BUSINESSES looking to change and adapt in order to cope with the impact of Covid-19 should not be held hostage by historical HR practices, says a local expert.

SMEs doing their best to cope with the impact of Covid-19 may be held back in the attempts to reposition their products, services or people, because their current HR policies, procedures and practices lack the flexibility needed to support rapid change.

Michael Doolin, Managing Director of Clover HR, says the HR function must be seen as agents of change and play a pivotal role if businesses are to emerge stronger.

He said: “The Covid-19 coronavirus is becoming the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations in generations.

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"How we work, exercise, shop, learn, communicate, and of course, where we work, will be changed forever.

"SMEs need to adapt, and change quickly to stay on top of this curve. And to do this effectively, they need the right tools, people, processes and support in place."

As well as the changes to products and services that have seen many businesses ‘pivot’ in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many must also review their existing employment contracts in order to implement the necessary flexibility to welcome back a workforce and keep it safe according to Mr Doolin.

He added: "Change is inevitable, so businesses need the structures in place to enable this to happen efficiently. These are yet more changes that SMEs in particular need to consider.

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"Put simply, do they have the appropriate terms and conditions in their employment contracts to enable their workforce to work in a way that is both productive and safe?"

To deal with a future that is far from certain, Clover HR is working with local businesses from Worcestershire, Birmingham and across the West Midlands to understand an organisation’s ability to deal with ongoing uncertainty and change.

Mr Doolin said he feels the HR function will be as key as finance department in steering businesses to safety as we emerge from this crisis.

He said: "HR should understand where a business wants to go, or needs to go, and therefore what needs to happen in order to create a roadmap to get there."