There is light at the end of the tunnel. At some point, the pandemic will end. Organizations and people will attempt to thrust themselves back into something approximating normal. However, expecting normalcy to return without issue invites a second crisis—one that also happens to be preventable.
From a loss of income to the loss of a loved one, the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll on everyone—from working-level to the C-suite. Feeling anxious, confused, overwhelmed or powerless iscommon during an infectious disease outbreak. As society attempts to cope with reality, millions of people are experiencing changes in sleep and eating patterns, difficulty concentrating and the exasperation of mental health problems. Expecting the stress to just blow over after the shelter-in-place orders are lifted may place your employees and business in harm’s way again.
Now is the time for leaders to act. Getting the response right might define your career—and serve as your organization’s defining moment. Here are a few steps you can take right now to post-pandemic-proof your business.
1. Do not expect getting "back to normal" will be anything close to normal.
"Back to normal" implies the possibility of going back to exactly the way things were. In the case of this pandemic, that is not only misleading, but potentially dangerous. The disruption and consequences caused by COVID-19 and the response to it are unprecedented. This novel coronavirus viciously exposed our personal, corporate and governmental vulnerabilities. Every country and human on this planet has been impacted in one way or another.
Tip:Adopt a "re-build" rather than "resume" attitude. Life was not just put on hold when the crisis hit. Humans don’t have a pause or rewind button. Regardless of how each of us has beens affected and responded, we are different now. Life is different now. Uncertainty and ambiguity aren’t going away. It’s okay to be uncomfortable as we adapt to an evolving "new normal."
2. Anticipate that the return to normalcy could take 12 to 18 months.
Much to the dismay of billions of people, COVID-19 likely isn’t going away. It’s a virus, not a blizzard or earthquake. Unlike natural disasters that have a beginning and an end, this catastrophic event will be mitigated, but it won’t disappear. It’s likely to linger, and even reappear, if we don’t remain vigilant. It took more than three millennia to eradicate smallpox. Thanks to modern medicine and technology, it’s reasonable to expect the "cure" for COVID-19 might only take years.
Tip: Physical distancing guidelines will need to be practiced for months ahead—especially in the workplace. Personal protection equipment (masks and gloves) will need to be provided for both physical safety and emotional peace of mind. Anticipate how CDC guidelines might affect production work, customer interaction and travel. Embrace remote work whenever possible. Discuss how and when meetings and gatherings will be conducted, including networking and lunchroom gatherings.
3. "Reboard" your employees.
Welcome back each employee like it’s the first time you’ve met them.The novel coronavirus has undone a century’s worth of habits in just a few weeks. There will be personal and economic consequences. A lot of workers will return to their jobs as different and, in many cases, more vulnerable people.
Tip: Schedule one-on-ones with each employee. We are all responding to this crisis differently. Some of us are stressed about older parents living alone. Others are concerned about the safety and education of young children. Some are still cashing paychecks, while others are standing in food lines. Conversations should address unique challenges faced by each employee. Many of these meetings can, and should, be done in advance to get a pulse on levels of engagement or challenges that lie ahead. You should be reaching out to workers regularly, anyway—furloughed or not!
4. Train your managers and supervisors to recognize the invisible signs of trauma.
I’m not suggesting your non-clinical staff learn to diagnose. But it is important to help them simply become aware of symptoms. Some managers have great relationships with their direct reports. They’ll know in a heartbeat who has weathered the crisis well and who hasn’t. Unfortunately, many don’t. They won’t have a clue (without some training) who is adjusting well and who isn’t.
Tip: Make sure every manager and supervisor is able to recognize the signs and symptoms of emotional trauma, post-traumatic stress (PTS), and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There are a number of organizations in your community ready to help. Many offer on-site training and evaluation. Some offer free online resources and elearning courses.
5. Upskill your leaders.
Many leaders entered this moment unprepared; few are ready for what’s next. Many managers were elevated into their roles based on their technical prowess or tenure. This isn’t the time to have them make it up as they go. Further, front-line supervisors, in particular, directly manage 80% of the workforce and, odds are, most lack the soft skills needed to help their teams navigate what lies ahead. You can’t afford to send them into this "battle" without the proper tools.
Tip: There is no time like the present to invest in your managers. Enroll your front-line supervisors in online learning courses on coaching, active listening, communication, leadership and stress management. Grow their emotional intelligence and team-building skills. If there ever was a time for empathy, trust and compassionate communication, it’s now.
The notion of life as a linear journey ended weeks ago. We’re now living, working and growing on an exponential curve. Hop on board. You’ve got a one-way ticket, and your next stop has yet to be determined. Consequently, there is no getting back to business as usual. The best advice: Prepare for business as unusual.
