In the blink of an eye, the world of work has changed quite dramatically for many of us over the last few weeks, and who knows what will come over the next few weeks and months. We’re hearing a lot about how we’re all in the same boat and all in this together, but that’s just not true.
One thing is for sure, what we knew as normal is gone and whether we continue to work remotely for the foreseeable or we start to head back into our workplaces, we will need to create a new normal. This is a really exciting time for HR to lead and support on the future of work for all.
Leading and managing people has never been rocket science, and yet so many struggles to lead and manage in an effective way. If we don’t listen to our people, talk openly with our people and design solutions based on feedback and buy-in from our people we will never get to a place of being an employer of choice. But with all that’s going in the world at the moment should companies really care about being an employer of choice? Yes, as the organisations and leaders that put their people first during this time will be the ones that are sustainable for the future.
If one thing has become more obvious during this change it’s been that we all have a choice. Employers can no longer tell their people that flex working, home working and self-managing priorities is no longer possible because people all around the world are proving that it’s working.
Employers that refuse to provide more of what their people want and need in order to allow them to manage life and work more effectively, will fail to secure and retain the talent they need to move them forward. This is no longer just flex for parents and carers, but all people. People who want to study more, spend more time working out, have more downtime, we are all craving more downtime. Just this week I’ve spoken to six people who are all grateful for lockdown because it’s saving them on average, 15 hours a week of commuting time. 15 hours a week.
Whether you need your people to keep on working, or you need to furlough them or they are working from home or being laid off, be clear in what you are saying and what you are doing.
Be clear in why you are making the decisions you are making. If you are having to treat your people communities differently based on their role, their salary or their working hours, be clear in the reasons for this. Keep things simple, don’t try and overcomplicate messages, there’s no need. Be clear about the steps that you are taking for your people and your organisation, and the messages you are making. Clarity is key now more than ever.
Whether your people are still working in workplaces, or doing what they can from home, the biggest and most human thing you can realise at this time, is that your people are not working from home or working as normal. Your people are carrying on working during a global pandemic. They are working with all of the emotion and all of the fear and all of the change and all of the upheaval and all of their lives turned completely upside down. And yet they are working and doing their best.
Allow flexibility. If it’s easier for your people to juggle family and work by starting at 6am, taking a few hours off mid-morning and then picking up work again mid-afternoon, let it happen.
If people need to do less during the week and more at weekends, let it happen. Focus on outcomes not hours at a laptop. Recognise that your people are feeling up and down and some days feeling like a complete failure. Treat them as people. Be kind, be human!
Speak to your people about their challenges, their successes, what has been working for them and what hasn’t and what they would like to continue or change when work begins again.
And then ask them the same questions again, and again and even when ‘normal’ service has resumed, keep talking to them, keep asking questions to get your people to share openly and honestly. And role model this. Talk about how you are feeling, honestly. If today is a good day, say so. If today is a bad day, say so
Your people will have the answers to the questions you ask and the steps you need to take to navigate HR successfully during COVID-19, allow them to help you to change the world of work.