In the midst of pandemonium and confusion, it is important that there should be someone who should be able to hold his head and think straight. And I think HR people in Nigeria should wake up to their role to providing leadership and direction at this time. The outbreak of Ebola in the West African region has spread to Nigeria as seven people are confirmed to have contracted the deadly virus with one reported to have died.
For a country with an estimated population of over one hundred million, an Ebola outbreak is worrisome. It is more disturbing when one realises that Nigeria’s healthcare system is not strong enough to contain a deadly epidemic like Ebola without international help. As I write, medical doctors working in government hospitals are on strike. This is stretching the government to the limits and fear and panic have set into the minds of people.
One HR Manager told me this morning that he received about ten panic calls from his staff during the course of the night. Each one of them suddenly has one unconfirmed medication for Ebola or the other. People are scared-stiff I must say. The crux of this discourse is for HR to rise up to the occasion to calming employees.
For organisations that have medical units, they should sensitise their employees on ways to stay safe from Ebola. The creation of information desk on Ebola within the organization will also go a long way to assuage peoples’ fears. The internet is also a good source of information which can be printed and pasted on notice boards. Biometric clocking system available in some organisations should be reviewed if employees are vulnerable.
The spread of Ebola is a global health emergency as declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO). It is not only the responsibility of governments but businesses should also be involved. Businesses have the right to protect its employees within their premises and as they commute back and forth to the workforce daily. Consequently, HR is really involved and should lead the process. As this is being done, HR people also need to stay safe.