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The strategic role of human resources management in facing crises “Covid 19”

Different perspectives exist regarding the danger of the coronavirus known as ‘COVID-19.’ Some see it as a political threat, while others view it as a threat to the global economy. The vast majority sees it as a threat to humanity in general. Yes, it is a threat to civilization as a whole. We see economic giants rendered helpless, fighter jets and naval ships standing still, and everything that has been invented appearing powerless in the face of the specter of this grave threa

In the year 2007, the movie ‘I Am Legend’ was produced, starring actor Will Smith. This film depicts strange events that occur in a world where a dangerous virus spreads, transforming humans into a kind of undead creatures who cannot survive during daylight hours and emerge only at night. We see the protagonist of this film desperately trying to find a cure to save humanity from extinction, highlighting the anxiety, stress, and fear he experiences in his quest for survival and obtaining the basic necessities of life. On the other hand, his intense desire to find a cure for this virus eventually leads us to the heartwarming discovery that he sacrifices his own personal life in exchange for it.

How much we need a hero like this today, yet this hero is a fictional character, and the events of this movie are purely imaginary. This film does not exist in reality, and this hero exists only in the author’s book pages. Today, we are in great need of such a legendary hero.

Returning to this threat, countries are vying to assert their political power by providing aid to nations severely affected by this global pandemic. Despite these countries’ desperate need for assistance, the desire to dominate the world and impose political sovereignty remains a fundamental concern. It’s as if we will live with this issue for a lifetime, and this virus presented an unparalleled opportunity to exert unprecedented control.

As for those who possess hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars, they believe they are safe from this virus as long as they can secure the basic necessities of life. It’s as if we’ve reached ground zero on Maslow’s hierarchy, where those who have the means are the winners. The saying of the Prophet Muhammad holds true during this crisis: ‘Whoever goes to bed safe in his dwelling, with a healthy body, and has his daily sustenance, it is as if the whole world has been gathered for him.’ In the midst of this crisis, they strive to increase their economic influence and wealth at the expense of others who are struggling significantly to secure their livelihoods. These individuals, along with their dependents, are on the brink of survival and job security, waiting for a helping hand to rescue them from the unprecedented crisis.

And the discussion here is about the losers in the face of this pandemic. Who are the losers in this pandemic: politicians, economists, the wealthy? Politicians, economists, and the wealthy make up no more than 5% of the world’s population. What about the remaining 95%? Yes, this majority that looks up to the sky every night, wondering what we will do and how we will overcome this pandemic. How will we fill the empty stomachs that depend on us so greatly? Some turn to God Almighty in supplication, following the guidance of our noble Prophet. Others seek solace in the deity they worship, while some remain lost, unsure of where to turn.

The crisis is not a financial, economic, or even a medical crisis. Yes, it’s a virus that requires treatment to save the world, not just a specific country or region. However, the crisis is a moral one. How so? A moral crisis? Yes, let’s take our beloved country, Jordan, as an example. The government has implemented a series of measures to protect our nation from this pandemic, including laws aimed at protecting citizens and the economy alike. But how we deal with this crisis depends on the health and purity of our morals. I’m talking about the majority of the working class.

Yesterday, a friend of mine called me to ask for advice on terminating the services of employees to cut down on company expenses. Unfortunately, as is often the case, the human resources department is the first to be cut when reducing costs. This places the burden on the Jordanian government to deal with these individuals and find effective solutions to ensure their livelihoods.

My friend, as the head of the HR department, could have offered many solutions before resorting to terminating the employment of those workers. However, he chose to safeguard his own job instead of letting go of many working hands, considering them expendable and replaceable once the crisis is over. Do you know why we are facing a moral crisis and not just a medical one or any other?

This virus has not been able to kill a quarter of the people who have died in Syria, for example, or equal the number of people killed in traffic accidents. Yes, there are many deadly viruses that we see and don’t try to find the reasons for. They don’t concern us or affect our daily lives, and we continue as if nothing has happened. As the poet Mahmoud Darwish said, ‘The dead are just sleeping people.’ They are nothing more than statistics or numbers that pass us by.

It may seem that this introduction has no relevance to human resource management, and that this is just a reflection or thoughts to fill idle time. However, I would argue that the solution to this crisis lies solely in proper human resource management practices, whether at the level of companies and small organizations or at the level of nations as very large organizations.

What distinguishes human resource management as a field is its adaptability to every time and place. It responds to urgent circumstances that call for human minds with good intentions to solve human problems. These solutions start from the core of small businesses and extend to the highest-level organizations. I believe in the idea that peaceful management of individual organizations will collectively lead to a comprehensive solution that makes it easier for everyone to overcome this crisis, which has touched the hearts of all people residing on this planet.

What can the human resources department offer during this crisis? The roles and responsibilities of the human resources department are diverse, and this crisis presents an opportunity for HR professionals to apply the concepts they have acquired through their work experience, using the knowledge and skills gained in practice to effectively address the challenges at hand.


