Almost all of us have been forced to stay and work at home in this battle against COVID-19. A large number of companies have been able to solve who to telecommute and who on vacation for a few days, in parallel they had to resolve employee connectivity issues and they are also working to further mitigate cyber-security risks.
With this, we can only realize that the future of work that we have been talking about for years is here. The skills to respond to this COVID -19 crisis imply that we are agile, flexible and we are also interacting virtually, things that less than two months ago still sounded like science fiction in some organizations.
As in any process of change, there are organizations and individuals more prepared than others, but survival will depend on who finally manages to get on the wave and stand up regardless of the moment. Although many business continuity committees are meeting seeking to resolve many pending issues, it is important that they consider all aspects of human resource management.
According to a study, 1 in 3 employees are concerned about job security – even before the COVID-19 crisis – now with the coronavirus in the city, how do we prevent employees from being distracted. And that this distraction detracts from productivity, which is just what worries us most in these uncertain times?
Organizational Commitment: Before, During And After The 2008 Financial Crisis
Based on more than 40 years of research, we can affirm that all employees have a greater commitment when they find three basic elements in their employment, these are the possibility of achieving personal and professional goals (achievement), maintaining good relationships with their work team ( camaraderie) and being adequately treated (equity), finding these three elements simultaneously has a multiplying effect on commitment. However, the importance of these factors may vary given the economic, social and personal circumstances. Identifying the right combination of these factors at the current juncture can help keep employees focused.
We still do not have enough information on how the coronavirus will impact the economy, but perhaps in the most recent crises, we can find references that help us manage uncertainty regarding talent management, dot-com crises in the technology and financial sectors. Of the year 2008 could work for this purpose, remember that in the last one, only in the United States about 9 million jobs were lost and the job search time went from 8 weeks to 33, this clearly had an impact on the perception of job stability so that for employees became the main element of concern.
The research carried out by David Sirota (2014) allowed evaluating the same group of companies that applied climate and organizational commitment assessments before, during and after the 2008 crisis, and with this analysis, we seek to understand the impact of the crisis on the commitment. We clearly refer to organizations concerned about this matter even when the economy was going through difficult times.
So we speak of organizations with robust practices in people management and here there could be bias since not all companies maintain the programs listening to employees at bad times. However, it is still true that the employees of these participating companies had emotions and fears about the economic and social situation, which is why the study is even more valid.
The interesting thing about the research is that, although the situation was negative, the morale of the employees was not affected to the drop, but rather increased, below we can see some questions and their results that were extracted for this analysis:
|Job satisfaction||All in all, how would you rate your overall satisfaction at ABC COMPANY right now?||75%||78%||75%|
|Job stability||How would you evaluate your safety at work? – (Don’t be worried about layoffs) –||68%||66%||68%|
|Compensation||How would you evaluate the compensation for the work you do?||52%||55%||53%|
|Benefits||I am satisfied with the benefits that I receive in this company||66%||69%||67%|
The open comments resulting from this research showed that, in the face of the crisis, employees were grateful for having a stable job and valued more what they received from their employer, even when some organizations had to make downward salary adjustments, decrease some benefits and even cut jobs.
The research also took into account the opportunities for improvement that employees presented to their organizations, many of them focused their comments on the way terminations were handled and communicated, in some way this negatively impacted the perception of job stability.
With this learning, we could then reflect on what to do differently to handle the economic situation with empathy? How do we better prepare our leaders and employees to handle the changes that COVID-19 poses for us or use digital technology to fight COVID-19?
The Role Of Management:
Confidence in management is a key factor in determining how people will react during the current COVID-19 crisis and potential recession, its effectiveness, in the view of employees, will depend on whether more or fewer jobs are lost, in practice the effectiveness of the leader It will depend not only on your agility and flexibility but also on your values.
We mentioned earlier that it is still impossible to determine the financial impact of the so-called coronavirus, but what we can know is how employees will react, helping them stay focused and engaged will help. So employee engagement will be a big challenge for us in this COVID-19 pandemic.
After all, those employees who remain in the organization will know how the company handled the COVID-19 crisis and from there they will decide how to return their commitment to it. In parallel, in the digital and connected world that we now live, customers will have the same information through the media and social networks and will make their purchasing decisions based on how the product or service they consume is delivered by an empathic and socially responsible organization.
From corporate companies point of view, to achieve better results in terms of organizational commitment and performance. It is important to guarantee not only what employees are looking for (achievement, camaraderie and equity as mentioned above), but also that there must be an alignment between a strategy well defined and clear, and this depends on the top leadership of the organization.
