In 2020, Uncertainty Reigns Supreme
The uncertainty caused by COVID-19 and the recent civil unrest across the world has had an immediate impact at every level of the U.S. economy. Since the first week of March 2020, more than 20% of the US labor force has filed for unemployment insurance. The June unemployment rate of 11% is a level not seen since the Great Depression. All this before we even begin to talk about long term impacts on various markets or even a second wave that could result in damage that is far more profound. 2020 to date has culminated in rarely-seen uncertainty and angst for businesses and their employees alike.
And Workplace Are On The Cusp
Many businesses need to re-open, but they also have an obligation to support physical and psychological safety. Organizations will have to actively instill both ‘Hard tactics’ and ‘Soft skills’ to weather the storm and drive prosperity.
The Delicate Balance of Reopening
The key to getting back to work is prioritizing the health and safety of both employees and customers in clear, demonstrable ways. Though Coronavirus is a wide-scale crisis as much as it is a personal one, people’s minds will understandably turn first to their own safety. Being able to galvanize different personalities, demonstrate empathy, and build resilience will be essential once employees return to work. Communication is the cornerstone to reopening your workplace in an orderly manner, but Compliance and Psychological safety are the pillars that will help maintain a sense of calm over an extended period.
Compliance and Hard Tactics
The CDC, WHO, OSHA, etc., have all put out the same pieces of advice in regard to NPIs (Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions): practice social distancing, work from home when possible, always wear a mask when outside of the house, etc. With all of these guidelines being publicized, having the right structure, transparent channels, and continued motivation to follow through with these evolving NPIs will be important in maintaining workplace safety while reacting to the pause-and-adjust nature of crisis scenarios.
Psychological Safety and Soft Skills
A volatile business and global landscape calls for a re-evaluation of the skills workplaces develop within their workforce. Soft skills best suit the employee and workforce of the future. They will allow employees to be more adaptive and thus become an asset to their company’s evolving needs and protect their future career prospects.
Hard Tactics to Take
Among other tactics, companies should explore establishing their own “Return to Work Team,” that should include key decision makers with the authority to commit the organization to a specific course of action while also being able to acquire needed resources such as PPE. The goal of this team should be helping facilitate the organization’s goals with no person-to-person transmission in the workplace. The key roles and responsibilities of a Return to Work Team like this could include:
The executive/manager accountable for the rest of the organization.
The operations or production leader becomes responsible for implementing and mobilizing organization’s COVID-19 response.
A procurement expert should be responsible for acquiring the specialized resources required to implement the
return to work program.
An HR leader will be responsible for return to work program awareness, communications, compliance, and
A safety professional, or someone knowledgeable in emergency response provides guidance and should conduct COVID-19 audits to confirm that the return to work program is implemented effectively.
Hard Tactics Continued
A core part of the Return to Work Team needs to be continually collecting information as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds and adapting to remain financially and physically healthy. The end goal of this team structure should be the gradual transition from ‘Return to Work’ to ‘Remain at Work’. Once the team decides how to act, they should do so with resolve to help build the organization’s confidence and keep morale high. So long as these frameworks are followed,
additional ‘tools’ in the form of compliance guidelines can reach their full effectiveness, combating the threat of COVID-19 at every turn.
Soft Skills For Employees & Workplaces
The deluge of job losses, and volatile state of the economy has exacerbated the need for soft skills. To prepare people for whatever comes next as part of reopening the workplace or re-entering the job market, there must be a greater focus on up-skilling and re-skilling. This crisis has shown that the future of skills development is not just technical, but behavioral. Soft skills such as resilience or leadership are ‘power skills’, and this is their finest hour.
Soft Skills in 2020
Soft skills and their relevance to various areas of business evolve but here are some that are best suited for workplaces and their employees during uncertainty.
Team members should be encouraged to express concern, share their thoughts, and provide feedback. Having an outlet to air their worries in a way that ensures they know leadership is listening will increase a feeling of safety. Similarly, having daily or weekly huddles with team members to check in shows empathy towards colleagues within the company and invites them to display it as well. It’s already been shown that 96% of employees believe displaying empathy is an important way to improve retention
Inclusion and Teamwork
Inclusion is more important than ever as workplaces must bring every ounce of innovation and creativity to the table as they compete in an ever-changing market. In an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ environment, we must ensure all hands are, indeed, brought on deck, thus instilling a greater sense of psychological safety. This is especially true for Millennials, the largest generational bloc in the American workforce today as they are more likely to report high levels of satisfaction where there is a creative, inclusive working culture (76%) rather than an impersonal and authoritarian approach (49%).
Innovation, Creativity, and Engagement
Recent Gallup polls have shown how highly-engaged teams reach 21% greater profitability. When employees feel their voice is being heard, they’re almost 5X more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work. Engagement is
especially important when navigating crisis scenarios, both to help with compliance with NPIs as well as making sure employees are contributing to the safety of the workforce. More positively, employee engagement has been shown to be a key indicator of overall creativity and innovation amongst teams. As we reopen our workforce, complex problems will be solved by creative solutions.
A Path Forward In 2020 And Beyond
In a world where uncertainty is the only certainty, preserving any sense of safety and trust is crucial to success. This is where connection between Compliance, Soft Skills, and
Psychological Safety is a crucial and complex relationship that workplaces must master. A deeper investment in new learning strategies is vital to innovate through an uncertain business landscape in 2020 and beyond. Additionally, behavioral technology platforms can overcome issues of speed, agility and scale that has limited traditional solutions.
RevWork’s behavioral learning solutions have been built and evolved over decades of work and are fueled by an unwavering passion to make company culture better. Advances in science and AI are pioneering how we go about empowering companies and people to test new boundaries of innovation. Among the growing list of programs RevWork has rolled out to businesses worldwide
include: Diversity and Inclusion, Remote Teams Engagement, Leadership Development, and Compliance.