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Battling COVID-19 with human resource management bundling

Arosha S. Adikaram (Department of Human Resources Management, University of Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka)
N.P.G.S.I. Naotunna (Department of Business Management, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka)
H.P.R. Priyankara (Department of Business Management, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka)

Employee Relations

ISSN: 0142-5455

Article publication date: 7 April 2021

Issue publication date: 1 October 2021




This paper aims to present an empirically driven crisis management framework of complementary human resource management (HRM) bundles that can be utilized in simultaneously managing the health crisis, financial crisis and disruptions to business operations through lockdown and other government restrictions propelled by the COVID-19 pandemic.


The framework is developed employing qualitative methodology, drawing from the successful HRM practices adopted by 26 Sri Lankan companies in battling the many crises of COVID-19 and using the soft HRM approach as the theoretical basis.


The findings report a framework that consists of three key HRM bundles (health and safety bundle, cost-saving bundle and employee motivation and engagement bundle) entailing an array of inter-related, internally consistent, complementary and mutually reinforcing HRM practices and HRM activities. These HRM bundles and the HRM practices as well as the HRM activities therein, indicate how a softer approach to managing employees can be used during a crisis.

Practical implications

The framework will inform the HRPs of the HRM bundles, HRM practices and HRM activities that can be used to manage the multiple crises created by COVID-19 and other similar pandemics.


The study contributes to and expands the knowledge of HRM in crisis management generally and HRM in a global pandemic more specifically.



Adikaram, A.S., Naotunna, N.P.G.S.I. and Priyankara, H.P.R. (2021), "Battling COVID-19 with human resource management bundling", Employee Relations, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 1269-1289.



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