How Other Companies Have Successfully Implemented HR Initiatives

How Other Companies Have Successfully Implemented HR Initiatives July 26, 2023 HR initiatives are important for any company that wants to attract and retain top talent, create a positive workplace culture, and achieve its business goals. However, not all HR initiatives are created equal. Some initiatives are more successful than others. One of the most successful HR initiatives is the implementation of a performance management system. A performance management system is a way of tracking employee performance and providing feedback. It can help to identify areas where employees need to improve, and it can also help to reward employees for their achievements. One company that has successfully implemented a performance management system is Google. Google’s performance management system is called OKRs, which stands for Objectives and Key Results. OKRs are a way of setting goals for the company and for individual employees. They are clear, measurable, and ambitious. Another successful HR initiative is the implementation of a training and development program. A training and development program is a way of providing employees with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their jobs. It can help to keep employees engaged and motivated, and it can also help to improve the company’s bottom line. One company that has successfully implemented a training and development program is Starbucks. Starbucks’ training and development program is called the Starbucks Coffee Leadership Program. The program provides employees with the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in their jobs, and it also helps to create a sense of community among employees. Finally, another successful HR initiative is the implementation of a wellness program. A wellness program is a way of promoting employee health and well-being. It can help to reduce stress, improve productivity, and reduce absenteeism. One company that has successfully implemented a wellness program is Microsoft. Microsoft’s wellness program is called the Microsoft Health and Fitness Program. The program provides employees with access to fitness classes, health screenings, and other resources. These are just a few of the most successful HR initiatives that have been implemented by other companies. By implementing similar initiatives in your own company, you can attract and retain top talent, create a positive workplace culture, and achieve your business goals. Here are some tips for implementing successful HR initiatives: Start by identifying your company’s needs. What are the areas where your company needs improvement? What are your employees’ needs? Do your research. There are many different HR initiatives that you could implement. Do some research to find the ones that are most likely to be successful for your company. Get buy-in from management. Any HR initiative is more likely to be successful if it has the support of management. Make sure that you get buy-in from management before you implement any new initiatives. Communicate with employees. Once you have decided on an HR initiative, be sure to communicate it to employees. Let them know what the initiative is, why it is being implemented, and how it will benefit them. Measure the results. It is important to measure the results of any HR initiative. This will help you to determine whether the initiative is successful and whether it is worth continuing. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of implementing successful HR initiatives in your company.

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture: Best Practices for HR Professionals

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture: Best Practices for HR Professionals May 25, 2023 As HR professionals, you play a crucial role in shaping and maintaining the culture of your organization. A positive workplace culture can have a significant impact on employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational success. Here are some of the best practices for HR professionals, in order to create a positive workplace culture. Foster a Supportive and Inclusive Environment One of the key components of a positive workplace culture is creating an environment where employees feel supported and included. HR professionals can promote inclusivity by implementing policies and practices that ensure equal opportunities for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, age, sexual orientation, etc. This includes fair and unbiased recruitment and hiring processes, equal pay for equal work, and providing reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. HR professionals can also encourage open communication and collaboration among employees, fostering a sense of belonging and teamwork. This can include promoting diversity and inclusion training programs, facilitating employee resource groups, and organizing team-building activities that promote mutual respect and understanding among employees. Recognize and Reward Employees Recognizing and rewarding employees for their contributions is essential to creating a positive workplace culture. HR professionals can implement recognition programs that acknowledge and appreciate employees’ efforts and achievements. This can include formal recognition programs such as employee of the month, annual awards, or informal recognition such as regular feedback and appreciation from managers and peers. It’s important to ensure that recognition and rewards are fair and transparent, and that they align with the organization’s values and goals. HR professionals can work with managers and leaders to establish a system for recognizing and rewarding employees based on performance, behaviors, and contributions that positively impact the workplace culture. Promote Work-Life Balance A healthy work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being and job satisfaction. HR professionals can promote work-life balance by implementing policies and programs that support flexible work arrangements, such as telecommuting, flexible work hours, and paid time off. HR professionals can also encourage employees to take breaks, vacations, and time off to recharge and rejuvenate. This includes setting a positive example by prioritizing work-life balance themselves and advocating for its importance to employees and leaders within the organization. Communicate Transparently and Effectively Clear and effective communication is a cornerstone of a positive workplace culture. HR professionals can ensure that communication channels are open, transparent, and inclusive. This includes regular and consistent communication of organizational policies, changes, and updates to employees, as well as actively seeking feedback from employees and addressing their concerns in a timely and respectful manner. HR professionals can also promote effective communication skills among employees through training and development programs, workshops, and resources that help employees build effective communication skills, including active listening, empathy, and conflict resolution. Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development Employees who feel that their organization invests in their growth and development are more likely to be engaged and motivated. HR professionals can provide opportunities for growth and development by implementing training and development programs that help employees acquire new skills, knowledge, and competencies. This can include providing access to professional development workshops, conferences, mentoring programs, and tuition reimbursement for further education. HR professionals can also work with managers to establish individualized career development plans for employees, providing them with a clear path for advancement within the organization. Creating a positive workplace culture is a critical responsibility for HR professionals. By fostering a supportive and inclusive environment, recognizing and rewarding employees, promoting work-life balance, communicating transparently and effectively, and providing opportunities for growth and development, HR professionals can contribute to a positive workplace culture that enhances employee engagement, productivity, and overall organizational success.

