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6 great people-focused HR initiatives during COVID-19

After what has been a reasonably downcast 6 months, we thought we would take a moment to celebrate some of the organizations doing great things for their employees during the pandemic.

From clever digital resources for busy parents to financial supplements and extended benefits, here are our picks for the 6 best initiatives HR departments the world over have implemented during COVID-19 to support their employees.

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 1. Bank of Ireland

Built a bespoke mental health app with celebrity wellbeing expert Karl Henry.

Ireland’s oldest banking institution has proven itself to be a capable and people-centric organization throughout the pandemic, but the lynchpin of their support program is undoubtedly the collaboration with celebrity wellbeing expert Karl Henry.

The resulting 10-week program offers a myriad of mental health support resources including live feeds, online seminars, and interactive sessions, all hosted on a purpose-built app.

Why it makes business sense:

Staying healthy in mind and body during the pandemic has been front-of-mind for many organizations. A poor mental state can result in serious health implications for an employee and result in them disconnecting from their work.

By providing expert-led wellbeing support, the Bank of Ireland is safeguarding not only their employee’s personal health but also their professional engagement.

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 2. NVIDIA


Provided access to a youth-focused entertainment hub with over 200 resources for busy parents.

NVIDIA, inventor of the GPU, which creates interactive graphics for computers, has kept busy parents front-of-mind with their COVID response package.

With so many parents juggling full-time childcare alongside their regular job, the organization made the call to develop an extensive digital resource and entertainment hub that includes educational content, virtual field trips, and online storytelling.

Why it makes business sense:

Anyone with children at home understands how difficult it can be to balance full-time childcare and a productive working schedule.

By taking the planning and development of childcare activities off employees’ plates, NVIDIA is ensuring their teams have more freedom to be fully invested and productive in their work.

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 3. Facebook


Gave $1000 to each employee to set-up their home office.


The silicon valley tech powerhouse doesn’t always get things right, but this time it seems like they’ve nailed it.

With the company extending their voluntary work-from-home policy through until mid-2021, they made the decision to provide all employees with a $1000 bonus to create the perfect home office.

Why it makes business sense:

Monetary handouts in a time of financial instability might look like a no-go on paper, but in reality, this initiative is going to help drive long-term productivity for Facebook’s 45,000+ employees.

Employees who have a fully-functioning home office with appropriate resources are much better placed to perform in their role and continue to contribute to the organization in a meaningful capacity.

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 4. Starbucks


Offered 20 free therapy sessions to all staff including part-time workers.

The coffee giant has had its fair share of difficulties throughout the pandemic, but by and large, they’ve done right by their employees - their most recent employee benefit extension continues that trend.

As of early March, the Frappuccino pioneer has expanded it’s mental health and wellbeing program to include 20 free therapy sessions per year for all employees, including part-time and seasonal staff.

Why it makes business sense:

Western society is becoming increasingly more comfortable with embracing mental health and therapy is no longer the taboo that it once was. Regular therapy is known to help people develop and foster passion, productivity, and balance in their lives and can be key to being generally happier.

Happier people make happier employees who stay longer and are more engaged with their organization. It can also help avoid toxic burnout, so this initiative by Starbucks is a no-brainer!

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 5. Sun Life Financial


Held a virtual summer camp in partnership with the Boston Children’s Museum.

Citing the absence of standard summer holiday camps (a staple of American culture), Sun Life partnered with the Boston Children’s Museum to create an online summer program they’re calling ‘Explore It’.

The 8-week program focusses on themes like imagination, outer space, and the human body and is designed to use “online programming to get kids offline with creative, fun and educational activities”.

Why it makes business sense:

Similarly to NVIDIA, this initiative supports continued productivity for employees by removing some of the strain of full-time childcare. But Sun Life goes even further with its summer program.

By reaching out to a trusted resource in Boston Children’s Museum, Sun Life is showing that they are deeply in tune with what parents need, which will promote long-term engagement with the organization.

Icon-RightArrow-Yellow 6. RS Components


Created an in-house skill-swap program to keep employees motivated.


Last but certainly not least is one of our amazing clients, UK-based RS Components who built an internal Talent Marketplace to keep employees motivated and on-track with their professional development.

RS used their internal careers site to advertise short term project and assignment opportunities and match internal talent who apply to them. The assignments are done in addition to their regular jobs and connect all relevant stakeholders so that everyone is clear about their role in making the development opportunity work.

Why it makes business sense:

It can be difficult to feel excited about your career trajectory when the economy is in the toilet. Through this program, RS Components has been able to offer developmental opportunities to its employees, despite potential revenue downturn.

Long term this will ensure employees stick with the organization longer as they are less likely to feel that their skills are being underutilized or they are unable to grow.


The takeaway?

For these organizations, putting employees first during the pandemic has been an integral part of their response plans.

These initiatives serve the employee, ensuring they are happy, healthy, and as stable as possible in disconcerting times. But they have incredible long-term business impacts on key HR metrics; engagement, productivity, and retention.

So get inspired and start thinking about how you can do the same!



Want to know how you can grow engagement, drive productivity, and boost retention from day 1 with great onboarding? Try our free onboarding whitepaper!

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Topics: Onboarding , Featured
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