Director of Product Marketing, HR & Payroll, Sage Group PLC
In a world of constant change and uncertainty, how can businesses adapt – and survive – by creating greater workforce stability?
The world is in a constant state of flux
The only constant in life is change. That’s never been truer in 2020, with COVID-19 mounting a serious challenge for businesses and their employees. From adhering to lockdown requirements to adopting new work processes at speed, adaptation has been at the top of the agenda.
The world of work is changing at an incredible pace
According to Sage’s Survival, Resilience and Growth report, 64% of SMEs are concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their employees’ engagement levels with work. And you can see why. Work and personal lives have collided, with flexible working becoming the norm. Collaboration between colleagues is almost entirely virtual. The goalposts have been moved.
People need safety, security and support (with mental health and wellbeing being two priorities for both employees and businesses alike) – and one place they’re going to seek that is at work, where they spend so much of their time.
So how can businesses create stability and security for the workforce amid this wave of uncertainty caused by the pandemic?
How to help your people adapt, survive and thrive
1. Enable remote working for your employees
Make it easy for people to work from home. Ensure your employees have the tools they need to optimise productivity. Software can help you provide access to key resources. But just as importantly, consider how you might help your people create an ideal physical working environment, with equipment (and even plants!) that they might use in the office.
2. Create a sense of connection and belonging
Communication and connection are always harder when it’s largely remote. In order to maintain trust and a community environment keep employees informed and engaged with regular updates. Ensure communication is two-way; ask employees how they are doing, and if they need support. Personalise the communications where possible, creating a greater sense of connection.
The only constant in life is change. That’s never been truer in 2020, with COVID-19 mounting a serious challenge for businesses and their employees.
3. Make flexible working easy and guilt-free
Employees are having to juggle additional burdens in their personal lives, such as childcare, caring for dependants, and supporting vulnerable and elderly people. They need more flexibility in how they work, so they can manage both work and personal duties. Demonstrate trust in your employees and remove any negative stigma there might be around ‘working from home’. Don’t make them feel guilty if they have to miss a meeting because they’ve got to collect their kids from school. Flexible working schedules and patterns can be invaluable to employees during this time.
4. Set achievable work goals
It’s simply not realistic to expect employees to work at 100% capacity and productivity at the moment. Refrain from counting the minutes and hours that they work. Instead, consider spending more time on establishing clear, realistic and achievable outcomes for them to achieve. Give them flexibility in how and when they achieve these.
5. Know who’s available to work, and when
Amid all this flux, businesses still need to know who is available to work. Who’s self-isolating? Who has the virus? Whose turn is it to watch the kids? Businesses will benefit by knowing who is working and when, and where the pinch points are in meeting deadlines. Capture, track and manage when your people are available and working, so you can plan your business efficiently.
The only constant in life is change
We’ll continue to experience significant change and uncertainty for some time. But despite this, there’s still a lot that businesses can do to create stability and security for its workforce. And by doing so, they’ll give their businesses (and people) the best chance of success to be prepared for changes yet to come.