Why your company needs mental health first aid training

Why your company needs mental health first aid training February 2, 2023 Never before has mental health been more critical. Since the onset of COVID-19, companies have had to pay extra close attention to employee well-being. Mental health concerns are at all-time highs, cutting across sectors and industries. According to reports, 9 out of 10 employees struggled with lockdown-induced burnout and continue doing so.  The pandemic irrevocably highlighted the importance of employee well-being at the workplace. Many companies provided avenues to help with employee mental health and well-being – from training and therapy to wellness apps. However, the benefits of a sustained mental health training program extend beyond coping with Coronavirus.  We spend most of our lives and mental energies at our workplaces. With the right tools for mental health management, employees can be more engaged, focused, and productive at work regularly. Mental health training programs can vastly improve organizational health overall.  By creating a supportive emotional space at work, companies can significantly impact their employees’ quality of life. It’s especially pertinent if your company transitioned to remote or hybrid working without adequate time to consider the potential fallouts. If you’re still on the fence about it, here are some compelling benefits of mental health first aid training for companies.  Normalizes conversations on mental health Companies that offer mental health training programs reduce the stigma around asking for help. While everyone goes through depression, anxiety, and stress, most employees tend to suffer in silence. The pressure to deliver results at work can be crushing and extremely isolating. Mental health training empowers people with the right coping tools when they are struggling. Reducing the stigma through regular mental health conversations can encourage employees to seek help. Knowing they are not alone can reduce feelings of shame or anxieties with mental-health struggles. When employees know they have safe spaces at work, they are less likely to become disengaged or withdraw.   Enhances company culture When companies invest in mental health, they invest in their employees. According to a survey by the Harvard Business Review, 86% of employees think company culture should support mental health.  Implementing mental health programs demonstrates that you care for your employees. A healthy company culture supports psychological and emotional safety in the workplace. Employees need to be themselves without fear of repercussions. Higher authenticity at work means higher engagement levels. Employees will always be more invested when they feel their well-being matters to the company.  How companies can get started First, companies must recognize that mental health training is a necessity and not a perk. Poor employee well-being is devastating for company morale in the long run – eventually resulting in absenteeism and reduced productivity levels. The long-term costs associated with poor employee mental health are too high to overlook.  Mental health first aid training in the workplace helps businesses anticipate and address several stressors. Organizations can take proactive approaches by starting small. Designate days to discuss various aspects of good health and safety. Ease into conversations around mental health since it’s crucial employees connect the dots between physical and psychological well-being.  You can also consider rolling out surveys to understand the kind of mental health concerns employees may be facing. Combine the findings from the survey with an analysis of stressors specific to your company or industry. These steps can help leaders arrive at a holistic picture to address mental health concerns at their companies.

