Many organizations were compelled to make substantial modifications in a matter of weeks to keep the business running due to nationwide lockdowns, strict social distancing norms and several other safety measures that were required. One such important task was to switch gears from offline to online working. Clearly, it was not an easy shift for leaders as well as employees. Both had to quickly adopt video conferencing tools for seamless interactions and making their presence felt across teams and senior management.
Amidst this unexpected change, which has now become a mainstream practice around the world, two pivotal elements have gone missing: personal touch and empathy. This is the reason why people management teams (HRs) need to rethink their strategies and ensure that employees stay connected, engaged and motivated throughout this work from home (WFH) phase.
So, in this context, what are the aspects that HR leaders should cover to ensure seamless business continuity?
Any organization is run by its employees. And it is the onus of employers to ensure that they work in a safe environment and remain healthy throughout their working cycle. With the advent of COVID-19, health has become even more important. Therefore, many companies have started expanding their employee health cover by including COVID-19-related problems and thus providing financial aid against expenses that an employee might incur due to the coronavirus infection or post illness care.
In line with the same approach, companies have also initiated organizing vaccination drives across various branches. This is aimed at vaccinating employees as fast as possible and also spreading awareness around the importance of the vaccine in addition to other safety protocols like social distancing and frequent sanitization. Similarly, a few companies as part of the same mission have started providing RT-PCR tests and COVID care kits at employees’ doorstep while also ensuring sanitized cab services to employees for a safer commute.
While many believe that working from home is very comfortable for employees as they are getting all of the time to spend with their families, it’s a myth. To be honest, WFH is even more difficult as employees have to manage both their home chores as well as office deadlines. Burnouts during this time have become routine for most employees as the line between personal and professional lives has somehow got blurred, leading to a spike in the number of people facing mental health problems.
To address this challenge, many companies have started taking multiple initiatives like collaborating with healthcare providers to offer 24x7 support to employees, hosting online wellbeing sessions with health experts to discuss problems and spread awareness around the growing importance of this subject especially during the ongoing global crisis, offering additional time-off to rejuvenate from stress and monotony, etc. Bolstering health infrastructure is a necessity to remain fit and healthy amid this dark hour, and leaders must ensure this at every point possible.
This is good news as well as a great initiative that companies across the globe have started hiring candidates for various roles even during the pandemic through virtual interviews. According to a recent report, 60% of the companies that were surveyed showed positive interest in hiring talent for new positions in 2021..Although 2020 was a dark time for companies and more so for employees as many had either lost jobs or experienced huge salary cuts. However, as the world advances and acclimatizes to the new world order, employers are actively looking at restarting their recruitment processes and hiring employees across India. Times are uncertain and virtual hiring is a new trend that is going to stay even beyond the pandemic.
Tap into the Power of Collective Intelligence
With the new normal slowly and steadily becoming a part of our everyday life, leaders must start collaborating with employees at various levels. Instead of focusing on control, norms, and hierarchies, now is the time to focus on interpersonal relationships. If a plethora of problems arrives, always look at the most valuable asset in the organization: the employees. Companies should trust their staff, utilize their strengths, assist and engage with them via brainstorming solutions for work, continued engagement, and further support. In a nutshell, the need of the hour is to see the light of collective intelligence.
Living through the pandemic, companies have figured out how to tackle unexpected events like this and therefore continue to move forward with more confidence. In order to keep the employees closely knit, companies should invest in a flexible and easily accessible communications system to keep them together.
Focusing on the aforementioned will help leaders continue running their businesses profitably and successfully. On top of this, they should follow a simple mantra, that is, to be agile and empathetic throughout their professional journeys, and that way they can weather any struggle or hurdle with or without the pandemic.