Getting your organization ready for the Post Lockdown Era
We are all living in era of uncertainty, confusion and a lot of emotional distress thinking and planning for the post lockdown era. With all the constant bombarding on media, news channels and just about everyone having an opinion, people coming into work post the lockdown phase will be confused, scared and unsure of how to go about their work routines. It is here, that organizations and leaders will have to play a crucial role in easing employee anxieties, creating a culture that is open and adaptable and where people can express their fears openly and seek solutions.
The new work culture will have employees demanding more flexible work hours, refusing to travel both domestic and international, the compensation for the work from home category being skewed compared to a dedicated office worker…these and a lot more are going to have to be worked out by organizations post the lockdown phase. The business leaders and the HR fraternity have to be prepared for a changed or modified workplace scenario.
While there are no set standards or methods here are a few such pointers and questions that the leaders of the organization can be prepared with:
1. Is my organization and my employees safe and I taking enough care to keep the office
It is the responsibility of the leader to ensure that sanitizers are kept at various locations in the office, procuring thermal scanning sensors if necessary and of course making wearing of masks compulsory. Monitoring all these aspects through an HR policy and enforcing them through disciplinary measures is a very vital aspect that HR and the organizational leaders will have to enforce. Employees should stay home or go home if they have symptoms of coronavirus infection. Given the threat this epidemic presents, managers shouldn’t hesitate to send employees who present with Covid-19 symptoms home.
2. Is my organization prepared to have employees working from home if required even in
the post lockdown period? Can I do away with multiple meetings?
In the future, it will be important for offices to have flexible ways and methods of working enabling offices to have minimal staff thus minimizing the risk of spread. It will be worthwhile for organizations moving forward to invest in infrastructure, network connectivity, software/ tools and HR policies to facilitate a smooth work from home policy.
Deploying tracking tools and workflow management software and making the organization digitally savvy is surely going to be the order of the day in the times to come. A question that is vital to ask in these times. Ascertain the need for meetings, the frequency of meetings, the social distancing measures during the meeting, and if more importantly, if the meeting can be held virtually within the office itself or over an email communication chain.
3. How much to communicate? Am I over communicating or under communicating?
The assumption that knowing less will keep employee’s worries and insecurities at bay is not the right one. Nothing could be further from the truth. In times like these, it is always better to communicate transparently and sensitively about the financial health of the organization and what might be in store for them. Let’s face it – in times like these, once businesses restart and business goals are revised with the current economic situation in mind, some organizations are forced to take harsh business decisions. Some in the form of pay cuts, unpaid leaves or even retrenchment of staff. While these are inevitable, what can make the difference is the way the leadership communicates them to the organization, especially those affected by it. While the tendency is to be soft and protective, care should be taken to see that no false statements or promises are made which can be confusing and counterproductive to employees in the long run.
4. Do I need to update my customers, partners and vendors as well? How much do I share with my stakeholders?
An organization which communicates internally as well as externally to its shareholders, customers and partners is always viewed as transparent, ethical and sensitive. The more organizations use social media, websites and other digital platforms to keep the external stakeholders and the community at large informed about their business, the more engaged and responsible the internal employees would also feel. What is needed at this stage is empathy and not aggressive selling tactics, and to focus on what will be impacted in a sensitive and transparent manner. For internal employees, it is a matter of pride to be associated with such an organization.
5. Are my employees mentally healthy and can I help in de stressing them?
Organizations will have to, going forward, invest more time and resources in looking after the mental health of the employees through counseling, workshops and even psychological interventions if need be. In addition to having a motivated and healthy workforce, the brand image of an organization that is concerned about the mental well- being of its employees is also definitely higher, and in the times ahead, this is going to be a crucial factor in the business world.
While these are some of the policy related and operational changes that businesses will have to work with, the larger issue is that of an attitudinal shift in the way leaders communicate the vision and purpose of the organization (rethink and reword if required), what kind of a culture do they want in organizations and how will employees be managed and nurtured with reworked performance measures, career growth opportunities and work life balance initiatives.
Here’s a quick list of action points for an organization to implement post the lockdown phase:
1. Re-purpose the vision, business goals and organizational objectives and communicate them clearly across the organization.
2. Re-enforce sanitization and hygiene measures in the workplace and carry out as many sensitization sessions, as needed.
3. Re-work on the format of internal communications, and meetings, keeping social distancing and employee safety in the forefront. Consider implementing a WFH policy across the organization for a certain percentage of the workforce to avoid crowding.
4. Re-solve to communicate and communicate openly with your employees, partners and all the stakeholders.
5. Re-affirm that the health of your employees is paramount. Counsel, communicate and collaborate with trained counselors and HR to create a healthy and sound workforce.
This is a huge opportunity for businesses of all kinds and size to take a deeper and wider look into their purpose, realign organizational processes and people practices and come out of this phase with better, healthier and purposeful employees.
It truly is an era of huge challenges, uncertainties but also a time of limitless possibilities, a time for the leadership to shine through by setting an example of humanity, sensitivity and nurturing the workforce for newer and greater heights.
– Written by Sandhya Bhat, Strategic Human Resources Consultant
Sandhya is an Independent Human Resources consultant, with over 20 years of experience in Human Resources, focussed on collaborating with organisations to provide strategic HR solutions and interventions.