Top job interview tips

Top job interview tips November 9, 2022 Making a good impression is the key to acing job interviews. It takes more than Googling the company or common interview questions. Candidates must know the company, product, and sector inside out. Most importantly, you must know how to convey exactly how you’re the best fit for the job. To help you prepare, here’s a list of interview tips that will help you bring your A-game. 1. Research Spend time learning everything about the company from as many sources as possible. Google, read employee reviews or negative press if any. Make sure you reach out to current or previous employees. They’re the best sources for first-hand information on what it’s really like to work at the company. In addition, ask the recruiter whether the company follows a specific interview format. Is it a standard Q&A? Brain teasers? Different organizations use different interview formats. So, it’s alright to ask HR ahead of time. 2. Preapre and anticipate interview questions Even if you’ve given a hundred interviews before, it’s worthwhile to consider what may resonate with interviewers the most. Think about your skills and accomplishments and which ones best align with a particular job. You will find that the examples you share can vary from one interview to the next. 3. Prepare bullet points When looking up commonly-asked interview questions, jot down bullet points instead of paragraphs. The pointers will come in handy during the interview. You’ll sound confident and not like you’re reading from a script. 4. Practice It’s always a good idea to practice beforehand. Look in the mirror and answer questions out loud. Doing so helps to understand your body language and voice modulation. Try doing mock interviews with a friend to build confidence and help clarify your thoughts. Remember that interviewers almost always ask two questions – “Tell me about yourself” and “What’s your biggest weakness?” Have answers ready to the former since it can help you sail through the first part of the interview. Don’t get thrown off by the second question. Think of something true that will not impact the role. For instance, maybe you struggle with delegation or public speaking. Follow up the statement with what you’ve been doing to address the challenge. Finally, numbers! When describing your accomplishments, include percentages, quotas, or increases in the discussion. Numbers offer more depth and perspective about your achievements.   5. Always ask questions Many candidates do themselves a disservice by never asking the interviewer questions. Every interview leads up to the part when it’s time for candidates to ask questions. Make sure you have a set of questions ready. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to find out more about your role and the company overall. For example, ask about the work culture, the team, or why the position is vacant. You could even ask questions about the team or company goals for the next few years. Thoughtful questions show recruiters that you’ve done your research. 6. Dress appropriately Keep your look relaxed and contemporary, and stick to the basics for an interview. It helps to know what the company dress code is beforehand. Ask someone who works there or try digging up information on the organisation’s social channels. Either way, you can never go wrong with a well-tailored modern outfit. Remember that the little things matter. Check shoes, fingernails, or any loose seams and fix them immediately. We think people don’t notice, but they do. Additionally, pamper yourself before an interview to feel good. Get a haircut, facial, or even a new interview outfit – anything that can get you feeling like your best self. Before the interview, spend time reflecting on your professional journey. You must understand your own story. When you know your journey inside out, it will be easy to explain it with conviction to others. All the best.

