Last month, I wrote about what it’s been like to work in a hospital during the time of COVID-19. What’s changed since then? I’d say quite a lot. The question really is, of all that has changed, what will stick? Basic change management principles tell us that when we make changes, we “unfreeze” and then “refreeze” after changes have been completed. This basic principle is very simplistic. Once reality sets in, we soon realize refreezing may not be possible depending on the scale and speed of changes.
From my perspective, there are two major changes that have rocked all our words, COVID-19 and the senseless death of George Floyd. When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit us, it was all-consuming, especially working in a hospital. As we’ve seen testing rates increase, hospital rates decrease, and the number of new cases decrease in the past several weeks, I’ve seen a sense of calm and relief creeping back in the people I work with. While some feel the storm may appear to be over, I assure you, few of us are letting our guards down. Proper PPE is still being worn, temperatures are still being taken daily, and yes, people are still dying.
Personally, my role in the hospital still focuses on employees who have been furloughed, quarantined, or redeployed. Slowly, as hospital census is rising, surgeries are back in motion and outpatient services are reopening, the tracking of staff movement becomes important. It’s been a balancing act of epic proportions to plan our workforce needs. In the world of COVID-19, will temperature checking be required of us for the foreseeable future? While this is required, resource planning becomes more challenging as we prepare for delivering needed healthcare services for the communities in which we serve.
While the intensity of COVID-19 may have diminished, the social conscious of America has been awakened. On May 25th, the senseless death of George Floyd occurred in Minneapolis by a white police officer. This death has triggered demonstrators and protests in over 2,000 US cities and around the world against police brutality, police racism, and lack of police accountability. While we’ve seen these demonstrations and protests before in the recent past, these feel different; businesses are reacting in ways never seen before: Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben’s, Mrs. Butterworth, and Eskimo Pie have announced that they will retire their brand images since they were founded in racial stereotypes. NASCAR has banned the confederate flag. Many corporations and organizations have issued statements reaffirming their respective stance against racism, bigotry, and violence.
Juneteenth was commemorated last week. For the first time we’ve seen many organizations acknowledge this historic day. We’ve been encouraging our employees to tell their stories and share their experiences, both personal and professional. We’ve encouraged our employees to participate in tough and courageous conversations about race. Listening, engaging in active dialogue allows us all to understand and learn. This has been truly rewarding, and a unique opportunity for us to shape the future of our work in the areas of inclusion and diversity.
It’s an unusual time. It is extraordinary that a global pandemic and public outcry for justice and equality occur at the same time. Both have had a profound impact; both have caused us to forcibly unfreeze our normal. No one really does know what will stick, but what we do know is some things will refreeze in ways we’ve never seen or imagined before.
- Richard Finger has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years and has worked with small, private organizations, global corporations, and most currently, a healthcare organization. Richard has worked abroad a number of years in England as well as The Netherlands, where he acquired a great appreciation for cultural awareness. He currently holds three Human Resource Certifications (SHRM-SCP, SPHR, SPHRi), and is also teaching the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP preparation course at Howard County Community College. Richard earned his Bachelor Degree in Psychology at University of Central Florida, and Master Degree in Human Resources Management & Labor Relations at New York Institute of Technology. Richard has been writing for Baltimore Outloud for a number of years, contributing articles about his Human Resources experiences, as well as moonlighting as the author of Finger's Food restaurant reviews. Richard has enjoyed writing for the paper, and looks forward to many more opportunities to do so.