The second wave of COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on our country, especially on people, as compared to the first wave. The exponential rise of COVID positive cases has added to the plight of individuals affecting them physically, financially, and psychologically. While the impact on business and economy has been equally distressing, it is encouraging to see many organizations come forward to put ‘People’ as their priority asset rather than survival / growth only approach. This approach makes business sense also, as organizations showing empathy to their employees and following a people centric approach, especially in tough times, have better business results in the long run. Employees feel much more psychological safety and confidence when organizations deal with their needs with utmost sensitivity, compassion, and care.
Here are few recommendations on how companies can sail through these uncertain times and be better prepared for the unforeseen future:
Re-look at Employee Support Schemes
In the pre-pandemic era, employee support schemes were highly focused on experiential benefits, however, the last one year has seen a major shift towards employee wellness programs. Perks have also evolved from experience to employee support. In a crisis impacting so many people, organizations should look at a community-based approach or a task force approach to extend support to those affected, in multiple ways and bring people together to support each other. In times like these, when any help extended makes a difference, expediting small yet essential necessities like doctor’s availability, medical kits, medical tests, hospital bed availability, food, or financial support can play a strong role to help those affected. Many organizations are also coming up with extended support schemes to help employees like better insurance cover, no question asked leave, staggered or lump sum compensation for legal heir of the deceased employees and more. ‘Employee Support Schemes’ is one space that has been thrust into focus and should stay as a part of an organization's employee offering from here on. We will see many more initiatives that are people focussed, not just in experience but towards their emotional and mental well-being also.
Build a strong infrastructure support for a blended work environment
The work from home culture or blended work approach is here to stay. In such a scenario, it is crucial for organizations to ensure adequate hardware and software infrastructure ensuring smooth functioning for a location agnostic work environment. The pandemic has taught many industries including ours that work from home is possible and with innovative initiatives one can keep the employees motivated and driven. When the entire ecosystem is going through so much stress, it is advisable to keep the work atmosphere more agile, reduce burden on employees wherever possible and introduce initiatives that keep them connected with the organization. Furthermore, a back-up staffing plan and real-time business management solutions help ensure smooth business functioning and continuity.
Keep business continuity plans more adaptable to the changing needs
Resilience and the willingness to adapt to the ever-evolving business environment is the key in these times. With reducing predictability, it is advisable to formulate business continuity plans for longer, scattered and widespread challenges in addition to the more geographically concentrated challenges we more often see. It has also shown us that in uncertain times like this which impact so many people personally for such a long time, taking steps that give psychological safety becomes essential to ensure that even the available people are able to focus on work and help with continuity. When a new challenge surprises us, involve the right people to come up with an appropriate solution
The current crisis has reaffirmed the need to put ‘Human Being’ first and that being compassionate to employees is the only way to ensure that organizations manage and come out stronger from a crisis. People never forget the support they receive during their time of need. As an essential norm, organizations must follow the ‘Principle of Employee Centricity’ to not only survive tough times like these but also continue to grow, strive and lead by example.