By Ken Ferguson, CRO, orgvue
Ask any business leader navigating the impacts of COVID-19 on their organisation and you’ll hear a similar story. It’s one of concern, uncertainty and in many cases, panic.
So, what comes next in this new era? Is there a ‘right way’ to approach working from home and flexible working policies? How will the organisation have to adapt? What’s the key to an empowered workforce?
These are big questions. And they’re not going to be answered overnight. The only certainty that business leaders have at this time is that no-one – including the government – is going to find the answers for them. So, what next? The brightest business leaders, and those that’ll look back on the pandemic and their response with pride rather than discomfort, are those resisting the urge to panic and embracing a new era of management.
What does that look like? Well, one that involves continuous analysis, modelling, planning and execution. Organisations have never been static entities; they continuously evolve and in order to do that, need to be led. After all, it’s in strong leadership and the ability to plan for change that business leaders will find the answers to these all-important questions.
The key to business resilience lies in your team
There is no doubt that workforce productivity and organisational resilience are at the top of every executive agenda. What’s the current status of our operations and their teams? Are they still productive? Where are our biggest risks? How prepared are we for a second wave? How will we come out the other side?
On that last point, the ability to be adaptable through this crisis will separate those that not only survive but grow. That means being able to flex how the organisation is doing business now, but also in the future. One thing, however, is clear; planning for how work has always been done will not serve the business well in the ‘new normal’ once the crisis subsides.
Never has collaboration between finance and HR leaders been more critical to keep the business running and prepared for whatever’s next. Data will also be key to underpinning success, by breaking down traditional silos, assessing strategy and workforce plans in unison. Data will also help to make decisions with greater confidence and with increasing frequency than in the pre-COVID era.
Leading from the front
The importance of better people planning and productivity in organisations hasn’t dwindled just because we no longer see each other in the office every day. In fact, it’s never been more important. Focusing on continuity, even when that involves transforming entire business operations as we’ve witnessed across industries, and keeping everyone productive now will enable businesses to get on the path to recovery or maintain growth, faster, regardless of how long the current situation continues. How? By keeping the muscle of the business intact.
That means protecting the future of your organisation and workforce, while making sure you’re keeping both empowered in the present. Business leaders must commit to keeping an eye on their team’s physical and mental health, especially in the wake of so much change and disruption; make sure no-one’s ever stretched too thinly and above all, keep them in the loop. These factors create a sense of a collective commitment to ensuring the organisation not only survives, but lays the foundation for the future success.
Continuous, reliable and well-placed confidence
The smartest business leaders will have realised by now that there is no one-size-fits-all recovery strategy. And as lockdown measures are eased, the only way to plan with confidence is to accept that the worst of the pandemic isn’t behind us.
What this all boils down to is preparation. Good preparation is the key to mitigating risk and planning for this needs to happen constantly. It’s not a simple case of switching the ‘on’ or ‘off button. Planning the workforce is a constant that must take place within and be built into the organisation’s DNA, rather than reviewing it once or twice a year, this is now an iterative discussion at every executive meeting in light of how the landscape is changing – almost daily in the early days of the pandemic, and certainly weekly now.
Business leaders that get this right will be in the best possible position to ensure the on-going success of the business in these unpredictable times and activate their exit strategy in the coming months. And the rewards for continuous, reliable and well-placed confidence? Well, it’s simple really: agility, confidence and, yes, recovery.