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Leading in crisis requires agility in our response. As entrepreneur and Shark Tank investor Mark Cuban said, “"How companies respond [in this pandemic will define their brand for decades. If you rushed in and somebody got sick, you were that company. If you didn’t take care of your employees or stakeholders and put them first, you were that company.”"
As healthcare concerns continue to grow, the view of what an ‘office’ looks like is also transforming and has now become an extension of every employee’s home. Whether it’s deploying the business continuity plan, figuring out a way to serve customers, or even as simple as celebrating a colleague’s birthday, companies now have to rethink the entire employee experience. All these activities are being done in an extended environment and in platforms and devices that go beyond company-issued software and laptops. The question now is how should companies stay on top of employee communications, maintain strong collaboration and still continue to achieve business results?
"As healthcare concerns continue to grow, the view of what an ‘office’ looks like is also transforming and has now become an extension of every employee’s home"
Over the past year, TalentView has crafted a framework for an Extended Workplace Design to define our own pivot into the future as well as to provide the same guidance to our customers. This has enabled us to look through an employer branding lens and evaluate six critical areas that influence new ways of working so we can work effectively and remotely.
Enhanced Leadership Communication
• Let leaders define the reality of the organization (What they need to know as leaders, wWhat is being monitored by the company, wWhat will most likely change, etc.)
• Deploy (or develop) your crisis communication plan
• Mobilize your leaders to disseminate critical information on the crisis to teams and subteams
• Take an audit of all your technology platforms, are employees using formal and informal channels of communication? Do they overlap? E.g., WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber, and Email
• Assess your capability to continue business operations using these platforms, knowing it will run on personal devices
• Reinforce policies that comply with your data management standards and encourage proper use of tools and technologies to serve customers
Culture and Collaboration Mindset
• Point your team to the right sources of information (e.g., World Health Organization, News websites, Hospital websites, etc.)
• Rethink how your current tools can be improved to fill the gap in communication (Do new tools need to be put in place? Are there platforms that bridge the gap of easy-to-use and secure-to-use?)
• Engage employees the way you would in your office (e.g., celebrate birthdays, acknowledge milestones and achievements, run a tik-tok challenge, company bingo, etc.)
Reliable and Secure Connectivity
• Check on each team member’s level of access and communicate the importance of connectivity during the crisis
• Conduct a QA of the flow of information top-down and bottom-up (Is the information compromised? Are goals being accomplished on time?)
• Focus on home networking tools that support participation to internal meetings and external events like trainings, webinars, and new ways of working with each other
• Revisit your business objectives and make sure all processes are positioned to support these goals
• Spot broken workflows or overlapping ones (e.g., Filing of multiple forms that have the same purpose) and bridge these with new processes and technologies if/when possible
• Implement new ways of working across the organization, whether it is repurposing your existing technologies or acquiring new ones
• Speak with your leaders on the effectiveness of the business continuity plan (What other things need to be addressed?)
• Assess the speed at which communication reaches your entire organization
• Make the necessary adjustments and realign your entire organization
The perception of who you are as an employer, or your employer brand, now hinges on the company’s ability to foster a safe, supportive and productive work environment (in that order). As such, we have also seen how employer branding has moved up in priority to the C-suite level because of its impact on talent attraction, engagement, and retention. Alignment, not advertising, is the key to an effective employer brand. It is an active strategy that is led by HR but is also driven at the leadership level across the organization.
In a recent study by Salesforce, 86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures. It is therefore vital that across the six areas of the Extended Workplace Design, the company’s employer brand is reflected. Don’'t use this crisis as an excuse for lack of collaboration. Uncover opportunities for growth, individually and collectively. And instead, let this crisis define your brand and reinvent your culture for years to come.
Anj Vera is the CEO of TalentView, an employer branding firm that helps companies get noticed and loved through their talent brand. She is also the author of ‘Rethink Recruitment’, a book that encourages people leaders to shape the future of work by first understanding the talent landscape today and shifting their focus to the candidate and employee experience. Follow her on LinkedIn here.