At the moment it feels like there could be no end to the uncertainty. It will pass. We know this.
When we start to get back to normal, we will all need to recruit, re-train and re-engage our people. There will be some organisations where trust needs to be rebuilt, there will be some organisations where employee engagement has never been stronger.
Every organisation has reacted. Some had to make roles redundant, some are using the government support packages to their full potential, some are getting by on their own - but every organisation on the planet has reacted.
Some made the move to put as much online as possible. For some organisations that has worked, some are already planning how and when they can re-introduce face to face development. Some have found a really clear path for a mix of the two.
When your people are back in the office, re-connecting with face to face contact and when new people are being recruited into your organisation, L&D have a clear job to do.
Before the crisis, engagement was bad. During the crisis many of us have tried really hard to communicate, to involve and to reassure. Don't let that momentum go. Everything that you've been doing over the past month has been valuable. Your people have soaked it up and if you continue on that path you might finally see the uplift in engagement that every organisation craves.
If we think our response to the crisis was reactionary, wait until you see the reaction to lifting of restrictions, the recovery of the economy, the recruitment supercharge that will come our way. Are you ready for that?
Here's what I think you should be considering right now, in readiness for that upturn:
1. Onboarding through the employees lens
New colleagues to a business (or existing employees that have been away for a while) will need some orientation into the business. Business practices may have evolved, a new world order may have taken over - the way you welcome people into your business will be key. We've worked on a wide variety of onboarding approaches - and none of them include 400 powerpoint slides with pictures of the board... #justsaying
2. Wellbeing is paramount
Many of your colleagues will have been adversely impacted by Covid-19. They may have lost those dear to them, they may have experienced their own mental health challenges whilst isolating, they may have thrived in isolation and be anxious about returning to work. Whatever their motivation, we all have a duty of care for our colleagues’ wellbeing. Get conversations started, and provide the channels your people need to be able to share their feelings and seek support where needed.
I believe we all need to remember that being furloughed won't have suited everyone. Lots of your workforce will have struggled with their feeling of worth during any furloughed period. Take time now to show these people how their commitment in the troubled times will really have supported the long term sustainability of the business.
3. Working from home is NOT a benefit, it's business as usual
We've proved that the economy doesn't fall apart of you do a conference call at home in your pyjamas. So many employers either discouraged working from home, or insisted on micro-managing anyone that chose to do it. We've proved that flexibility in location is valuable. We've come to realise that the office was kind of cool too - and we miss it. How about giving people a balance between the two? On a personal level, I love being in the office because I get to spend time with my colleagues. I've also noticed just how much more work I get done from home. So I'm going to work from home at least one day a week in the future, when it’s all back to normal.
4. Balance is everything
We've seen people work full time, home-school full time, keep the house on track full time - and the flexibility we've afforded them to be able to do that has worked. Finding balance in the future way of working will be a key focus for many of your people - give them the tools they need to be able to run their lives better. They will thank you for it with loyalty and discretionary effort.
5. What's important now?
When a sense of normality returns we will be presented with a great opportunity to restate what is important to our organisation. We can re-share our values and re-engage all of our people in those values - along with our purpose and mission. At Acceler8 'Be Happy. Be Human.' has never felt so powerful. Thats been our purpose for a long time - and right now it's keeping all of us focussed. Priorities might be slightly different as the world of business is changing. Are all those travel heavy meetings really worth it? Can we continue to use the technology we've embraced to spend less time travelling and more time 'being'?
None of us really know what the future looks like - change will continue at pace as it always does. What might be different is how we choose to respond to it and how we make the most of the opportunities that are presented to us.
I know what my plan is. Do you?
Footnote: this post was written and scheduled 31st March 2020.