Transformation Solutions Blog

How we Handle the Next Few Weeks will be Remembered for up to 10 Years!

April 22nd, 2020

As things start to settle and the economy begins to come back, we will all see changes to our world of work and a move to a new normal.  Human beings are very innovative and resilient, but the actions companies take now to define and move to their new normal will be remembered by employees for years to come. 

A great example is when we think about some of the reasons why the younger generations may not appear to be as “loyal” to their organizations as generations before –  as children they watched their parents lose the jobs that defined them and possibly struggle for a long time to find a new one.  In addition, those people who lost their jobs in the last recession are still talking about the callous way in which their company cast them out after years of loyal service.

So, we need to take the time to get it right, help our employees feel supported, stay connected, and discover new ways to work productively together.  What do we think some of the key areas for consideration in the new normal may be?  I’ve gathered a few of my thoughts below and while I am not a futurist, they seem very likely.

  • Travel will not return to pre-pandemic levels for at least 12 months.  Virtual meetings and virtual learning will become more mainstream.  Existing materials and formats will need to be redesigned for a virtual environment.
  • Mitigating People Risk will take on new meaning.  Companies will take extra steps to identify and support mission-critical roles – anyone whose absence would jeopardize business continuity – by building explicit succession plans in case of illness, creating shadow teams to provide necessary backup, and reengaging recent retirees.
  • Clear and timely communication will be expected.  Just because something is all over the media, it doesn’t mean that employees have the latest information.  Fake news stokes fears – that makes it essential for companies to filter the material and process it for their employees.  Companies will need to provide regular company updates and announcements by health authorities. 
  • Some employers will see the benefits of reducing real estate.  They will make working remotely a core competence of their business.  This will require teaching employees how to be productive working remotely, and managers how to coach and lead virtual teams.
  • Some companies will rethink their leadership model and more closely evaluate the capabilities of their current leaders.  The crisis should bring to light strong vs. weak leaders.  Companies will look more closely at how they select and develop individuals for leadership roles.
  • Timing for new hires may be delayed.  The challenge is in communicating why some jobs are being filled while others aren’t, as well as making sure each hire has a high level of job-fit.
  • Employee Safety will become a significant priority for all types of businesses. I think we are clear that we need to adopt new hygiene and health habits and make sure employees stick with them; but what about the psychological habits?
  • Redeployment of Talent.  Some companies make short-term adjustments to workforce deployment to maximize productivity and minimize service disruption.  Would they go so far as to partner with other companies to redeploy “idle” talent externally for the good of the broader community?
  • Auditing their operating model for redundancy.  If a company hasn’t already taken a slash and burn approach to cutting costs early on, they should look carefully at their organizational design to make sure it is “fit for purpose”.  This may uncover a need to adjust management spans and create a whole new operating model.
  • More anxious to move toward digital solutions.   Does this give rise to more widespread use of digital communication platforms, video interviewing, etc?  Many employees aren’t used to working with these tools, so training will need to be structured to get the most of these investments. 

There is no doubt the world we knew only a few weeks ago is gone and a new normal will rise up.  These unprecedented times given every organization an opportunity to look to improve and adjust for a brighter future.  How they go about doing it will, hopefully, generate stories of heroic and empathetic gestures to come out of this stronger than we were.