Teleworking and employee’s well being

Teleworking and employee’s well being September 19, 2022 Over two years ago, many of us hurriedly left the office and walked straight into an uncertain future. The dangers of COVID-19 meant most of us had to find effective ways of working from home. We had no other choice. While a challenge initially, everyone settled into a rhythm – only to eventually wonder why the model wasn’t widely accepted much before this. Fast forward to today, and many people don’t wish to return to the office as we once knew it. We’ve reconsidered previously held notions of what a successful career means. The result is that traditional associations between productivity and office presence have effectively gone out the window. Teleworking is here to stay At least one-third of business leaders plan to keep operations remote or hybrid, regardless of vaccinations or the pandemic ending. The decision isn’t just good financial sense – it is in keeping with what most employees want. The proof is in the numbers. A FlexJobs survey in 2021 showed how 65% of employees wish to continue working remotely. 35% preferred changing jobs to going back to the office, while 33% felt hybrid models were ideal. The figures indicate a significant shift in priorities. Today’s workforce values greater flexibility and autonomy. Teleworking or remote cultures empower workers to determine when, how, and where they work. There are clear benefits to this. Control and autonomy over the variables of a working day can increase productivity, work-life balance and save costs from ditching the commute. Plus, we have enough literature that shows remote employees are happier than on-site workers. For businesses, remote cultures provide opportunities to save costs, innovate, and use technology to streamline operations. On the flip side, we must consider how these rapid changes will impact employee mental health and well-being. What are the costs to mental health? Despite an overwhelming preference for working at least some days from home, employee mental health continues to decline. The pressure to always remain “on” is real. Blurry distinctions between work and home lead to employee burnout.  The role of management in a new working world Executives and HR leaders must help employees navigate the permanent shift to hybrid models by focusing on their well-being. The more clarity you provide, the less stressful it will be for employees.  Transparent discussions Leaders must encourage open dialogues to understand employee challenges and how to make the transition easier. Few things can offer perspective and alleviate concerns better than an honest chat. It shows companies value their employees. Regular check-ins Conduct fortnightly or monthly check-ins with the team. Leaders must prioritise checking in as much as project or task updates. Doing so on a regular basis can help address any concerns before they snowball into a crisis. A process overhaul Companies planning on staying remote can no longer afford to make things up as they go along. Let’s face it – everyone was doing that at the start of the pandemic. Hybrid or remote workplaces require defined processes to ensure efficiency. Offices must re-examine and re-write employee manuals to reflect a new working paradigm. Remember that there’s no such thing as too much detail. Define everything – from recruitment and onboarding to increments and team-building activities. Companies must be able to carry out all processes remotely or in person. Technology audits Conduct surveys or audits to ensure equipment is up and running. The equipment you provide can be the difference between an incredible day or a series of meltdowns. Avenues for training and reskilling Support employee upskilling or training programs just as you would for on-site workers. Employees may feel left out or stuck career-wise when they are not in the office. As we seek to rebuild after the pandemic, employees will need new skills to thrive in a new remote workplace. Skills such as critical thinking, self-regulation, and creativity are more critical now than before. Employee training must consider a changing world when designing training programmes. The priority for employers is to rethink traditional ideas of employee support. Remote collaboration tools and processes are one part of the solution. But systems are only as good as the people behind them. Employers must find ways to provide remote environments that support focus, productivity, and employee well-being.

Reasons Why Saying Yes is The Best for Your Career

Reasons Why Saying Yes is The Best for Your Career June 7, 2022 Richard Branson once famously said, “If someone offers you an amazing opportunity to do something and you’re not sure you can do it, say yes. Then learn how to do it later.” There is wisdom in his advice. Plus, it comes from Branson – a disruptive, successful, and visionary billionaire. But for mere mortals like most of us, his words may sound a tad insane. How can one possibly say yes to everything? The premise here isn’t about being the proverbial “yes person” or negating your needs. In this context, saying yes means having the conviction and courage to pursue goals we know we really want to. Too often, we fear failure and rejection. We automatically expect the worst. Saying no becomes an impulse, and we end up rejecting several possibilities. Many brilliant chances come disguised as innocuous things – not as grand events announcing their arrival. It could be a chance to step up at work or an unfamiliar challenge. Opportunities can come knocking in unexpected ways. How can you tell the difference? If it’s something that sparks an excitement hitherto lying dormant, you need to pay attention. That spark is your intuition, telling you to say yes or, at the very least, to ask more questions. Saying yes to new opportunities can be tough – especially when they push you far outside your comfort zone. However, agreeing to or strongly considering each opportunity is imperative to going places. Former CEO of Walgreens, Greg Wasson, concurs with the concept of saying yes. He once told the press that he became a top executive at Walgreens by taking on every role that the company presented. When Wasson had to run Walgreen’s health services in Las Vegas, he didn’t know what to expect. He mulled over the decision quite a bit but eventually took it as an opportunity to learn. It turned out to be the one decision that accelerated his career. Whenever a new opportunity comes by, ask yourself three questions. What is its possible impact on your quality of life? What can it do for me? Is the timing conducive? Not perfect, but conducive. There’s no such thing as perfect timing. Anytime people can broaden horizons at work or outside, it is always beneficial. The idea is to consider every opportunity before instinctively saying no. You never know what may change your life. Award-winning producer and writer Shonda Rhimes’ story is a testament to this. She spent a year saying yes to everything – from trivial things to others that frightened her as a self-described introvert. It’s a decision she credits with transforming her life. Brilliant opportunities can pass you by if you wait to feel ready to pursue them. By saying yes, you operate from a mindset of curiosity and growth, not negativity. In addition, saying yes can organically open up spaces for dialogue. It creates possibilities to collaborate, partner, and build great things with others. Most importantly, saying yes brings you infinite sources of joy. A life more fun and rewarding in the long run.

