There has been much discussion from a professional development and business continuity perspective about what employees need to do in order to acclimatise to their new environment when working from home. While this is important, those at the top of the hierarchy also have a responsibility to support and nurture their talent during this time.
We have been discussing our own tips for working from home during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as how employees can embrace and explore the stress of change during this uncertain period. One area that needs to be focused on also is the role of effective leadership.
With long term targets likely to be disrupted, those in leadership positions will be responsible for a greater number of things than usual during this pandemic, especially those involved in making financial decisions.
Although the Government’s recent announcement of a support package for both employers and employees under the job retention scheme will help, businesses with a short term lack of cash flow will continue to suffer.
Despite all of this, it is essential that leaders have plans in place to support the entire workforce and ensure that operations do not come to a standstill. Here are three ways in which they can do this:
1. Communication is key
Communication throughout an entire hierarchy can make or break a business. Without it, employees become disengaged with both their roles and one another, which can lead to regular mistakes and damaged operations.
According to Fierce, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures, further highlighting the importance of adequate communication.
Now, more than ever is the time for business leaders to put their communication strategies to the test, as the majority of employees set up to work from home for the foreseeable future. Regular conference calls, updates and check-ins on individuals will put the entire workforce in good stead to carry on as normal as possible.
Whether it’s providing guidance, regular updates or even keeping employees in the loop regarding wider business decisions in light of this pandemic, effective communication will help to ease the entire process.
2. Ensure that employees can do their job
It is at this time more than ever where the workforce will be looking to their managers for inspiration and guidance. As progress significantly slowed due to employees working from home, it is up to those at the top of the hierarchy to formulate and implement plans going forward.
While plans will have to be agreed across all levels of seniority to ascertain what needs to be done in the coming months, particularly for client-facing businesses, the responsibility will lie with leaders to ensure that this is put into action.
At MDA Training, we are currently creating digital solutions for the remote workforce. These solutions draw on skills learnt in our typical leadership training programmes to help develop key areas such as boundaries, distractions, remoteness and the impact of change. For more information about our programmes, visit our website here.
3. Prioritise employee wellbeing
This will prove to be an incredibly challenging time for so many employees. Especially for those who are worried about losing their jobs or having to take a significant amount of time off, their morale is likely to be damaged.
As we’ve previously discussed in our blog on improving employee wellbeing during this pandemic, ensuring a healthy work/life balance and encouraging self-care among the workforce will go a long way. It is easy to think of coronavirus as just a physical disease, but many will suffer mentally as a result of their disrupted work routine and new ‘normal’.
The most effective leaders will put steps in place to ensure that every employee has the tools they need to carry out their roles while continuing to check-in on them.
While the coronavirus pandemic will no doubt pose one of the biggest threats in recent memory to businesses across the world, the most effective leaders will have the necessary tools in place to weather the storm and come out through the other side.
There is no shortcut to inspiring and motivating employees in this respect; leaders have an extra responsibility to ensure business continuity by managing their workforce to the best of their ability.