The Human Resource: Engaging the Workforce During a Crisis

By June 16, 2020Business Owners

The Covid-19 crisis has impacted us all in ways that may take years or a lifetime to reflect upon and understand.  As businesses begin to reopen and emerge from shutdown, the employees we value and need for our company to succeed are emerging from a stay-at-home lockdown that can be a traumatic experience to say the least.

The myriad of challenges today that include returning to a new normal work environment, changes to working conditions such as remote to physical office, daily protests or riots, civil unrest and a Covid-19 virus that has no cure and the risks include death are creating a traumatic situation for many of the people in our community.

As business leaders it is more critical now than ever to demonstrate strong leadership values and ethics in how you treat your employees and how you create and maintain a life work balance that includes the safety and protection of the workforce while building sustainable processes and practices that enable you to continue providing your products and services to your customers and clients.

Three important considerations as we emerge from stay-at-home lockdown to support your business strategy for success.

Address employee concerns

Employees will have genuine, valid and realistic fears and concerns when asked to return to a physical work location. Do not demonstrate a disrespectful attitude or communication style by “ordering” people to return to the work location.  Instead, develop a communication strategy and alternative working conditions that allow these concerns to be addressed and resolved collaboratively.  Treat all employees fairly and collaborate with them through an interactive process to determine how to achieve a win-win situation for the employee and the business.

Provide a safe workplace

The employer, as always, has a legal obligation to provide a safe workplace for their employees. This means following all local, state and federal guidelines and regulations to meet safety standards in the workplace.  This includes but is not limited to social distancing, remote work when possible, disinfection of worksite, monitoring the health of the staff, and communicating timely and honestly about positive test results in the workforce that require quarantine or migration back to remote working conditions to avoid the spread of the virus.

Establish new processes and practices

Establish policies to handle the new work processes and practices and provide training to all people leaders and the employees. Failure to communicate consistently, transparently, and timely with break down trust, respect and engagement leading to employee relations issues that you really don’t need right now on top of all the other challenges your business is facing.

Remember your obligations to keep certain matters confidential, to protect the rights of your employees, and to ensure their safety while under your management.  The more effective you can be as leaders during this crisis the more evident it will be that you become an employer of choice who treats people with dignity and respect which leads to community approval and sustainable business success.

Wishing you all good health and safety during these challenging times.

Warren Cook is President & CEO of SymbianceHR. He can be reached at warren@symbiancehr.net or 215-528-9979.