Alex Carnevale, Global Operations Executive & Turnaround Expert


Which measures have you seen taken from an HR perspective to keep operating during the lockdown?

  • High frequency of communications on all levels (senior leadership, local)
  • Transparent discussions (don’t lie, be open on things that are unknown or evolving)
  • Proactive and professional cooperation with unions, works councils
  • Create systems and processes for people to be heard (2-way feedback)
  • Manage HR on national level (ie government subsidies) keep consistency by country even if you are organized differently

Over the last months I have participated on several global multi-panelist webinars with Safestart (a workplace safety training company) to exchange best practice safety protocols in a Covid environment. Every participant has been open, humble and able to admit they don’t have the answers.

Some of the panelists had never been involved in a factory closure, and participants in the US noted that more facilities were kept open there compared to Europe, where around two thirds of production plants were shut down at one point.

Across all industries and regions, the consistent message was that this is an opportunity to build trust and unity between management, leadership, workers and unions – there can be differences of opinion, but everybody wants exactly the same thing – a workplace which can be productive while safeguarding the health of all employees.

What particular challenges are companies facing? Anything which hasn’t been talked about in the business press?

  • Managing information and misinformation is a huge challenge (especially in hyper-available information age, social media, etc)
  • Facts about the illness itself have evolved, changed as more has been learned
  • Balancing desire to keep plants open with appropriate risk is harder as things can change on daily basis

Which sectors have fared better during the crisis?

  • Technology, especially remote
  • Manufacturing (varies, depends on supply chain challenges)
  • Food and essential services

Obviously, the air, cruise and hotel industries have been pummeled by the crisis, and probably not all the major incumbents will survive. On the other hand, due to the enormous uptake in food deliveries, packaging has been booming. Even on a much smaller scale there are positive stories – as more of us shop locally to avoid large supermarkets, specialised stores are benefiting.

What impact has the Covid-19 crisis had on the way companies are resourcing and approaching Talent? (hiring freeze, slowdown, only replacements...?)

  • Freezes were first reaction (cash conservation)
  • Good companies will discuss keeping continuity on talent development and attraction
  • This crisis exposes what the leadership and operating culture of a company really is
  • Finding and developing agility in talent (remote working, dealing with ambiguity) becomes more important

What do think will be the impact of the Corona virus on general Talent strategy over the next 12 months? Will companies adopt a conservative wait-and-see attitude?

  • Good companies will move much quicker than 12 months, will find available talent and develop from within.
  • Most companies will wait and delay, as much for cash reasons as anything

How have organizations managed messaging and internal communications across the region? How has this contributed to maintaining employee engagement?

Best practice is deliver “context” message from senior leadership (situation, expectations, commitments, priorities) then let local leadership have the freedom to manage the day to day.  Things change so quickly the operational management has to be done on the ground and not centrally.

A multinational I have been working with has been through a journey of modernization over the last 5 years. The efforts made to embed strong leadership principles, agile culture and dealing effectively with ambiguity have really paid off – working with constantly changing messages, bad information and unknown situations typifies the Covid workplace, and the whole company has been able to maintain its focus on how to create successful outcomes despite this.

Have you seen any creative ways in which companies have contributed to the fight against Covid-19 (not necessarily financially)?

  • Engage the families (24/7 mentality)
  • Share supply chains on PPE, protective equipment with neighbor companies
  • Support families, ie schoolchildren situations
  • Change production to make PPE (ie a building products company changed a knitting line over to make masks)


What do you think companies should be doing to get back on track?

Simplify Priorities, Set Clear Protocols On Covid Management, Keep Communicating.

To kickstart growth, where do you think investments in new resources can best be made? Sales and Marketing, Procurement, or other areas?

Depends on the industry.  All of the above represent opportunity.  Sales is huge opportunity as the traditional ways of selling (ie high face to face) may be radically changed.  So this is big opportunity.  Partnering on helping customers production stay active is another opportunity. It should also be remembered that many great companies have been founded in times of crisis and depression.

How do you view the next 6-12 months from a growth and HR perspective?

There will be opportunities but it will be selective rather than broad (ie individual companies and industries) overall will remain depressed vs prior years but pockets of growth will be there.

Do you anticipate that the crisis will make any lasting changes to the way people work, or the way they are allowed to work? (eg more teleworking, less/more travel, more reliance on IT tools, other...)?

All of the above.  I think of it as a rubber band that is not fully retractable.  Things will come back in the direction of “normal” but not fully.  There will be more use of remote and technology.  Face to face interaction will still be valued but may look differently

What have you been surprised by in a positive way from an HR/TA point of view?

People at all levels (including unions) are more open and flexible because everyone recognizes this is seismic event.  So there is an opportunity to make real change happen faster than it was possible before.

To conclude:

What are you most looking forward to in the coming months?

Companies being able to change faster than they thought possible.  Better cooperation in many directions

What changes will you make to the way you live or work after things get back to normal?

  • Keep better health, life balance.
  • Be thoughtful and selective on meetings