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Monday, December 4, 2023

HR practice and the pandemic: Insights on people for people

“What a time to be in HR!”

I was often greeted with that remark by colleagues and friends who know of my human resource management practice at the height of the pandemic. Having witnessed this first-hand in their own organizations, they were aware of how daunting it was to be in HR under such turbulent and precarious circumstances.

Oh, what a time indeed! I therefore cannot help being pensive as I recall the colossal breadth and depth of taking care of people in organizations during what could have been the biggest crisis of our lifetimes. I hope I can be allowed to put HR practitioners in the same gallant league of medical and health care workers, first responders, teachers and all essential service personnel who ensured that our way of life carried on.

In their own right, HR professionals have also emerged to be heroes on the ground. With the absence of a blueprint to navigate the workplace under a pandemic, they persisted to guide people and companies through volatility. Most importantly, they worked hard for the safety and protection of employees specifically through the implementation of testing, treatment and vaccination.

My fellow HR practitioners may agree with me about those times when we were tested to the limit and pushed to the wall. I know that they would agree with me when I say that when we did our jobs and did them well, we helped other employees perform their jobs and preserve their livelihoods despite the struggle and the blur.

That is why I am taking this opportunity to pay tribute to all HR practitioners who soldiered on with their selflessness and commitment so that their organizations and people could keep running. At the same time, gratitude should be conveyed to organizational leaders and senior management whose support was instrumental for HR to put people’s welfare front and center.

As HR suddenly became an ‘all-important’ and the ‘most essential’ unit of every company, HR managers and practitioners must not only bask in the renewed significance of their roles, but also realize insights and uphold lessons on people management. I was recently asked by a chief HR officer what one thing I would like to change about HR, in light of the pandemic.

It goes without saying that the terrain has already changed. I would like to reframe the question instead as “What would I like HR to continue doing amid the changing landscape?” My answer is that HR must remain a champion of clarity against obscurity, consistency over disparity and compassion above adversity. Ultimately, HR should continue to advocate people’s well-being and embrace their evolving needs while balancing the goals of their organization.

Michael Angelo ‘Mike’ Malicsi is Head of People Experience and HR Business Partner at Goldilocks. He is a part-time lecturer at the Department of Management and Organization, Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business, De La Salle University, where he teaches strategic human resource management and organizational communication. He is an Australia Awards alumnus and a graduate of Monash University in Melbourne. Mike is the founding convenor of Australia Alumni Communities Philippines, a network of Australia-educated Filipinos. He can be contacted at

The views expressed above are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official position of DLSU, its faculty, and its administrators.

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