“Under adverse conditions, the health officials of American communities are now grappling with an epidemic that they do not understand very well.” That sounds like a recent news headline, but in reality, it was from “The Spanish Influenza,” published in the New York Times on Oct. 7, 1918. In that pandemic, 50 million people died worldwide, including about 675,000 in the United States.
If history repeats itself, we could say the same thing about our present day, as we face an unprecedented pandemic, unfamiliar to us all and rife with uncertainty, prompting employers to struggle to understand where we are and what the road ahead looks like.
To gain a better grasp of how we are working, and how our workforce will work in the months to come, we assembled a panel of experts and posed a series of questions related to COVID-19, including how it’s affecting our workforces and could impact employers’ ability to sustain workers in a fallen economy.
To gain perspective on COVID-19, we assembled a diverse panel of thought leaders. They are geographically diverse, have different job functions and responsibilities, but one commonality: an investment in human resources. Their insight includes legal, tools, human resource corporate leadership, and HR consulting. They are:
- Karen Oakey, director of human resources, Fracture. Fracture is an online-based photo-finishing service headquartered in Alachua, Fla.
- Jill Popelka, president, SAP SuccessFactors. SAP SuccessFactors provides cloud-based software for human capital management. and is headquartered in South San Francisco, Calif. Popelka is based in Dallas.
- Kris Meade, labor and employment group chair and partner at Crowell & Moring. Crowell & Moring is an international law firm headquartered in Washington, D.C.
- Kara Hamilton, chief people and culture officer, Smartsheet. Smartsheet is a collaborative work management platform based in Bellevue, Wash.
- Bhushan Sethi, joint global people and organization leader, PwC. PwC is a multinational professional-services network headquartered in London. Sethi is in New York.
- Mary Mathews, director of human resources and business operations, Keyfactor. Keyfactor is an IT technology-services firm, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio.