WCO Global webinar series: Managing HR through a crisis and beyond

START DATE 19 January 2021
END DATE 21 January 2021



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The current pandemic situation caused by COVID-19 has profoundly changed the reality of everyone, everywhere. People and organizations around the globe have experienced the shock of being lockdown and the distress of uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Customs Administrations across the world have not been spared from this situation. As a result, Human Resource professionals in Customs are navigating unknown waters and they have to reconcile staff’s safety and security with keeping vital trade flowing for economic prosperity. The crisis has illustrated that the people within the Customs administration – the Customs officers – are its greatest asset. They are the driving force behind the operations and processes. Therefore, more than ever before Customs HR professionals, are being called upon to completely change their operating model while being agile in order to support an appropriate and innovative response to this crisis.

Having this in mind, many HR professionals in Customs had to make decisions in a very short timeframe, without sufficient data and previous lessons learned or best practices. They had to decide who should come to the office or duty station to work and who should work remotely from home in order to safeguard social distancing practices while maintaining business continuity; how and where staff could be moved into digital space or teleworking while keeping them trained and skilled; what the key priorities are and how these can best be communicated to staff; how to support staff in these challenging times on a personal level and keeping them motivated and engaged; and, how to empower managers suddenly leading remote teams to do so with optimal results and performance.

From the outset of the pandemic the WCO has supported Member Customs Administrations in the field of people management and development, by adopting a proactive and innovative approach based on virtual capacity building and technical assistance. This initiative is part of the support provided by the WCO to its Members, and especially to executive and professional Customs HR personnel, so they can effectively lead - with Customs executives - the response to the current crisis and potential future crises.

This series of webinars will focus on crisis management from the HRM perspective and explore the critical role that Customs HR professionals in leading their organization’s response, while keeping staff safe, committed and productive and supporting the organizational performance.

Structure of the webinars

This webinar series will draw from the experience and lessons learned from the international Customs community as well as international private and public organizations around the world (Customs Administrations DGs and Customs HRM Directors, international organizations, academia, private sector, and consultants).

The webinars will be delivered from 19, 20 and 21 January 2021 using the Kudo platforms with simultaneous translation (English and French) with live presentation and will be expected to last between 10 - 15 minutes and live Q & A session for participants.  It is expected that nine webinars will be organized and delivered, dealing with different topics relating to Human Resource Management in a crisis context.

The webinars will made be available to the global Customs community and WCO partners. Moreover, the discussions will provide inputs into a guide on best practices in this field made possible with support of the United Kingdom’s Prosperity Fund under the umbrella of the WCO’s Trade Facilitation in Middle Income Countries Programme (TFMICs).

Objectives of the webinars

The purpose of this webinar series is to create a platform for sharing and collecting international best practices relating to the role of Customs HR professionals in managing the COVID-19 crisis and potentially future similar crises. The key takeaways from the webinars will provide:

  • An up-to-date perspective of the crisis from the HR stand point;
  • Practical people management and development measures that can be applied immediately to drive the Customs operations towards success (learning and development, health and safety, wellbeing and resilience at work, work organization and design, teleworking, communication, staff performance monitoring and evaluation, etc.);
  • Lessons learned and experiences sharing after this period of health crisis;
  • A look at the future of HR and Customs operations after recovery.