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Alexander Mann Solutions wins Cornerstone OnDemands sponsored categories at the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards
Here at Cornerstone, we absolutely love to hear inspiring stories and share them far and wide, especially when they are about talent management! We were recently headline sponsors of the TIARA 2020 Talent Solutions Awards. These annual awards, hosted by TALiNT International, celebrate excellence across the RPO, MSP and Talent Solutions marketplace, and recognise the wonderful ways companies are demonstrating exemplary growth, innovation and leadership. For 2020, it was the usual great awards with a bit of a difference. As we know, everything has now moved online – even this year’s Convergence! But this didn’t seem to impact the TIARA Talent Solution Awards at all. Despite not being able to celebrate face-to-face, the event was filled with laughter, engagement, and most of all, lots of fun! This year, we also supported the Best Use of Technology Award as well as the Overall Winner. The winner – triumphing in both categories – could not be more deserving, and so we duly wanted to pass on our huge congratulations to Alexander Mann Solutions! Alexander Mann was awarded the Cornerstone OnDemand Best Use of Technology Award for their brilliant ‘Find Your Fit’ technology solution. The platform offers users personal preferences and assisted future growth through interactive videos, personalised one-to-one calls, and a dedicated platform to match skills with current roles within the organisation. The solution had 1,200 employees enrolling within just six months of implementation and is continuing to improve every day. Find Your Fit helps employees to understand how their organisation functions better, including the areas that are growing the most rapidly. In turn, this helps employees to develop the skills they need in order to take advantage of these developments to enhance not only their personal career progression, but overall business performance. After all, businesses don’t innovate, people do! The judges commended this entry for “the clear way in which an innovative technology solution clearly delivered in results”. The judges also applauded Alexander Mann for demonstrating customer care by really listening to client’s individual challenges and using inventive technology solutions to help design a custom built solution that helps to support the overall internal career options and pathways available to each organisation. The award was accepted virtually by Stephen Gordon, Recruitment Tech Lead at Talent Collective/AMS. In addition to being awarded Best Use of Technology, Alexander Mann was also recognised as this year’s overall winner of the Talent Solutions Awards. Chair of Judges, Jim Richardson highlighted that “the overall winner is based on the organisation that consistently demonstrates excellence and innovation across all of its activities”. Both Peoplescout and Guidant Global were highly commended by the judges for their brilliant work, but ultimately, Alexander Mann took home the award for demonstrating consistently high standards across all areas. Jim Richardson added that although Alexander Mann has the resources to support many initiatives, it has still managed to deliver consistently on large scale and complex global projects. This is a phenomenally impressive achievement that all of us at Cornerstone also wish to say a huge congratulations for! The other winners and nominees from this year’s TIARA Talent Solutions Awards have highlighted more excellent work and brilliant stories across the recruiting sector and HR community. For the full list of winners, check out the TALiNT International’s September/October 2020 edition here.
Blog: Why HR need to lead the agile change journey
It's been going on for a while now - the shift towards more agile and flexible companies that quickly can adapt to the fast-changing times of today. Organisations that are unable to make this move are gradually losing competitiveness and finding it more difficult to prove themselves against smaller and faster players. Those who recognise the need and are able to create new conditions for the business, in the form of new structures, will survive and flourish in tomorrow's economic reality. Agile HR can be viewed from two different angles; How HR should work together within the HR team and what / how HR should deliver value to the business for which they exist. All HR processes that are part of Talent and People Management will be different when you start working agile, and each of the processes have their specific tools and working methods. Here we will look at HR from a more general perspective, to get an overall understanding of how the HR role, and the corresponding deliverables, change in a company that wants to increase its business agility. The goal is to focus on creating better workplaces through the development of teams and individuals, throughout the whole organisation. Small and medium-sized companies are easier to change, as they have less hierarchical structures, and often a more decentralised business, where everyone has an ability to make the decisions that need to be made, locally rather than centrally. The larger and more complex a company is, the more systems, processes, and structures there are that cannot be easily and quickly changed. Although it is possible to change a department in the organisation, some issues might remain that forces the department back into the central structures. This happens because it is not possible to isolate a specific part of the business. You can compare it to an attempt to change a rubber ball. It changes when it is being squeezed, but when you let go, it quickly returns to its old shape. However, there is one functional department in most large organisations that can influence all the other parts at once – HR. In many large companies, HR controls; ● Leadership programs and development ● Change management ● Organisational development ● Employee engagement ● Employee training and skills development ● Rewards and bonuses ● Recruitment ● Goal setting and performance reviews ● Long term mix of employees All these processes or areas flow through the entire organisation. These are the structures that can support, or prevent, a more radical change towards a more agile company. It all depends on HOW we work with processes and programs. They can be developed in a way that, paradoxically, prevents performance and commitment. Or they can optimise performance and employee satisfaction. HR struggles with criticisms, it is accused of being some kind of "organisational police", which hinders performance and commitment by implementing Talent management processes in a way that was intended to increase the same. This needs to change. HR has been in the back seat for too long and now it is time to take responsibility for a change in how to support the organisation. Because it is about people, and relationships between people, this is the key to how the company performs as a whole. It is the system that fundamentally needs to change, not the people. We do not need to do more things or implement complicated frameworks and methods. Instead, we need to understand how we can make it easier for people to make their best contribution to the company, by providing supportive structures, instead of hindering structures. It is through more experiments and by trying different working methods, that one can find the best path for each organisation, and each team/individual. Here, the agile principles and the agile mindset serve as a guide. Agile tools and frameworks work sometimes, but not always. The only way to continually improve is through constant learning, which also means that we sometimes fail. Companies that learn faster than others, and turn that knowledge into new ways of working for employees, but also new products and services for external customers, gain a competitive advantage and will be the winner of the future. HR has the power and the ability to design the structures that aim to either support or make it harder for employees to contribute in creative and innovative ways. If HR sticks to the old, traditional ways of working, the consequence will be rigid and non-agile organisations that use inefficient systems and processes. HR can either hinder or support the change, so HR must show the way. By providing opportunities for alternative and more agile working methods, and by focusing on value creation and value flows for the internal and by extension also external customers, HR can lead companies through changes that no other department is capable of. The next blog chapter will dive into HR's changing role.