Managing Your Workforce During a Crisis
Category • 5 Min Read
Needless to say, businesses are rebooting as we try to emerge out of the prolonged lockdown situation. With social distancing becoming the new normal, companies are adapting to new ways of working. At this time of crisis, HR leaders need to step up to manage their workforce better. When most of the employees are feeling overwhelmed amidst the pandemic, they need to be dealt with a lot of empathy, handholding, and guidance in the right direction to help everyone emerge stronger from this calamitic situation. Here are some insights that will help you to lead from the front.
Your employees are eager to know about the recent situations and developments, the changing business scenarios, and what to expect in the coming days. With so much information floating around, it is overwhelming for them to trust which one to believe and which one to let go. In such a scenario, employers are seen as a trustworthy source by the employees. So, the onus lies on you to keep your employees well-informed about the pandemic situation, the do’s and don’ts, protocols to follow, and finally how the business is foreseeing the future. Leverage different internal communication platforms like emails, company intranet, virtual town halls, Slack channels, etc to reach your employees for effective communication. Remember, when employees are well-informed, they are calm and relaxed to focus more on work.
Remote working is not a new concept. But in the current situation, when a majority of the employees are operating from home, it requires a lot of guidance on how to adapt to this new situation. Offer guidance and training to the managers so that they can manage their teams better. For example, when we communicate in person, the non-verbal communication ( body language, hand movements, gestures) plays an important role in delivering the message. With that being absent, it is important to understand even more about email etiquette and how to conduct virtual communication. A sharp email may be seen as an aggressive communication, in the absence of nonverbal communication which may lead to unwelcome situations. So, it is important especially for managers and supervisors to learn to communicate in the right manner when working remotely.
Ensure your remote workforce has access to all the remote working tools and they are well-trained to use them. While work from home is not uncommon, there is no reason to think that everyone is familiar with it. If needed, arrange a session on how to set up a virtual meeting using platforms like Zoom or Skype or how to create a channel on Slack for internal team communications or how to stay organized with project management tools like Trello. Make use of the technologies and ensure your employees are using it too.
Above all else, your employees now need a lot of empathy and flexibility. Some of them might need to take care of a toddler or a family member and may ask for flexible timing. Somebody may want to work early in the morning while late evening may work for some after putting the toddler to sleep. Also, re-examine the task lists at hand and prioritize between essential and non-essential tasks so that the employees have some breather time.
The pandemic is taking a toll on everyone’s mental health. With the prolonged lockdown situation and no help around, there is a lot to do both at work and at home. Understand your employees are stressed and overwhelmed. Help them unwind by arranging some relaxing virtual sessions on yoga, sketching, storytelling, learning, and developments, etc. Encourage your employees to speak up and set up an online counselling session if needed. Be accessible at all times should anyone need someone to talk to.
This is the time to show that you care for your employees. A Gartner report mentions that the desire to get recognized during these challenging times among the employees has increased by 30 percent. So, take out time to recognize an employee who has walked the extra mile. Or, send out a personalized note appreciating him/her for the efforts made. Recognition motivates which is much needed at this tough hour and also sends out a strong motivating message to the other employees. Read here about different ways to keep your employees motivated.
Remote working may disrupt the team bond and connectivity. To keep your employees engaged and connected, plan a weekly FaceTime with the teams through some fun engagement activities. For example, let each employee take a turn and give a virtual tour of his house, or play some fun guessing games, and have a good laugh together.
Managing your workforce during this crisis might look difficult, but practicing the above tips consciously will help you to emerge out stronger. Finally, maintain transparency at all points of time and the rest will fall in place.
After spending over a decade in Corporate Communications, Chayanika started second innings of her career as a Communications Consultant, Content Marketer, and Freelance Writer. She writes on different topics including HR, lifestyle, travel, parenting, digital marketing and mental health. Chayanika is a part of the WritelySo team where she writes engaging content for the readers. When not writing, Chayanika is usually exploring new places with her husband and daughter.
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