Work-life, disrupted. Colleagues laid off. Organizational hierarchies reconsidered. Roles redefined. Remote work, ready or not. COVID-19 has ushered in an avalanche of changes for most companies. And many are understandably focused on how to keep business moving forward while reaching isolated customers with the right message to keep revenue flowing.
However, business leaders should not forget the flip side of the brand coin – the Employment Brand. How a company manages the crisis and leads employees through it will have a direct impact on its reputation as an employer post-pandemic. Here are just some of the lenses through which current employees and prospective ones will evaluate performance:
How you kept employees safe and set up for success
How quickly did you make changes that prioritized the health and safety of your teams? How agile was the organization in transitioning employees from centralized offices to home offices? For workers for whom work from home was not an option, what policies and procedures did you implement to keep them secure? And once employees settled into new work scenarios, how was their ongoing wellbeing monitored and cared for – including emotionally?
How you communicated
In times of crisis and significant disruption to norms, there’s no such thing as over-communicating. Teams are facing a new reality that has been forced upon them, and the uncertainty causes anxiety. They are isolated and likely dealing with additional stresses (personal, financial, familial, and more). How your company communicates to the entire team and the individual is essential. Did your company have a plan for regular outreach and feedback? How transparent and authentic was the communication? Was the pace and detail of communication appropriate for information-starved, suddenly-distributed teams? Did team members who picked up the slack for furloughed or let-go colleagues feel supported?
How you handled lousy news and celebrated the good stuff
When communicating, did the company tell it like it is or only share happy talk? Morale in an organization is often a factor of getting ahead of the fallout. It’s better to put the cards on the table and lay out the decision-making logic to clarify the Why and quell any concerns about what might come next. Transparency has never been more critical – for both the bad news and the good. How did your company share wins and keep teams engaged and collaborative when it was needed most? How did your company prepare employees for what the business might look like after the crisis?
How you kept employees engaged & motivated
Having the professional routine and the definition of “going to work” upended can leave people feeling unmoored. Taking extra care to bring virtual teams together regularly to collaborate or to reconnect as colleagues goes a long way to re-energize creativity and lift spirits. Adding skills training and professional growth opportunities can also inspire employees to focus on their continuing career development. What programs did your company put in place to support employees professionally and keep them personally engaged?
How you listened and improved
Having an employee feedback loop is vital during the best of times – it is essential in the most challenging of times. Did you take employee comments to heart, even the ones from the toughest, loudest critics, without reprisals or retribution? Did you monitor Glassdoor and other forums where employees may feel safer to share their opinions and criticisms of the organization? Were suggestions and concerns seriously considered? Were improvements made to the new normal, or not – and either way, communicated and explained with extra care and understanding?
During difficult times, company leaders have to tap into their EQ, think beyond the struggles facing the business and also consider the toll on its most valuable asset – their employees. A company’s actions today may define their destiny post-pandemic, not just in terms of the bottom line, but their front-line as well. For more insights on setting up a successful talent management strategy click here.