Keeping the“ Human” in Human Resources During a Pandemic

Casey Voigtlaender
Human Resources Manager

As a new season approaches it feels as though we have stepped into the new normal that is living and working during a pandemic. If you just examined day-to-day life at the Ranch, not much has changed; however, many steps have been taken in the last six months to keep the community safe. As we all know, March was a pivotal time for the COVID crisis and looking back, there was much we did not know and many decisions that needed to be made. As the severity of how quickly the virus was spreading became clear, the Ranch entered unprecedented times with the rest of the world.

The first couple of weeks into the crisis were a bit touch and go. Lots of information was passed around but at the same time, there were a lot of unknowns. The Ranch quickly shifted to prioritize limiting exposure to the virus. Almost half of Spring Lake Ranch’s staff were asked to work remotely, personal and professional visitors were not allowed, new sanitizing and cleaning protocols were put in place, and the frontline staff remaining on-site rallied together to support each other and residents that were now sheltered from the outside world.

As the staff on the Hill stepped up and into new, diverse roles, the remote staff worked to set up their home offices and figure out ways to communicate from afar. As a whole, we adapted (and sometimes fumbled) our way through inconsistent internet connections and video conferencing so that everyone could stay connected and remain a part of the community.

Working in Human Resources during this time has been eye-opening. As the state and federal governments scrambled to put together guidelines, regulations, policies, and new relief programs, those of us in HR were tasked with navigating, applying, and supporting employees through all the changes and incoming information. We moved quickly to implement policies that provided extra paid sick leave and paid time off to care for family members, to implement guidelines on how to safely interact with each other and for people to return to work, and to apply for grants that would compensate the essential workers on the frontline during the height of the virus.

It has been remarkable to see our staff’s ability to roll up their sleeves and band together during this extraordinary, challenging time. If nothing else, COVID-19 has exposed the resiliency and adaptability of our staff and reaffirmed the importance of our mission to provide a place for people to grow, thrive, and participate in community.

Six months into this pandemic – wearing masks, social distancing, incorporating remote work, and limiting our individual exposure is the new normal. Although there are still many unknowns, our priority continues to be the health and safety for our staff and residents. As a community, we are so fortunate to value shared experiences. I’m confident we will only get stronger as we navigate the path forward.