Recruitment is one of the fundamental functions of the Human Resources department, and it integrates with other HR functions to form a comprehensive unit aimed at providing the best services to organizations and their employees.

Recruitment is defined as the procedures used to provide the company with employees from both internal and external sources through a series of recruitment and selection processes that ultimately aim to identify the best candidate for the vacant position.

Usually, companies establish a set of policies and procedures for each aspect of recruitment: sourcing, selection, and hiring. These policies provide a framework for HR professionals, whether from within the HR department or outside, to follow.

Under normal circumstances, the recruitment process is executed smoothly and includes the following steps:

  1. Preparing the annual workforce plan, which outlines the required numbers for each job in the organizational structure.
  2. Preparing the HR budget, which outlines the expected costs for all current and potential employees, to create the company’s overall budget.
  3. Integrating succession and career path plans into the annual workforce plan, considering leadership roles that may be filled in the coming period.
  4. In addition to succession planning, incorporating annual promotion plans, where a group of potential employees is nominated for promotion, subject to higher vacancies in the organizational structure.
  5. Linking workforce plans to training and development plans and vice versa, reflecting them on job description cards.
  6. Taking necessary precautions to cover expected turnover, typically by reserving at least 5-8% of the total number of employees in the company (taking into account expected new hires). This number is added to the total numbers expected in the annual workforce plan.
  7. Making necessary adjustments to job descriptions that define the type of candidates or employees required to fill available positions, according to the approved organizational structure. Job description cards are usually updated every two years to ensure coverage of all job-related aspects and requirements.
  8. Identifying potential sources to provide the necessary numbers for selection, whether from internal or external sources.
  9. Finally, the workforce plan is approved according to the approved competency matrix by the competent authority in the organization.

These are the normal conditions for preparing workforce plans. However, what impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on these plans?

The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Workforce Plans

Simply put, there have been two approaches followed by many organizations during this crisis, as follows:

  1. The approach of utilizing the pandemic to efficiently and effectively implement workforce plans.
  2. The approach of utilizing the pandemic to efficiently and effectively reduce labor costs.

The following explains each of these approaches:

Approach One: Utilizing the Pandemic to Efficiently and Effectively Implement Workforce Plans

Many organizations, even those operating in the Jordanian market, have taken advantage of the pandemic to work on implementing workforce plans efficiently and effectively. They recognized that many other organizations operating in the same market would not be able to bear the burdens of this pandemic, leading to the availability of a large pool of qualified candidates due to rising unemployment rates. These organizations proactively recruited competent candidates at moderate wages, without the need for excessive salary adjustments (the impact of the coronavirus on salaries and allowances will be discussed in a separate document).

The measures taken included:

  1. Modifying all recruitment sources to exclusively rely on external sources, without resorting to internal labor to fill available vacancies.
  2. Adjusting job description cards to raise the competence level of potential candidates for the organization, given the abundance of available competencies in the Jordanian labor market.
  3. Renewing the contracts of current employees whose employment contracts were expiring during the pandemic for short periods in order to replace them with competent labor, without affecting the total required headcount.
  4. Dismissing surplus employees or those with average performance and including them in replacement plans. (Replacing medium performers with high-performing candidates).
  5. Implementing new selection methods among potential candidates and not relying solely on traditional methods. A competency demonstration approach was adopted before hiring, where candidates were required to:

    a. Present a project, plan, or comprehensive strategy for the expected job, along with identifying the expected results to be achieved within the first three months of employment (this approach was implemented for administrative positions only). b. Conduct a series of professional competitions (the types of competitions vary based on the organization’s nature of activity) to select the most qualified candidate. c. Include candidates in an internal training program. During the program, candidates were monitored, and those expected to have outstanding performance were selected. d. Finally, selected candidates were required to sign fixed-term contracts, lasting no less than three years, to ensure their continued presence in the organization for as long as possible. This was done without any need to make adjustments to the salary scale and grades.

With these measures in place, the organization replaced medium or underperforming employees with competent labor and hired candidates with high qualifications, given their availability in the labor market.

The Second Approach: Leveraging the Pandemic to Reduce Labor Costs Efficiently and Effectively

Conversely, many organizations took advantage of the pandemic to terminate contracts with all employees with medium or lower performance and relied primarily on high-performing employees to cover the labor shortage. They primarily relied on their understanding that there was a threat to their jobs. Thus, they exploited the pandemic excessively to benefit the organization.

However, the only threat to this approach was organizations that followed the first approach by attracting competent labor from the Jordanian labor market, whether they were unemployed or willing to leave their organizations due to mismanagement during the pandemic.

Finally, the implementation of either of these approaches relies heavily on the competence and professionalism of the individuals working in the Human Resources department to achieve the organization’s specific interests.

This paper addressed the impact of the pandemic on organizations without considering the need to take into account the human aspect. It summarized some of the actions taken by organizations in the Jordanian market without any ethical or professional considerations. Their main driving force was how to exploit the pandemic to achieve the organization’s long-term goals, even though they were aware of the costs associated with such actions.

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