For the past several weeks, we have been moving at a fast and furious pace to wrap our arms around COVID-19. Everyone was scrambling to understand the new legislative alphabet soup and its impact (e.g., FFCRA, CARES, SBA, PPP, PPE, PUC), to pivot to a predominantly remote workforces, to execute pandemic plans, to modify physical work environments of essential businesses and to manage the many and varied concerns of employees.
And today, while we are all still in the midst of navigating the “now,” conversation has turned to moving forward with discussions about what “tomorrow” looks like for our organizations. The following are just a few of the topics for discussion:
- What modifications, if any, will we need to make to our physical environment to maintain appropriate social distancing?
- Given success at working remotely, what type of alternative work arrangements will we need to embrace moving forward?
- Can our infrastructure support our new business environment?
- Will our employees want to come to work? How will we allay their potential fear and anxiety?
- What type of screening will we do for employees returning to work?
- What will our hiring practices look like?
Whatever our decisions, we need to be mindful of how those changes and approaches will impact the employee experience.
In the end, our employees will continue to be our most significant differentiator in the services we provide and the markets we serve. Our employees will continue to be our most important asset. Qualified talent will continue to be in short supply — particularly when the skills needed to be effective in remote and virtual environment will be different. Finding qualified talent was a struggle for many just a few short months ago. Remember January’s unemployment rate of 3.6%? It is simply surreal to think that a mere four months later that we are approaching 20%, if not already exceeding it when all factors are considered.
But, don’t let that number fool you. In my humble opinion, when the economy turns (and the optimist in me says it will) we will be all hands-on deck trying to bring back our employees. Many employers will be seeking employees and they will be attempting to woo your employees away.
As I reflect on the prior employee experience blogs, our millennial blogger and our baby boomer blogger had consistent themes that we all need to take into consideration when creating our path forward. First, we need to address concerns around health and wellness. COVID-19 has brought this front and center and I don’t see it abating anytime soon and I can’t imagine it will be back to “business as usual” anytime soon.
Second, we need to craft alternative work arrangements that appeal to all of the generations. Many who thought they’d like to work from home are finding they miss face-to-face interactions at work; and for many who thought they could never work from home, are finding that they can, and even enjoy it.
Third, employees have concern with financial security. While an organization can not make promises or guarantees, know this is a concern for employees. Fourth, demonstrate patience. In a time when we are likely all out of patience, patience and compassion is key.
Finally, fifth, take a moment to reinforce that we are all, in fact, in this together. And together is how we create the path forward.
Read the rest of the series:
The Employee Experience – Through the eyes of a Baby Boomer
The Employee Experience – Through the eyes of a millennial
The Employee Experience: A new language in times of uncertainty
The Employee Experience: Emphasis in each generation