How Good Physical Health Supports Good Mental Health

How Good Physical Health Supports Good Mental Health September 8, 2021 We know that exercise is good for the body, and while the benefits of regular exercise on our overall physical health are widely known, not many realize how to reap its benefits to improve mental health. The physical and mental health benefits of exercise People who exercise regularly do it for several reasons. Some to improve physical health and physique; others to shed some extra pounds. Most people work out because of how good it makes them feel. The energy, motivation, or incredible positivity from exercising is unparalleled. As one of the most powerful tools to boost moods, exercise helps reduce depression, anxiety, ADHD, and stress. Staying active during COVID-19 Social distancing and self-quarantining have restricted our ability to exercise in gyms and other group settings, but the importance of keeping physically active remains, now more than ever. Intense physical activity can be daunting to some. However, research shows how even modest exercise routines can positively impact a person’s well-being. You do not need to be living in the gym or running a marathon to reap the benefits. During these challenging times, many people have turned to at-home workouts from the famous Peloton bikes and treadmills, to YouTube videos, to walk around the block. As a coping mechanism, exercising is one of the most effective methods for dealing with stress – particularly as each of us battles our respective personal and professional challenges. Exercise to help depression Research indicates that exercise effectively treats moderate depression with none of the side -effects of medication. It releases endorphins to energize spirits and activates parts of the brain responsible for feelings of calm and well-being. Even though the global health crisis is far from over, exercising can bring that elusive feel-good factor into our daily lives. Exercise to alleviate stress and anxiety If extended periods of staying at home make you anxious, nothing can compare to exercise for relieving stress and anxiety. Focusing on your body’s movements or regulating your breathing as you work out allows you to slow down. Being mindful of your body extends to your mind, helping to calm the flows of worry and anxiety you might be experiencing. Exercise to help concentration When working remotely, the risk of losing focus can be high, with so many distractions around. Exercising enhances memory and concentration. Physical activity boosts the brain’s serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine levels – all of which help our focus and attention. Exercise keeps you mentally sharp for the tasks at hand. It also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and prevents age-related decline. Each day brings a new opportunity to try incorporate fitness into your daily routine. Not only does working out aid better sleep and boost energy levels, but it also has fantastic short and long-term health benefits.

What Do Countries with The Best Response to Covid All Have in common?

