labatt's Vancouver, the answer is making hand sanitizer. Additionally, Canadian sports equipment manufacturer CCM has switched gears to manufacturing surgical masks for front-line healthcare workers. For other companies involved in textiles, there are personal protective equipment (PPE) items that could be manufactured for medical professionals. Reach out to hospitals to inquire about specific or localized shortages.

Establish Which Roles are Critical

Before you retask your workforce, establish which roles are critical to the ongoing operation of the company. There's no point in redirecting your workforce if it means the company can no longer function effectively. Make sure that critical roles are protected and begin by transferring roles that would already be impacted by the ongoing crisis.

Create Video Training

In order to minimize social contact, even as you are looking to make a difference, video training solutions will be an important tool. The right video-creation tool will enable you to create a polished product with minimal time spent reskilling existing employees. Whether you are training employees in manufacturing processes or in one of the many jobs that this crisis necessitates, less contact will be better.

HR Infrastructure

While reskilling a large workforce presents a significant HR challenge, with the right infrastructure in place, your organization will be able to rapidly adapt with better data and reporting, plus more streamlined processes and communications, to name a few benefits. TPD has had experience in mobilizing large numbers of people, most notably providing rapid support for floods in Calgary and fires in Fort McMurray, and critical infrastructure pieces that TPD can assist with are an HRIS and employee policies.

If your company has a workforce that is facing layoffs but could be leveraged to help out in this crisis, do not hesitate to reach out to the qualified experts at TPD. You can reach us here, through email at covid19support@tpd.com, or by phone at 1.844.873.4745. For additional HR resources, visit our COVID-19 HR Support Centre.



Filed under COVID-19

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