We have been put forth a challenge, unlike one ever seen by humankind before. The ripple effect of the global pandemic – COVID-19 has challenged us to be responsive to change and work with agility to overcome the crisis, while leading us to constantly deliberate, reflect, and adapt to new dynamics.
As lockdown restrictions have started to ease, the need for stricter physical distancing has become far greater. Companies have swiftly implemented crisis protocols and business continuity plans to deal with the unprecedented situation put ahead of us. Situations such as these, call for greater attention to fulfilling the commitment made to employees by maintaining healthy measures to protect their safety and wellbeing.
We know that it will not be ‘business as usual’ for a while. This makes it important for business leaders to effectively create an engaging and productive environment for employees. Doing so will enable employees to navigate through the stress, reconnect with each other, and foster trust. Here’s how leaders can build a resilient workforce through these four distinct strategies:
1. Clear and consistent communication
It becomes easy to lose track of teams as we resort to working remotely. Being cut off from the regular flow of work can disrupt operations. To overcome this challenge, the key is to communicate constantly and effectively which leads to better employee performance. Therefore, leaders must make a conscious effort to drive new avenues of communication and transcend information accurately. With constant communication top down, across teams and functions, leaders can reinforce certainty and extend support to employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
2. Effective engagement at the core of all operations
While consistent communication will ensure everyone is on the same page, effective engagement with employees will remind them of an organization’s commitment to always act in the best interest of people during this period. Uncertainty arises questions such as, are the teams adequately connected? Is existing technology enabling employees? Are employees well equipped with everything they need to be productive? Having quick solutions to make all necessary adjustments to such problems will minimize frustration amongst the workforce.
The need of the hour is for leaders to address the emotional impact the pandemic can have on employees. By introducing meaningful activities such as virtual recreational games, socializing events to keep schedules fun and interesting, and more, the leaders can improve team connectivity and drive a mutual sense of belonging.
3. Encourage a culture of care driven by the company’s purpose
Similar to how a rainy day tests the best of relationships, the pandemic has put to test the relationship between organizations and their employees. These testing times require leaders to revisit company values and purpose to bolster a sense of security. When detailing out the role of employees in the larger context of the organization’s common purpose, leaders need to provide a sense of care that anchors the belief that every employee is a valuable asset and is making a considerable difference to the overall organization. The culture and purpose of organizations play a vital role during these tough times. The way leaders conduct themselves with internal and external stakeholders showcases the values of the organization and demonstrates company values.
4. Invoke a sense of collaboration
Through collaboration, leaders can leverage the strength of ‘collective power’. Teamwork ensures proactive ownership and leads to better vigilance and responsiveness. This way, employees are better able to intimately associate with the institutional purpose than they would otherwise.
Collaboration empowers leaders to make informed and balanced decisions, resulting in a dynamic and agile work culture during a global pandemic. It also enables teams to keep the ball rolling, without being very dependent on leaders. As we navigate through this situation together, we must remind ourselves to explore newer ways to foster collaboration amongst employees across the organization, thus leading to definite, yet collective results.
In the face of the ongoing humanitarian crisis, it becomes important to evolve to newer sensibilities, which thus allows for the forging of a resilient workforce. By offering mental and occupational support to the employees, organizations can help build better workspaces and inherent cultures. HR and business heads should also constantly strive to invest in employee learning and development, which will enable building a robust workforce of the future. This on one hand will equip the employees to enhance their acumen, and on the other, enable businesses to constantly innovate for the future. This will allow enhancing productivity, enhance employee engagement, and forge a ubiquitous workforce that is ready for tomorrow’s challenges.