The way they read the market context and adapt the priorities will help to stay in the market, middle management will be responsible for communicating this strategy in work plans. But also for leading by example, the values and culture that the organization defined and communicated will be tested for consistency during the current juncture, lastly, employees must have the proper work tools, and at this juncture.
Productivity And The Employee Experience From Home
In 2019, during the World Youth Day, some companies in Panama had the opportunity to try teleworking, this, in a trial that I consider shy and focused on the operational but that surely left learning that facilitated the implementation for the current moment. This time there are many more organizations that have told me that they are teleworking and that they hope that this forced implementation will help them to maintain some form of remote work in their organization after the COVID -19 pandemic.
For those who are implementing it for the first time, for those who had been tested with pilot groups, for those who did it as a contingency in 2019 or for those who have been in it for many years. It is important to consider the experience of the employee, since teleworking It goes beyond VPN access and conversation using a teleconferencing system.
Personally, I have had the opportunity to work in an organization that allows remote work for more than 10 years, and for me, as for many others, it is an issue that is easy to handle today. But for many others, who have worked in His office for decades, change is not easy.
Hence it is of special relevance for people managers to think about the experience of the employee beyond the addendum to the contract, the monitoring mechanisms and adherence to the working hours of the office. Staying in this will be bringing face-to-face to virtual control and without a doubt, they are not the same, less in the current situation we are experiencing, and this does have an impact on those who have accumulated hours of telework because for the first time we are remote 40 hours a week.
How Then We Can Improve the Employee Experience to Ensure Greater Commitment and Productivity On Days of Social Distancing?
- Do not seek to 100% replicate the work schedule of the home office: although there is an employment contract between the parties and a regulatory framework that requires this, it is important to consider that in the current situation, many variables already defined escaped the design and the intention of the regulator or the creator of the policy, at the moment we have entire families at home, some of their collaborators may or may not have children, they may or may not have virtual education and more or less advanced mechanisms for this, some Other collaborators may have people with a greater need for special care and attention and may or may not have family or domestic employee support, as cases can be so wide and diverse, it is important to maintain a flexible policy that recognizes the unique challenges of each population, only then can they define the best remote working model.
- What is relevant is not the work schedule but the fulfilment of the objectives, so spend time listening to the voice of each team member, if it has always been difficult for all the collaborators to share in a group meeting, it is now more difficult because We can not read the body gestures that come out of the frame of the computer camera, be clear in the expectations, agendas and priorities. Encourage people to be visible on the call, ask for comments and questions to establish discussions, use the different tools that remote communication offers you, from videos to chats on the same platform.
- Managing a meeting of several people has always been challenging, however, in face-to-face meetings it is easier since the simple intense look of the leader or the “friendly stomp” of a colleague to help a colleague return from his cell phone or computer to the meeting made things easier, in virtual meetings we do not see some and where others try to speak at the same time it can deafen the participants and cause people to stop participating, for this reason, think about who to invite to the session or think about others. tools such as digital focus groups that allow us to collect in real-time the perceptions of hundreds of people in microseconds.
- For those who are working remotely for the first time, avoid sending the same message or request through several channels simultaneously, think that for every email, call and instant messaging notification you send to a colleague at almost the same time, it is as if I will approach the workplace several times to say the same thing if this would look very strange in the office, it also seems strange in the digital world, then think about the best channel to transmit the message and obtain the desired result.
- Remote calls require a redesign of the meetings, in them, it is much more difficult to achieve the relaxed and personal conversation that works as a prelude to the main topic of the meeting, if this is important, and undoubtedly it is, then seeks to create other meeting spaces. Informal communication with your work teams, check the emotions, feelings and experience of teleworking, understand what happens at home to seek to support the employee and thus keep him focused and committed, consider that some employees will have more difficulties than others.
- As the dynamics of virtual meetings change, you could then reduce the time you would have allocated to a face-to-face meeting, by sharing previous materials and seeking to ensure that those who are more introverted or thoughtful feel ready to contribute. It is important that you explore new rituals to maintain team spirit. Reinforce that phone is still a usable tool, conference systems are useful and valuable, but some still feel closer to the phone. The email should not be the only tool.
Do not cancel your wellness activities and evaluate how supporting your employees, social distance and the economic situation can create depression and anxiety, if some employees already felt exhausted at work, a very brief translation that I give to burnout, think about how it will delve into them and how it will affect others. The physical, emotional and financial well-being programs are still relevant these days, what the conjuncture demands of us are levels of creativity in these new scenarios.
Then analyze who your employees are, what their needs are to determine what is the best program that you can implement in your organization, try not to forget the family group, after all, a good part of your company is at home with them.