Social distancing, remote work, uncertainty… The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are hitting hard on the most important assets of any company: their people. All of a sudden our world has crumbled and we are not even sure things will ever go back to normal.
Your company is probably facing a truckload of challenges due to the current situation. To begin with, it’s hard to anticipate how long the measures adopted by different governments will last. These measures, aimed to contain the spread of the virus and to avoid the collapse of health systems, are creating an unprecedented situation, and working remotely has become the norm for many companies.
In 2018, which seems like only yesterday:
- 44% of the companies in the world didn’t allow remote work
- 16% where fully remote
- 52% of employees worked remotely at least once a week
These numbers might have possibly changed forever. In just 3 weeks, the percentage of employees working from home doubled, reaching 62% in the U.S. Workplaces, interactions between employees and managers, client management and how we communicate, both internally and externally, will be different. The whole business operating system is going to suffer critical updates as the situation caused many companies to migrate from hard drives to the cloud off-guard.
Employee experience and people analytics are key
LinkedIn Global Talent Trends for 2020 forecasted Employee Experience and People Analytics as the two main trends to watch this year. On one hand, if you want the best talent, you need to implement initiatives to attract and retain it. On the other hand, it’s crucial to promote employees accurately and provide proper growth tools for those that are underperforming by making decisions based on the right insights. These two concepts that might have seemed challenging before, just became even more daunting, and it all starts with company culture. The link between culture and people is now stronger than ever as COVID-19 is changing culture forever, and the words of Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” are more relevant today than ever before.
Being able to offer a great Employee Experience will become the main lever to shape your company culture, if it wasn’t before. At propelland we understand that Employee Experience has different moments, and each one should be analyzed and shaped individually:
- Attracting talent: Prospective hires will pay special attention to remote work policies. Your cool open offices with hot desking, ping-pong tables and fruit bowls will no longer hold any value for talent attraction (if they even remain). They will need to be redesigned, as highlighted in our Beyond Today 2020 report. They will shrink, there will be less people in them, if any, and less interaction between those that are present, for the sake of safety.
- Hiring: AI was already deeply changing the ways to identify the right fit for your company’s culture. To avoid flying people all over the country, with the time, cost and effort that requires, companies will implement AI to better qualify candidates, conduct interviews through Zoom, and start looking to their neighbors to hire locals while looking in-house for talent to promote, rather than going through the process of finding fresh blood.
- Onboarding: Having a good onboarding process in place is the first step to have an engaged loyal employee for years to come, but it’s not an easy task. More often than not, new hires arrive in the midst of a big, complicated project that was due yesterday, and their coworkers don’t have the time to properly introduce themselves and show them the ropes. Long gone are the days where you could take the team to lunch, or arrange a happy hour to welcome somebody in, so how will that be solved in the new reality? Technology will have a huge role here: VR technology and customized digital work environments are taking the stage, and will remain on it until well after this has passed.
- Engage — Perform — Develop: These are the three key touchpoints that will keep your talent with you or else, they’ll find a place where they feel more accomplished.
- Engage: Virtual dailies, one-to-ones, greetings, meetings… These relatively new means of communication have become mainstream and Gen-Zers, Millenials and Gen-Xers got the gist of them pretty fast, but it might have been a bit of a hurdle for the older generations in the workplace. Finding the right balance between digital and physical interactions can make a huge difference.
- Perform: The annual performance review was obsolete long before COVID-19, and if you still keep it as a tool to measure your employees’ work, we need to talk. Nudging will become crucial to obtain high ratios of efficiency among your employees. How to design these nudges and how to activate them should be a priority for your HR department.
- Develop: Train your employees in these new digital collaboration tools and give them time to adapt, but don’t put aside a key part of your employees growth: soft skills. Provide your employees with the right tools to develop their soft skills, or find a partner who can help you create a toolbox to that aim. As uncertainty is becoming omnipresent, dealing with it requires tons of soft skills at every level.
- Departure: Regardless the reasons for employees to leave before COVID-19, it usually took place with a direct, face-to-face interaction. From now on it will most likely be very different, and unfortunately these conversations are going to take place on a regular basis, since the economic downfall could be one of the biggest crises since the Great Depression. Just in April, 20.5 Million people lost their jobs in the US.
Freelancing and the gig economy have been a talking point for some time now, but the economic crisis that will ensue this pandemic could lead to more flexible ways of hiring and working with talent. So when your having these types of conversations, keep in mind that your former employees could be an asset to your business, and you could hire them as contractors even to do a different job than the one they had as full-time employees and it could be a very valuable resource to tap into in the near future.
COVID-19 has brought the future of work. As we explain in Beyond Today 2020, companies have to anticipate and train their employees to be more agile than ever. They will have to implement measures that don’t just keep the morale up and strengthen the company culture but those that help your employees grow. The need for an accelerated adaptation to the new reality has to be addressed urgently, but it could also be taken as an opportunity to change processes and old ways of delivering results at any level. In other words, there is no better time to align the strategy and the culture of the company than that of the current crisis. In order to do so it is key to pay special attention to your main asset, your people, and redesign an Employee Experience to enhance performance and shape your company culture to be ready for whatever the future brings.