A Year On: COVID–19 and its impact on the workplace and the HR professional


Barely a year ago, many discussions on the future of work focused on technology and the role that automation is predicted to have on jobs and the workplace. However, when many complex forces are at play, linear predictions are too simplistic, hence the intrusion of the COVID – 19 pandemic.

First reported in Wuhan, China on December 31, 2019, the COVID – 19 pandemic soon swept through the globe like a harmattan bush fire and by March 12, 2020 hit the shores of Ghana, with two reported cases. Such was its threat that, within a short time, His Excellency the President began to “Come to our homes” as he put it in his regular Presidential addresses. In one of his maiden “visits,” the Presidential directives were issued and on March 21, 2021, a Presidential assent was secured for the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012).

Thus, Ghanaian Companies in their quest to comply with the Presidential directives on the COVID-19 measures, turned their attention to their HR Leaders to come out with innovative people – centric solutions.

Accordingly, in this brief, as the body corporate of HR Practitioners who work in both the public and private sectors of the Ghanaian economy since 1981, and one mandated to regulate the practice of human resource management and to provide for related matters, the Chartered Institute of Human Resource Management (CIHRM), Ghana takes a retrospective glance of the Ghanaian HR space of the year under review.

Impact of COVID – 19 on the Workplace and HR

Following the outbreak of the novel COVID -19 pandemic in Ghana, and the globe in general, a cloud of uncertainties hung with pockets of fear, anxiety and insecurity in the country and especially among organizations and their employees. The outbreak was stress-testing our resolve and our resilience.

This situation placed a lot of pressure on HR Practitioners and in the process confronted most with challenges such as how to:

  1. Maintain business operations that ensured business continuity
  2. Get a consistent flow of information and updates out to employees
  3. Maintain employee engagement levels and trust with the leadership teams
  4. Act as a trusted advisor to management in the times of the crisis
  5. Maintain relevant work regulations and practical rules during the pandemic outbreak
  6. Predict the future workforce needs in response to the evolving economic landscape
  7. Manage with inadequate resources to aid the control and prevention of the outbreak within the workplace
  8. Measure and improve the work efficiency of remote workers

Stemming the COVID-19 Impact on the Workplace

Thus, as part of measures to help HR Managers stay stable and resilient in assisting their organizations mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-91 pandemic on their operations, the Chartered Institute of Human Resource Management (CIHRM), Ghana called on its members and HR Managers in general to consider facilitating a review of their HR policies and procedures and their working arrangement. To comply with physical distancing directives, the CIHRM also proposed the institution of Flexi-Working alternatives including Working From Home (WFH), Remote Working or Teleworking arrangements.

The recommendations further appealed to organizations whose revenue streams had been adversely impacted by the COVID – 19 pandemic to consider among others deferring or delaying the annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and merit salary increment. However, it added that such deferred payment should be done in good faith, one based on facts and figures communicated in a transparent manner.

This call, contained in an 8 – point actionable tips or guidelines urged HR Managers and Corporate leaders to as a matter of urgency advert their attention to the following:

  1. Workforce Management
  • Facilitate a review of current working arrangements and human resource policies and procedures to accelerate the institution of Flexi – Working, Working From Home (WFH), reduce working hours, remote working or teleworking arrangements as well as explore to select and invest in fit-for-purpose cost-effective technical support systems.
  • Delay new hires, decrease in outsourcing contractors and carry out job sharing arrangements.
  1. Awareness Creation
  • Increase regular communication to bring to the awareness of staff and clients on safety assurances based on adequate COVID – 19 preventive measures and precautions being employed.
  1. Institute Counselling Services for HR Practitioners
  • Consider the need of engaging the services of Occupational Psychologists to provide occupational therapeutic and counselling services to help employees navigate through the phases of fear and panic.
  1. Reduction of Employee-Clients Interactions
  • Evaluate personnel/employee – customer ratio to the barest minimum to minimize interactions between employees and clients.
  • Identify high traffic areas of the work settings where there’s regular contact of personnel or personnel with clients contact and increase frequency of disinfection and cleaning of such areas.
  1. Staff Training
  • Where applicable, provide relevant training and retraining of critical employees in the use of Public Health Authorities recommended personnel protective equipment to ensure correct usage.
  • Upskill staff training in digital technology
  1. Benefits/Leave Management
  • Review and adjust HR policies and procedures with regard to leave, sick leave policies to be flexible and consistent with the current public health demands.
  • Consider active leave management – voluntary and involuntary leave as well as early retirement options without penalty.
  • Consider self-isolation under the present circumstance as either paid leave, sick leave or compassionate leave.
  • Consider requesting staff whose services may not be required during lock down period to take their leave during this period. However, the employer would need to notify the employee(s) in advance that the absence from work will be deemed as leave or that some number of days of absence will be deemed as leave.
  • Consider negotiating with employees on the variation of the remuneration under the existing employment contract, such as paying lesser salary for such period, where the lock down period exceeds an employee’s leave entitlement.
  1. Salary/Incentives

Organisations that may experience a period of drastic reduction in revenue inflows (i.e. cash flow has been adversely affected by COVID-19) and/or where organizations have been operating largely with loans/overdraft may have to:

  • Consider deferring or delaying annual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) and merit salary increment
  • Consider annual bonus reduction options, deferring or delaying.

Note: These decisions should be based on facts and figures and transparent communication.


For further clarification or any other assistance, the Institute added help line contact.


As the situation begin to ease from the initial impact of the pandemic on the workplace, the Chartered Institute of Human Resource Management wishes to remind Organizations and HR Professionals that the future of HR is here with us. Thus, during this period and hopefully post COVID – 19, we further recommend that Managers of HR at the workplaces consider the following:

  • Redefine obsolete HR Policies and models
  • Stop focusing on outmoded HR methods of delivery
  • Review HR philosophies, practices and systems

Above all, HR Managers should avoid playing the corporate games by the sidelines and rather focus on our unique position of guiding business leaders on the future of work.

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