What Do Countries with The Best Response to Covid All Have in common? February 18, 2021 The novel coronavirus revealed the ability of world leaders to respond to an enormous health and economic crisis. It is clear as day that some have risen to the occasion while others falter. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox — the CEO of 20-first, a global gender-balance consultancy based in the UK – conducted a study of 194 countries and their responses to the pandemic. Countries with the most effective initial responses had one thing in common – they are all led by women leaders. Even as the world imploded, women leaders took charge and demonstrated lessons on decisiveness, transparency, and empathy. An analysis of data reveals that mortality rates and infection spread were, on average, lower in countries with women leaders. A deeper evaluation suggests several possible reasons why – one of the most compelling factors was the decision to go into lockdown much earlier. What’s more, women leaders demonstrated remarkably different leadership styles compared to their male counterparts. Wittenberg-Cox narrowed down a few takeaways from her comparative study of women-led countries during the pandemic. Empathetic Communication Instead of instilling fear or panic, most women leaders operated from a space of empathy. Inclusive communication was at the core of successful responses to COVID-19. Women leaders allayed fears by including everyone in the conversation, regardless of whether they form a part of the voting population. For instance, Erna Solberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, held Coronavirus instructional events for children to help them deal with the crisis. Authenticity Forgoing official trappings in favor of authenticity were an outlier in successful leadership during the pandemic. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hosted Facebook Lives to ‘check-in with everyone.’ Her chats were stripped-down and informal, allowing citizens a peek into her realities as she juggled being a mother and the country’s leader. It reinforced the feeling that everyone – including Ardern herself – was in this together. Truthfulness Women leaders demonstrated what Wittenberg-Cox calls rational optimism. Great leaders manage uncertainty to their followers by “showing what they know, what they don’t know, and sharing the optimism that you’ll all get through something together.” One of the prime examples of this was German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As Germany reeled from the coronavirus, Merkel relied on facts and expert advice to guide her lockdown efforts. Never one to mince words, she stayed true to her stance even during the pandemic. “There are indications that things will become more difficult in coming months … It’s serious … Continue to take it seriously,” she stated. Decisiveness Decisiveness and prompt action distinguished most women leaders in their handling of the pandemic. Women leaders informed their decision-making with counsel from their advisors and various organizations to chart efficient strategies in tackling the virus. Under President Tsai Ing-Wen, Taiwan’s response to the virus was incredibly commendable. Taking cues from lessons during the SARS outbreak, Taiwan had a government pandemic plan in place. While other countries were still coming to terms, Taiwan was already contact tracing, quarantining, and ensuring an abundance of masks. During the early days, Taiwan had one of the lowest coronavirus deaths globally despite its proximity to Wuhan, China. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also received praise for her prompt actions, including a strong stimulus package equivalent to over four percent of the country’s GDP.  Technology Embracing technology and its possibilities mitigated the threats associated with the pandemic. Iceland Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir started an intensive screening and tracking system that contributed to successfully battling the virus early on. Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin launched a contract tracing app to minimize the virus spread. She also enlisted social media influencers to share reliable information on the disease and preventing its spread. Convention dictates that leaders demonstrate aggression and outright dominance, traditionally male characteristics. Challenging times call for effective leadership, and it might be time we rethink what the term means. It took a global crisis, but women leaders of the world exemplify successful, non-traditional leadership approaches.

Habits Everyone Needs to Adapt to Be Successful

Habits Everyone Needs to Adapt to Be Successful November 12, 2020 Today’s world is remarkably different from a decade ago, and it will likely be unrecognizable a generation later. While the seasons may change, the idea of success can weather times or trends – primarily since the definition of success is subjective and has no prescriptive path. No matter how one chooses to define it, several fundamental habits can support building a rewarding life or career. A solid foundation can drive success and help people realize their ultimate potential. Meaningful Mornings Rise with the sun or a little after it. You do not need to go on a 10 km run but focus instead on things that bring you joy. Read the news, look after your plants, or make breakfast – it is always the little things. Waking up early also gives you extra time to plan the day. Precious time to prioritize work, anticipate challenges, or schedule a class you meant to try ages ago. Articulate a Vision The best person to determine what success means is you. Everyone has different ideas of what a successful, meaningful life is. Take the time to understand your definition of success. An excellent way to affirm this vision is by writing it down. List things that value, inspire, and motivate you. Prioritize Health and Fitness Keeping your body healthy is essential for the mental acumen required to succeed. Challenging the body gives added energy, providing the brain the clarity it needs to navigate work or personal challenges. Planning and Discipline Define a timeline and list the general requirements of the goals you seek. Establish long-term goals as well as short-term milestones. These exercises can help you determine where you are currently, along with things you might need to achieve your goals. Engagement and Relationship Building Working towards success is exhilarating but can be fraught with self-doubt. When in doubt, look for inspiration from people in the same field. Read up and seek out people who share similar values and goals. Engaging with multiple people offers a fresh perspective and creates an ecosystem that supports growth. Learn from Experience Remember that goal posts can shift in the course of your life. Things do not always go according to plan, but changing course is part of the process. Consider it an opportunity to re-assess and grow, not a sign of failure. Continual Learning Investing in self-learning can be challenging when life overwhelms. However, the long-term returns of self-improvement are significant. Continual learning is to the mind what exercise is to the body. Take a course, read for pleasure or education – regardless of what you choose, developing these habits goes a long way. Unplug For general wellness, prioritize regular time away from work and electronic devices. Unplug completely and dedicate that time to people and things you love. Maintaining a work-life balance is crucial for sanity and productivity in the long run. While there is no one path to success, it is the little everyday habits that add up towards achieving success. Define what your personal goals are and do everything in your power to make things happen. Written by our Senior Recruiter, Andrew Clarke

