Does your organization stand ready to meet business objectives during COVID-19? To say that the COVID-19 pandemic has been a disruption would be drastically understating the reality of the situation for many businesses. The scale of disruption is virtually unprecedented.
From mandating schools and colleges to shut down to forcing businesses to furlough significant portions of their workforce, nobody has escaped the far-reaching effects of the pandemic. However, as businesses cautiously begin to accept and operate under the new normal, it is essential to examine your workforce strategy and determine if it is still applicable in a post-COVID world. This blog will attempt to show you how to do exactly that.
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Adapting Your Workforce Strategy to COVID-19
The vast majority of the global workforce has been affected by the ongoing pandemic. Billions have either been laid off or forced to work from home as businesses shut down. Understandably, most businesses’ first response was to ensure the safety and well-being of their human resources. With an entirely new virus and the high degree of uncertainty, contradictions, and confusion surrounding the disease, most businesses had no choice except to either opt for work from home models or simply shutting down operations.
While flexibility in terms of work hours and remote working has been an attractive draw to most younger candidates, with whom most staffing agencies deal, it is unlikely that any of them expected it to be a long-term, mandatory measure. However, the response seems to have worked as well as can be expected under the circumstances. Millions have been infected, but if businesses had continued as usual without taking extreme measures, the infection rate, and possibly the fatality rate, may have been many times greater. The problem is, businesses are now exiting the pandemic response stage and entering the recovery stage.
Very few businesses have seen increased profitability during this time. Most have either experienced slowed earnings or even a drop in earnings. Amid such trying times, businesses need to evaluate their existing workforce and talent acquisition strategies to make sure they are appropriate for satisfying this new normal. While the specifics and the final shape of your new and agile strategy depend on the specifics of your firm, the following areas may be good places to start:
- Reflect on Your Pandemic Response
- Recommit to Employee Well-Being
- Re-engage With Your Workforce
- Rethink Your Workforce Structure and Policies
- Reprioritize Your HR Objectives
Let’s examine these areas in more detail below.
Reflect on Your Pandemic Response
The first part of the COVID-19 recovery phase involves leaders reflecting on their response to the pandemic, consistent with what is known about the virus. The idea is to examine measures that worked as well as those measures that have failed. Invest time in evaluating the relative strengths and flaws of your initial COVID-19 response, as well as that of comparable competitors within your industry or niche.
This will form a foundation from which you can extrapolate and build a workforce strategy that is more appropriate to the current situation. It is important to emphasize here that reflection needs to be a deliberate, dedicated effort, which may require you to face certain hard truths. Without it, however, most recovery efforts will be shaky and uncertain at best.
Recommit to Employee Well-Being
Nobody foresaw the rapid spread of the coronavirus, on a scale that transcends both man-made and natural borders. For most people, the past year has been something out of a doomsday film. The fear, uncertainty, and stress have had a massive impact on the working population as well as their dependents. Human evolution made us social beings from almost the very beginning. We aren’t built to live in long-term isolation. However, given the slim chances of a quick vaccine solution, it may well prove that we have to learn to live with it for the near term.
Businesses need to prioritize the safety, well-being, and good health of their workforce. Looking at expanding medical coverage to include psychotherapy and medication could prove to be a morale booster as well as a symbol of commitment to your workforce in uncertain times. But you will also need to look at policy and workplace changes. Establish clear guidelines for social distancing for your team and any third-party services that help with employee intake, such as engineering staffing agencies.
Re-Engage With Your Workforce
As businesses gradually begin to recover, most of them will look to redeploy workers who have been laid off or, who were working remotely. Management of your on-site workforce will now have to account for social distancing and safety laws. Likely, you will need to adopt a hybrid strategy, where a portion of your workforce can remain safely onsite while others can work remotely. The objective is to ensure business workflows continue to operate with limited interruption while re-engaging your workforce with meaningful assignments and projects.
It is important to allow your employees time to readjust to a regular routine after an extended period of being furloughed, laid off, or working remotely. It may also be a good time to get in touch with staffing solution experts (such as telecom staffing) in order to augment your ranks. The job market has been reset; access to many experienced candidates who might otherwise have not been looking for employment is at a high. Making the right staffing decisions early on will put you in a position to acquire the best talent before your competition.
Rethink Your Workforce Structure and Policies
Most smart businesses have formalized employee handbooks that serve as the primary source of information on workforce policies and protocols. Emerging in a professional landscape ravaged by the COVID-19 situation, businesses need to understand that the circumstances have changed drastically. Employees can’t be managed with a handbook that predates the COVID-19 pandemic.
This implies, in most cases, a massive overhaul of company policies and procedures with respect to workplace rules and guidelines. The key here is to create a safe workplace for employees that is upgraded in keeping with the new restrictions and bottlenecks imposed by the pandemic.
Reprioritize Your HR Objectives
The final step to prepare for successful business recovery involves a reboot of your HR objectives and priorities. The core objective is always to source, screen, acquire, and retain top talent, but this objective needs to be recalibrated in light of the new normal. This may well prove to be a pivotal moment for HR functions across the globe.
There are two key areas on which a reprioritization of objectives should focus. The first is with the development of faster, more efficient, and safer ways to acquire candidates, such as through specialized manufacturing staffing firms. This will also involve rethinking the HR function itself, adapting to digital platforms, and employing COVID-safe onboarding and retention methods.
Another key element of reprioritization involves an analysis of worker compensations and benefits. Labor laws and compliance guidelines have undergone massive changes since the virus officially became a pandemic. Repositioning your HR objectives and policies accordingly is essential for recovery.