by Eric Magbaleta, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CPHR
The current global health event has changed the way we go about our daily routines and don’t believe anyone could have foreseen its impact both at home as well as the workplace. Leaders are reacting to the unstable work environment as fast as possible with very little time to plan. Many are used to operating a certain way and this new normal has caused quite a bit of disruption. Are organizations open and ready to adapt for how we do business in this VUCA environment?
Renew Remote or Virtual Work
Many organizations around the world are finding themselves new or having to expand to remote or virtual work with reliance on it now more than ever before. For those jobs or tasks that were geared more to the traditional office environment are now being performed at locations other than a physical office; shifting the mindset where work now can be carried out elsewhere. Not just temporarily but into the foreseeable future. With this shift, new issues come about such as leaders now having to manage remote or virtual teams, impact on culture, and even alterations to workflow and processes. Even with some of those modifications, the key will be to maintain productivity and minimizing impact to stakeholders. Early returns show that productivity has remained the same if not increased in some cases. And while many may appreciate the flexibility it’s still not for everyone. Rest assured this will be the new norm and likely continue to grow.
Revive and Recruit Specialty Roles
With this new norm in how work is accomplished, organizations will need more from their teams. This will give rise to a different type of worker, one that is more of a specialist than a generalist. Generalists tend to possess a broad range of knowledge across various disciplines in their area of expertise. Specialists on the other hand possess technical expertise in a focus area which typically takes time to learn or difficult to teach; hence, are valued more. Specialists invest their time and effort honing their specific niche. When sourcing for these specialists, keep in mind the specific requirements needed for the work to be performed. While a degree may be important, don’t look past the soft skills such as agility, problem solving, and communication particularly in a virtual environment. You can still supplement your workforce with specialty contingent or temporary workers, but when budgets are tight these are the first groups of individuals to go. The battle for specialized skills just became more expensive and the war for talent will continue to remain very competitive.
Re-energize Employees through Wellbeing
Keeping employees safe as well as productive has become more complicated in today’s environment. Because companies are moving quickly, it is a good time to do a quick review of relevant policies. Temporarily amend travel policies (if you haven’t already) and limit business essential travel to limit exposure. Consider modifying cap limits, increase accruals or adjust carryover balances with PTO policies. Update visitor policies by designating common areas, limiting duration of the visit, and emphasize social distancing. Even though many are taking extra precautions for those who continue to go into the workplace, it can still be stressful and take a physical and mental toll. Be sure to check in with each other on a regular basis as burnout is real. To help alleviate burnout encourage participation in community service programs. Volunteering can have a positive effect on mental and physical wellness and encourage healthy habits. In the midst of today’s climate in-person participation is likely limited, but there are other ways to remain involved.
Organizations from top to bottom are facing a spectrum of different challenges. Everything has changed and has imposed this new normal upon us. Leaders will need to continue to adapt and adjust their people strategies in order to maintain business continuity, remain competitive and maintain a reasonable level of success.