What We Haven’t Learned from The 1918 Pandemic

What We Haven’t Learned from The 1918 Pandemic August 4, 2020 Since the onset of COVID-19, the world has turned to lessons from historical experience with the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918. Interventions today like physical distancing and closures of public spaces are guided by similar efforts to stop the spread of the flu in 1918-19. Instead of learning lessons from the world’s greatest pandemic over a hundred years ago, history seems to be repeating itself in several other ways. Like the 1918 virus, COVID-19 is ‘novel’ in that it is a highly infectious virus previously unseen. The 1918 virus (Influenza A Subtype H1N1) and the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) come from different viral families. What they have in common are transmission methods. These are primarily through respiratory droplets and surfaces they land on. Additionally, respiratory failures reported from COVID-19 patients are haunting echoes of H1N1 patients during the Spanish flu. An Interconnected World The origins of the deadly strain of the H1N1 virus remain a matter of debate, but evidence indicates that troop mobilization during World War 1 drove virus transmission. Soldiers left their homes in small towns or cities and traveled the world, passing through several ports, transit hubs, and came in contact with civilians. The first wave of the Spanish flu took place in the early summer of 1918 coinciding with these movements. Both viruses are undoubtedly products of their time – both driven by an increasingly connected world. Phases of the Virus According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 1918 pandemic lasted for two years: the first wave in March 1918 and the second wave – marking the most devastating phase – occurred in the fall of the same year. In January 1919, a third wave started in Australia, working its way to Europe and the US, finally subsiding in the summer. The virus never disappeared entirely, but by 1920, it appeared people had developed herd immunity. The ebb and flow of the 1918 virus share commonalities with what the world is experiencing today. Social Distancing and Mask Wearing Much like today, resistance to mask-wearing and social distancing was prevalent in 1918. Health regulations mandated the wearing of masks to slow the spread of disease. Many people resisted, citing restrictions to their personal and civil liberties. Back then, people wore masks made of gauze and cheesecloth. Those who refused to wear masks faced fines or even imprisonment in cities that mandated them. Social Mitigation Efforts Even during the 1918 pandemic, it was clear that social mitigation efforts could drastically slow down the virus – the flu vaccines made an appearance only in the 1940s. Until then, health officials emphasized the need for mask-wearing, frequent hand-washing, and social distancing to curb the spread. Places that implemented these guidelines – along with closures of public businesses, schools, and public spaces – saw fewer deaths, similar to what is happening today. Reporting and Misinformation Since the early days, conspiracy theories on the origins and spread of COVID-19 have been rife. The 1918 pandemic had its version of sensational reporting or fake news. From blaming German U-boats and jazz music to targeting immigrants and Jews – trends that are disturbingly similar to what is happening today. A century apart and two pandemics later, not much has changed. The spread of misinformation and resistance to health guidelines remain. Amid a global health crisis, rationality takes a back seat as extreme behavior and theories prevail. Medicine and science have made remarkable strides since 1918, but the world is yet to learn other lessons. Numerous lives were lost, and economies decimated before countries took the threat of the virus seriously. Most places now have vaccines for COVID-19 yet also face new virus variants, potentially more infectious. Complacency in the wake of vaccines only adds to a crisis we do not have full knowledge of yet. The fundamental differences in the COVID-19 strain do not offer predictability or exact parallels to the influenza waves of 1918-19. Until then, the world needs to rely on social mitigation measures to contain the virus spread.