Maintaining a Productive Workforce During COVID-19
Lockdown may be over for now, but it is far from business-as-usual. Many commentators believe that the pandemic could fundamentally change the way that many employees work in the long-term. For now, at least, businesses need to find ways to maintain productivity while safeguarding the wellbeing of the workforce.
It is vital that organisations are supporting their employees and finding ways to ensure that workers are not only productive and engaged with their work but given the support they need to maintain their overall wellbeing.
Here are three ways to maintain a productive workforce during COVID-19 and provide much-needed support:
Employees need technology that allows them to do their job. Laptops and work phones are a minimum requirement. As well as the hardware, your employees will need the software that allows them to communicate, collaborate and perform as a team. Now that employees have been working from home for a few months, it’s a good time to check-in and see if there are any additional requirements or areas which need support.
Training and upskilling may be necessary with the adoption of new technology. Be sure to implement this as early as possible where it is needed.
One of the key aspects of an employer’s responsibility to its employees is emotional support. This has perhaps never been more relevant than now. Employees will be dealing with a wide range of factors, both in and out of their work life, and support comes in a variety of ways:
- Allow Flexibility- Allowing employees to work at times that suit them is one of the most important ways that you can both maintain productivity and support your colleagues. Some parents with young children may not have the time during the day to invest into work and prefer to work in the evenings. Others may need to log-off at short notice to allow a spouse to attend an important meeting. Affording your employees the flexibility to work in a way that fits in with their other priorities is a basic requirement during the pandemic.
- Show Understanding– Appreciating that employees will have different coping mechanisms and support structures is also important. These are stressful circumstances for all, and some will find it easier than others. It is important to strike a balance and understand that some may need more support than usual on tasks, need more space and time to perform, or even need to take a short break from work in order to decompress and look after their mental wellbeing. Being accepting and understanding of this is important.
- Social events- Not everything should be about the work. Utilise collaboration platforms such as Skype, WebEx or Zoom to hold social first events. No work talk allowed. Quizzes, coffee mornings or Friday drinks are a nice way for employees to socialise and share some time that is not work-focused.
Effective communication is perhaps more important than ever.
- Provide Structure- As much as possible it is a good idea to maintain as much normality as possible. Regular scheduled meetings and catch-ups are a good way to maintain a structure in the work week and keep people connected and focused on objectives.
- Don't leave people behind– With so much changing there is every chance that certain parts of a business will be far busier during COVID-19, while others will be quieter. It is important to support both those who are busy, but also those whose workload has shrunk. Busy teams will need extra support to handle workload. Those whose workload has reduced should be reassigned where possible – investigate their skill-set and where it could be put to good use.
- Keep people informed- One of the most essential facets of keeping both morale and productivity up is to keep your employees informed as much as possible. There are so many unknowns and employees will have questions, both about the company health and strategy and about their personal circumstances. Give employees as much information as you have regarding your response, plans and how it will impact them. You can mitigate uncertainty and speculation by keeping your people in the know.
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