In the scramble to keep your business going amid the disruption of the pandemic, finding the best ways to adapt to short- and long-term changes can be a challenge. But when it comes down to it, your workforce is priority number one—both client-facing and remote staff.
“Employers need to ensure there is a work-safe protocol in place, with specific guidelines, and that employees are provided with the proper equipment and materials when interacting with clients—including, of course, masks and shields,” says Anthony Ariganello, president and CEO of Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada (CPHR).
When it comes to remote staff, keeping them motivated is also a top priority. Your staff needs to not just cope, but perform—and think fast on their feet, as the need for innovative ideas becomes increasingly important. Managing work, a family and children that are not in school, all from the kitchen table, can wear people out, no matter how organized they appear to be.
Inspire your team to share
Ariganello feels that businesses have to find new ways to keep remote staff engaged and connected. Being transparent with staff and fostering trust is critical, as is encouraging—and expecting—growth, both professional and personal.
“Many businesses have turned to having social network gatherings remotely, via either Zoom or WebEx, such as having weekly coffee breaks with all staff and in some cases having contests among colleagues so that employees can participate interactively,” he says.
“For example, in our business, we conducted monthly wellness challenges whereby we asked associates to post pictures of what activities keep them physically, mentally and emotionally well, so that they can win a prize. This has really helped our staff stay engaged and collected as a unit.”
Regarding employees’ mental well-being, having regular meetings and discussions about what preoccupies them is very helpful.
“Talking about positive news that folks have to share, which they can all relate to, is always a benefit,” Ariganello says. “Employers should also ensure they have adequate employment assistance programs in place for employees to turn to if they are feeling unwell.”
Frequent “touch-bases” between management and the client-facing employees is also a must.
Stay one step ahead
While small businesses are focused on adapting to change, skill or knowledge gaps may surface within their teams. These gaps need to be recognized and bridged quickly. Many organizations have tapped into online learning, using webinars and symposiums to provide training and professional development.
The real goal is to keep looking for new ways and new operating models that promote innovation and reward resilience. You need to be as creative as possible to keep employees calm, comfortable and focused.
“As we don’t live in a static environment, it’s important to stay ahead of the game and stay informed as to what changes and recommendations are being brought forth by government and health officials,” Ariganello says.
“Having regular meetings to discuss options and plans for a variety of scenarios is a must, so that organizations can pivot properly and support staff as best as possible.”
Continuity and flexibility always need to be top of mind in any plans you make, as the status of the pandemic evolves both globally and locally. And by working together with all staff to solve problems as they arise, everyone can take comfort from being on the same page of the playbook.