Making sense of a mess: “doing” resilience in the vortex of a crisis
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This is an author-created, un-copyedited version of an article accepted for publication in Personnel Review.
Purpose The purpose of the paper is to investigate how human resource professionals (HRPs), in a variety of organizations, responded to the crisis brought about by the event of COVID-19. In particular, it aims to show how organizations, across all sectors, in Western Australia responded with urgency and flexibility to the crisis and showed “resilience in practice”.
Design/methodology/approach The study is based on 136 questionnaire responses, 32 interviews and 25 managerial narratives. The mixed qualitative methodology was designed to enable an investigation of the impact of COVID-19 and the response of HRPs.
Findings HRPs have responded with agility and flexibility to the impact of COVID-19. They have done so through extensive trial and error, sometimes succeeding, sometimes failing. They have not simply activated a preconceived continuity plan.
Research limitations/implications The research indicates that resilience is an ongoing accomplishment of organizations and the people in them. The objective was description rather than prescription, and the research does not offer solutions to future pandemic-like situations.
Practical implications The research suggests that, given the impact of COVID-19 on organizations, HR practices, processes and policies will need to be thoroughly reconsidered for relevance in the post-COVID world. Possible future directions are highlighted.
Originality/value The research considers the actions of HRPs as they responded to a global crisis as the crisis unfolded.
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