By Jeff Cochran
Much like parenting, the stock market and folding a fitted sheet, there is no instruction manual for preparing your employees to work in the COVID-19 (or even post-COVID-19) world.
It has been more than 100 years since a pandemic like this has taken hold in our nation. Considering how much business operations have evolved since then, the amount of relevant guidance we can glean is limited to say the least. Add in the fact that every industry, company and region is different, and you have a lot of question marks and very few exclamation points. However, just because there isn’t a step-by-step instruction manual to navigating your workforce through COVID-19 doesn’t mean there isn’t any guidance at all.
In fact, there are many standard practices that can have an even greater impact now than ever before regardless of whether you are working toward a safe re-entry to a physical office or are considering a transition to a virtual workspace long-term.
Prioritize your people’s safety
This may seem like it should go without saying, but it is important enough to repeat. The top priority of any business during COVID-19 should be the safety of its employees. If employees feel their leaders are taking shortcuts with their health and well-being, productivity and engagement will suffer before work even gets started.
Speak directly to employees
Any decision you make about re-engaging your workforce during this pandemic should be measured and well-informed. It is critical to understand how your employees are feeling – what has them worried and what would make them feel safer? Ask them these questions directly, whether through small meetings or surveys, and use their responses to guide your actions and decisions. Ensuring employees feel heard can have a tangible, positive impact on overall morale.
Your employees are not one-size-fits-all. During this pandemic, everyone has their own unique set of complications, concerns and conditions. Finding one solution that will work for everyone is not just a tall order: it’s an impossible one. Instead, offer your employees options. This lets them know you are considering their unique needs and are committed to helping them feel both safe and engaged.
It has been difficult to predict the nuances of such constant change, requiring companies to stay alert and flexible. We receive more information and new guidance seemingly every day. As such, any plan for re-engaging your workforce should be written in pencil, not pen, and should include alternate plans in case conditions change and adjustments need to be made on the fly.
The good news is this: Even if your company needs to remain physically distant, you don’t have to remain disconnected. Whatever solution you identify for the next phase of COVID-19, embracing these philosophies and leveraging strategic communication will help your company and your employees rally together to overcome a universally challenging situation.
If you need some guidance, our communications experts have created a roadmap for how to engage your workforce during and after the pandemic.
Here are the steps we recommend:
- Assess how your workforce is handling the pandemic.
- Identify the approaches that will work best for you.
- Craft your message.
- Look ahead to the future.
Maneuvering through this new business reality doesn’t require rigid rules and protocols. It demands dynamic thinking and agile tactics, which happen to be our specialty at KWI. Let us help guide you and your employees to a new workforce strategy that will work now and when “normal” feels a little more … normal.
We may even have some tips on folding that dang fitted sheet.
Download the complete guide: