From the President: HR Heroes
Six weeks ago, Hawaii was dramatically turned upside down, inside out by a series of announcements by the Governor and County Mayors ordering sheltering in place would be instituted in the hopes of slowing the spread of Covid 19. The consequence of these declarations led to essentially shutting the state down, practically overnight. The Hawaii workforce was designated essential or non-essential. Non-essential businesses were shuttered, their employees were furloughed or terminated permanently. Even business deemed to be essential had to make manpower adjustments. Unemployment reached an historic high, people were thrown into an uncharted churning environment, which still persists today. Covid-19 continues to weigh heavy on everyday life with no real end in sight, only glimpses of a faint light at the end of the tunnel gives most of us hope to return to the life we all had just a few weeks ago.
Certainly, this description of the last few weeks is no surprise to anyone. However, throughout these challenging weeks at the center of this turmoil stood an ensemble of unwavering HR professionals. As well-deserved praise and honor was being bestowed to health care workers, first responders, food service providers and volunteers, the HR professionals have been quietly working tirelessly and unselfishly to keep their organizations functioning. Those outside of the profession may not be aware of the tremendous physical and emotional toll that has been exacted on each HR professional during this period. New policies needed to be created, new laws had to be interpreted and implemented, adjusting the workforce to meet financial limitations certainly brought many professionals to their knees as they guided decisions regarding who would be furloughed or terminated, this is never easy but to do so in mass and in such a short window led to sleepless nights and highly charged emotional days. The conditions of these past days and certainly the days to come will haunt all HR professionals at all levels. This month SHRM published an article written by Roy Maurer on the important topic of “Dealing with the 5 Stages of Career Grief During Covid-19”. It is thought-provoking reading as some of us may feel the strain of the moment and this article provides helpful insights to coping.
I taught my first college course in Human Resource Management in the Spring of 2007. While preparing for my first lecture I discovered a simple yet powerful description of why Human Resource Management is important. That description was “It is the glue that holds the resources of an organization in place and functioning”. For the last twenty-six semesters I have started the first HR class of that semester with this description. You are without doubt the glue that steadfastly hold people, processes and culture of your organization together in the pursuit of success even in the challenging climate we all face today. Working with passion and empathy while dealing with the realities of both your professional and personal lives must be recognized and applauded.
We the SHRM Hawaii Board sincerely thank you and rousingly applaud you, our members for your unbreakable dedication and personal sacrifice demonstrating your commitment towards executing the duties of our profession. Proving again and again how valuable you are as an HR Professional to your organization as well as the State of Hawaii. As the weeks unfold towards phased opening of the state, we wish you great success and above all stay healthy, stay safe.
2020 SHRM Hawaii President