The most radical and immediate impact of COVID-19 has been on people. New ways of working have put increased pressure on managers and their teams. Lockdowns and remote working have blurred the lines between business and professional lives and brought to the fore the physical and mental wellbeing of workforces. Health, morale, the working environment, skills and productivity are critical issues and meeting those challenges is a priority.
Manage back to work performance
For those businesses needing their staff to be location-based, the priority is to provide a safe environment with appropriate self-distancing measures. However, as people return to their workplaces, they also need managerial guidance and clarity to get them back on track. When people get distracted by what’s changing around them, when they are unclear, confused or feel insecure, they lose focus – and this negatively affects performance. Therefore, it has to be clear what’s changing and why, how the change impacts both them personally and their team, they will spend more time distracted and not be as productive. With the negative impact that COVID-19 has already had, businesses have to get back to capacity and performance as soon as possible. However, well-executed change can have a positive impact. If approached with thoughtful planning and meaningful engagement, change can be an opportunity to ‘build back better’.
Consider outsourcing specific roles
With many businesses reluctant to bring in new permanent staff, it is expected that there will be a growing demand for outsourcing. As organizations take on the endeavor to become lean, organizations will now look at outsourcing services. Rather than hiring a team of specialist marketers, for example, using an agency is more flexible until there is more certainty.
Revisit your wellbeing policies
A large proportion of employees are now working more or fully remotely, mental wellbeing – more easily monitored under face-to-face settings – is a growing concern for businesses. We need to think carefully about how we can redeploy human capital as a critical component to our economic recovery. While many people across the generations, feel isolated or that their sense of purpose has diminished. A happy and healthy workforce equals productive and profitable employees. One of the things organizations can do is to look at how robust or present any wellbeing offering or strategy is in their organizations. Organizations need to recognize, the impact of wellbeing on the workforce and ultimately the bottom line. And then they should work through a process that ensures organizationally the business systematically checks in with all staff on a regular basis to make sure that they’re okay and provide support.
Don’t ignore your business culture and values
With so many businesses focused on survival, it is not surprising that culture has slipped off the radar. There’s not enough attention paid to the importance of core values, to the importance of a mission and vision statement, and how organizations treat their people, how they do their business. It’s not just from an employee point of view, but also a shareholder and customer perspective.
Employees in organizations that neglected their staff during the lockdown are sitting tight because they can see the market is flooded with jobless people. If staff are unhappy, they’re staying put because it’s all they’ve got at the moment. This isn’t healthy from a productivity, cultural, or wellbeing point of view.
Being able to communicate sincerely and genuinely, to both your staff and wider stakeholders is critical. Businesses need to be more transparent in their communications. When people worry about their jobs, it’s important to say: ‘this is an insight as to what our financials look like right now.’ You don’t have to give them chapter and verse. You can deliver it in a way that people in the room will understand and what it means to them. Because the ‘what does this mean to me’ factor is what people are most interested in.
Rethink your skills strategy for a post-COVID world
The new challenges COVID-19 poses for businesses require new skills to deal with them. The pandemic is forcing organizations to snap out of an antiquated way of teaching people, to embrace technology, and adopt a much more inclusive approach to upskilling and reskilling people of all ages, across all communities. While upskilling has a positive motivational impact on employees, by thinking now about teams’ future skill requirements, businesses can position themselves strongly. With some roles having changed drastically to adjust to circumstances, the crisis has allowed people to develop new skills and identify where they fall short. Organizations need to adapt and be agile and see the opportunity through positive lenses.
A disengaged, demotivated and distant team is akin to putting the wrong fuel in the car. A retuning exercise, based on proactive communication, transparency, core values and an evaluation of skills can help ensure your people are optimized for the race ahead.