Rapid Response and Strategy Collaborative HR series a Resounding Success

On June 30, July 8th, and July 22nd, the Rapid Response and Strategy Collaborative held an online video-clinic series at the intersection of human resources and racial justice. The audience for the series were Executive Directors, Chief Operating Officers, Managing Directors, Human Resources staff and other senior staff. We developed this series based on our knowledge of the field, surveys and conversations with our own clients, as well as feedback from funders. 

From there, we focused on three topics: 

1) Treating Our People Right Even in Crisis (navigating shifts in organizational structure and the implications for staff and leadership) led by Mala Nagarajan with RoadMap 

2) Updating HR Policies to Reflect the Law and Our Values led by Whitney Herrington with New Left Accelerator, and 

3) Working Together From Home (focused on best practices for remote work) led by Rita Sever with RoadMap. Lisa Jervis from Information Ecology was the technology lead for all three sessions. 

Background on the Collaborative:

As the pandemic altered the workplace, we recognized the need to offer support through collaboration with our allies. We marshaled our most trusted capacity-building partners to provide timely guidance for urgently emerging issues and strategies for next-step thinking. 

To this end, RoadMap, Strategies for Social Change, New Left Accelerator/The Capacity Shop, Vision Change Win, and Information Ecology have come together for three areas of work:

  1. Capacity support: We offered hot-line and issue-focused video learning clinics. These not only proffered insight into leader needs, but it also provided high quality, rapid-response support, and technical assistance that can be followed up with in-depth capacity building work with organizations and cohorts.
  2. A strategy space to assess conditions, map the field, and provide thought leadership along with movement partners.
  3. Documenting and learning how these efforts inform our work, field knowledge, and funders.


A Summary of the Series and What we Learned

The series welcomed 392 unique registrants! One hundred eleven people registered for all three parts, and 84 people registered for two of the three. Participation in each webinar hovered around 100, and all who registered received both the presentation and recording. Each session was interactive and featured small groups and polls.

Treating our People Right even in Crisis 

This session explored various scenarios organizations may be facing in this period of multiple interlocking crises such as: 

    • Closing down
    • Exploring strategic alliances, staff sharing or mergers
    • Downsizing, discontinuing programs, layoffs
    • Reprioritizing and redesigning work

Mala Nagarajan explored each of these scenarios, navigating options for managing and communicating with staff. Each option focused on specific recommendations that  accounted for risks and elevated equity awareness. .  Below are the results of two participant polls about changes in the workforce and options being considered.


Poll: What changes have COVID-19 caused in the size of your workforce?
Counts–73 unique respondents % of respondents answering this way
Actual or targeted decrease (furloughs or layoffs) 5 6.85%
Actual or targeted increase (hiring!) 14 19.18%
Hiring freeze 8 10.96%
No change/undecided 46 63.01%
Grand Total 73
Poll: What options are you considering? (note respondents could pick more than 1)
Answers Counts–79 unique respondents % of respondents answering this way
Downsizing (e.g., shrinking or discontinuing programs and laying off staff) 9 11.39%
Exploring strategic alliances (e.g., merging, sharing staff. consolidating back office functions) 9 11.39%
Little or no change–remote or return to work 22 27.85%
Reprioritizing and redesigning work 50 63.29%
Shutting down 2 2.53%
Grand Total 92


Updating Our Policies to Reflect the Law and Our Values

Whitney Herrington reviewed Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requirements and explored flexible leave and work schedule options.

She reviewed a number of policies to consider updating including:

Leave/time off Work schedules Remote work Travel and meetings
Stay home/ quarantine Tech use and accessibility Communication Employee wellness benefits

She emphasized that change is an opportunity to realign values and reviewed best practices for staff communication when updating or implementing new policies including getting staff sign-offs on any changes as well as two-way communication and feedback. 


Poll: Would it be useful to you to have sample values-based policies for this area? 

Count of people choosing this % of respondents choosing this (73 unique respondents)
Access to and use of organizational technology 44 60.27%
Business continuity 34 46.58%
Communication 49 67.12%
Employee wellness benefits 49 67.12%
Leave or time off 43 58.90%
Remote work 55 75.34%
Stay home/quarantine 42 57.53%
Travel and meetings 30 41.10%
Work schedules 45 61.64%


Working Together From Home

In this session Rita Sever reviewed the “5 Cs” of working from home – practices that organizational leaders must develop:

  • Configuration
  • Connection
  • Compliance
  • Communication
  • Culture

Some of the questions/needs that were raised by participants in this session included: 

  • Sample work from home policies
  • Assessing mental health and work from home needs
  • Giving and receiving virtual feedback


Poll: Which of these topics are you most concerned about in terms of compliance with labor laws?

Count of respondents choosing this option % of respondents choosing this (60 unique respondents)
Ergonomics of staff’s home work setups 29 48.33%
Home office expense reimbursement 24 40.00%
Making exceptions to policies 31 51.67%
Overtime and exempt/non-exempt employees 17 28.33%
Work from home policies 32 53.33%
Workers’ Comp concerns 15 25.00%


Follow up from the series

We shared all these materials with the registrants. We also documented this series and will be using our takeaways to create a model Human Resource policy collection. We hope it will serve as a resource during this time and provide further services to organizations’ infrastructure.

We are developing another series where we will focus on:

  • Financial forecasting for organizations
  • Political forecasting in light of the elections
  • Intentional movement leader and intermediary engagement


Would you like to join us? Stay tuned for updates!