COVID-19 has moved faster than any country or company could have imagined or prepared for. In a matter of days, millions of employees moved to home offices and living rooms, kitchen tables and couches, causing employers to grapple with the frictions and opportunities of remote workforces for the foreseeable future.
Based on data collected by APCO Insight since the earliest days of the crisis, and what we’re seeing from our own clients, below are our recommendations for optimizing your existing infrastructure to engage employees during and after COVID-19.
Leverage the C-Suite to Build Employee Confidence and Engagement
How leaders behave during critical moments leaves a lasting mark on corporate culture. Even if leaders don’t have all the information, now is the time to communicate with employees on a more frequent and consistent basis. Rather than waiting for the next all-employee meeting, leaders should send shorter, daily communications with updates on their organization’s financial health, actions they are taking to resolve issues and where employees should prioritize their efforts.
Leaders should also ramp up communications on their personal social media channels to keep internal and external audiences informed, demonstrate visible leadership and build long-term reputation.
Plan for Change
Companies should start planning now for any workforce changes that may result from this crisis, including exploring all temporary options first, such as use of paid sick leave and unpaid vacation. Staff terminations perceived as rash or unnecessary may have a lasting negative impact on business.
If layoffs are necessary, company leadership should align on process, including who will be impacted, what resources will be provided and who will be responsible for execution. Organizations should create business continuity plans, prepare for all scenarios and identify ways to mitigate risk.
All plans should be supported by clear communications that prioritize respect for employees and those affected by the crisis, as well as a strategy for engaging employees who will remain with the organization. Companies should put in place processes to monitor employee feedback and adjust messaging and tactics as needed.
Build Culture Remotely
More than ever before, employees are looking for ways to recreate the in-person experiences of office cultures. Now is a great time to capitalize on the creativity inspired by the crisis, celebrate diversity and unite teams remotely through specialty affinity groups, creative digital learning offerings and team building activities for groups of all sizes. Focusing on your organization’s purpose can help employees feel a sense of normalcy and ensure that they are thinking about the future.
Click here for more insights on working for home, from APCO’s global team.