The Covid-19 pandemic has simultaneously become the biggest disrupter of workflow and the greatest accelerator of workforce transformations in our generation. It has substantially redefined a host of societal practices and upended everything including the traditional office workplace. The standard 9-to-5 office hours could become a thing of the past. Never again will there be a return to normalcy in the way we work, exercise, shop, learn, and communicate.
This pandemic has triggered the collapse of businesses, caused hiring freezes, and led to a large section of the working populace operating from home or remotely. Whilst technology has come in handy to save the situation for a lot of businesses in Ghana, Human Resource (HR) practitioners have mostly been caught off-guard in adapting to the ‘new normal’ and exacting high performance from their teams.
To stay abreast of the times and prepare adequately for the massive transformation and disruptions at the workplace, the team at Jobberman has come up with three key areas HR practitioners must focus their energies on in these ‘abnormal’ times.
1. Adapt to Technology
Since the advent of the computer age, technology has been cautiously welcomed, especially by employees who see it as a threat to their jobs. Most employees tend to think robots and apps may soon take their jobs away from them. But this pandemic has taught us a useful lesson in showing that we can effectively collaborate with technology to optimize productivity. To the HR practitioner, there is no need to be coy about the changes technology brings to the workplace.
Adapt and embrace it to ramp up the declining performance of your team. Since social distancing has limited personal contacts, use remote working tools like Zoom, Slack, Trello, and other productivity tools that can help your team effectively work remotely and continue to communicate with each other. With an effective virtual work and meeting platform, not only does the home office model work to near-perfection but also, it protects employers from interrupting their business and prevents employees from losing their jobs.
2. Invest in Training
Henry Ford allegedly once said, “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.” This statement, regardless of who its true author may be, will never lose its relevance. The statement highlights the benefits of training to both employers and employees. Training helps companies achieve their goals, while also giving employees the learning opportunities they need to keep moving forward in their careers.
While it is easier to think that working remotely would not need any training, that assumption could be erroneous and employers could be at the losing end. Seeing the impact of the virus and its potential to stay around a bit longer, businesses across the globe are investing in offering both employee and manager programs for their teams. Ghanaian businesses can follow suit by bringing their teams up to speed with the current trends.
Mentoring and coaching services, as well as employee resource groups, could be useful at this time. Behemoths like Microsoft took the challenge a step further by creating a ‘Guide to Working from Home During COVID-19’ which was shared with its global workforce. A version has also been made available to customers as an editable document to use within their organizations and this could be very useful in updating the knowledge and skills-set of your team.
3. Focus on Employee Wellbeing
As much as practicable, employers must focus on the wellbeing of their employees. Whereas business owners are more likely to be consumed with finding solutions to challenges posed by the disruptions of coronavirus, the need to ensure worker wellbeing cannot be overemphasized. With remote working becoming the new normal spurred on by digital tools, the stresses in managing work-life integration could have a toll on employees.
The ‘always-on’ model means that workers, in addition to answering emails, taking part in Zoom meetings, and carrying out other work-related tasks, also have to take care of the family. To keep the team productive and in the right frame of mind, employers have to ensure the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being of their workers. Frequent communication, regular check-ins by managers, and the creation of online wellbeing resources, exercise sessions, and podcasts could be crucial in ensuring the wellbeing of the workforce.
Author: Kwaku Agbesi, Head of Jobs, Ringier One Africa Media (ROAM)