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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4 Ways to Expand Your Social Media Recruiting Strategy
Social media is ubiquitous, and companies are using it in many different and innovative ways for enhancing their sales, marketing and customer services. So why is it then that many HR departments still fail to see social media as more than a job board? Outside of the office, the same HR people happily engage with friends on Facebook, share news and ideas on Twitter, look at pictures on Instagram and send snaps on Snapchat. But when they put their work hat on they seemingly forget why they use social in the way they (and hundreds of millions of other users) do every day, and resort back to just posting jobs (in a boring way) on social media! Of course there is nothing wrong with job posting, and it's often an effective approach to reaching an audience, but not all of the time. According to LinkedIn, only 12 percent of the working population are actively seeking new employment. So, if all you do is post jobs on your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page, you are consciously ignoring the other 88 percent of the working population who might be interested in hearing more about your company in general. Creating and sharing interesting content about your company such as employee stories or volunteer days help bring your employer brand to life. It might even trigger people to reach out to you and find out more about your job opportunities. In truth, mixing up your social media feeds with a variety of content will provide more depth and candidate engagement. Here are four ways to expand your social media strategy and engage with new potential candidates. 1) Candidate Sourcing With people using an average of more than five social networks, sourcing talent via social media makes absolute sense. Branch out from just using LinkedIn and look to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to search for and engage with prospective talent. Try search tools like Followerwonk to search Twitter bios for keywords and job titles, a clever Chrome browser extension called Intelligence Search that easily searches Facebook and using the search bar at the top of Google+. They will help you identify new talent. If you are looking to build social media pipelines then try Hello Talent. It is a great free tool that allows you to build talent pipelines from many different social networks by using a browser extension. 2) Competitor Monitoring Social media is a fantastic source of information and data. By using tools like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck, you can monitor the social media activity of your competitors. Both of these tools allow you to set up search columns, where you can enter things like keywords, hashtags, Twitter names and track when any of these are mentioned on sites such as Twitter. You can use the interact or use the insights accordingly. 3) Resources for Candidates Consider your Facebook page (or Twitter channel) as a real-time customer services channel for you to engage and communicate with both new and existing candidates in the recruitment process. Provide links to your social media pages to candidates at all stages in the process and encourage them to visit the pages and ask questions about any part of the process. You can also share useful information about working for the company, including locations, employees and other relevant news. 4) Live Recruitment Events Not everyone can attend the many recruitment events happening every month. But by using social media like Twitter, Facebook Live, Instagram and Snapchat, you can easily provide live commentary for these events you attend or host. Real-time video via Facebook Live and interaction via Twitter chats are superb examples of ways to regularly engage with a live audience of potential candidates. With social media firmly established in our working lives, I question how much more evidence HR departments will need to fully embrace this "new" form of candidate engagement. Photo: Twenty20
Cartoon Coffee Break: Unconventional Recruiting
Editor's Note: This post is part of our "Cartoon Coffee Break" series. While we take talent management seriously, we also know it's important to have a good laugh. Check back every two weeks for a new ReWork cartoon. Missed the Recruiting Trends conference? From the state of recruiting automation adoption, to the role that the human element still plays in recruiting, our recap covers everything you need to know. Header photo: Creative Commons
The Latest Office Benefit Is Tackling Student Debt
Modern companies are more than just employers — increasingly, they are also gyms, cafeterias and even laundromats. As perks like yoga class, free lunch and complimentary dry cleaning become the norm, companies continue to push the boundaries on ways to attract and retain top talent by providing much more than a paycheck to employees. The latest in the slew of new workplace benefits? Student loan assistance. In April, Chegg partnered with Tuition.io to give full-time employees extra cash for student loan reduction. Then in September, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers announced it would provide up to $1,200 to help employees pay off loans annually. As a benefit, student loan assistance programs are certainly still in their infancy— one survey found that only 3 percent of companies offer such a benefit. But experts say that may soon change as companies seek to differentiate themselves in a competitive hiring environment. "We think student loan benefits are poised to be the next big benefit; similar to what 401(k) matching was when it was first introduced," says Dana Rosenberg, who leads employer and affinity group partnerships at Earnest, a lender that offers student loan refinancing and works with companies to create loan pay-down programs. The Burden of Student Debt Such programs could be extremely attractive to debt-laden Millennials. Around 40 million Americans collectively carry $1.2 trillion in student loan debt, and the graduating class of 2015 was the most indebted class in history with an average debt of $35,000 (a superlative they won't hold for long come May 2016.) For employers looking to adjust benefits to correspond to the changing demographics of their employee base, student loan programs hit the mark. "In 2016, our employees will be 80 percent millennials, and we also hire close to 11,000 employees directly out of school each year," says Terri McClements, Washington Metro managing partner of PwC. With student debt often preventing young people from participating in 401(k) plans and reaching traditional life milestones, the benefit could potentially make a large impact on employees' financial and personal well-being. A study from the American Student Association found that 73 percent of people with student loans reported putting off saving for retirement or other investments due to their debt, 75 percent reported delaying a home purchase and 27 percent reported it was difficult to buy daily necessities. "Student loans can be a very stressful thing to deal with, so if we can give our employees peace of mind, that's great," says Caroline Gennaro, corporate communications manager at Chegg. The Allure for Employers Student debt assistance programs aren't just attractive to employees, either. Rosenberg says there are significant benefits for the organizations that offer them as well. "Employers that offer programs to help their employees get out from under their debt load are seeing big benefits: increased retention, more competitive recruiting and, perhaps most importantly, happier employees who have additional cash flow to put towards their life goals," Rosenberg explains. Rosenberg says happier employees are more engaged employees, who tend to be more productive. Studies show that companies with high employee engagement experience lower turnover and have double the rate of organizational success than their less-engaged counterparts. Student loan benefit programs may also lead to a more diverse workforce, attracting employees whose financial backgrounds meant they had to take on more debt for their education. "Diversity and inclusion are also very important to us, so the ability to offer this benefit can help minorities who come out of school with a higher debt burden," says McClements. A Promising Response Companies say the response to their student loan assistance programs have been overwhelmingly positive. Chegg has had more than 80 people sign up since they started their program this summer, and they've already eliminated roughly 86 years of collective loan repayments for their employees. Companies are also finding these programs are a way to differentiate themselves from organizations that may offer more generic benefits. "As a company in the San Francisco Bay Area, we are always looking to attract the best and brightest in the industry, and this benefit is a big draw," says Gennaro. Photo: Shutterstock