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How Employers Can Prepare Workforce For Post Pandemic Times

The current coronavirus pandemic has hit businesses hard. Organizations are busy assimilating resources and solving immediate problems — from allocation of resources, managing cash flow, to looking after client relationships.

We must not forget businesses will eventually reopen. Employees will return to workspaces. However, the look and feel of places will be different. We might not return to normal soon, but we will be back to normal. Like a good employer, organizations must prepare for the time that will come once the pandemic is over. 

The pandemic came as a shock and left organizations no time to prepare. Post –pandemic times wouldn’t be any different. Fortunately, employers will have time to prepare. Organizations have time to prepare for employees returning to work, examine their potential, and create contingency plans.  

 

Prioritize employee’s health

The pandemic isn’t completely over yet, there’s still a risk for people to get infected by the virus. Employers must prepare themselves to keep employees safe as long as they’re in the workplace. For this plan to be effective, employers must begin now. 

Employers are better off with sick workers at home. What’s important – is the collective health of workers. Employers need to constantly monitor the health of employees and ensure that teams aren’t understaffed. 

Organizations have a record of employees who are on leave due to COVID-19. Employers will likely have an idea of how long will they absent. Companies should use this information for recovery planning. Employers will be able to see where teams might be understaffed and prepare the teams accordingly. Returning to normalcy will be the primary goal for employers. If a team is understaffed due to sick colleagues, the plan should address how will the team manage to accelerate work to bring the state of business back to normal.  

 

Have a contingency plan for possible outcomes 

We’re hopeful economic activity will sooner or later return to normal. However, employers must consider all possible economic outcomes. Your preparedness for all possible outcomes in the future will have a positive impact on employees and drive them to commit their future to you. 

The current circumstances can lead us to three possible futures and employers should ensure that they have a plan for each scenario — 

  1. Quick return to the previous state of the market 

This the scenario where economic activity returns to its previous state quickly. In this scenario, teams would need to work more. Are your teams well-prepared to work without being burning out? Employers should consider resource allocation and hiring to address this scenario. 

  1. Slow return to the previous state of the market

It’s a possibility that return to previous market conditions is slow. People might continue to fall sick for a long period even after economic activity resumes. 

This reality would require considerable workforce agility and as an HR Leader, you need to show you appreciate and reward employees’ willingness and ability to adapt over an extended period.

  1. Return to volatile market

 There’s a possibility that the number of infections begins to increase after the state of the market returns back to normal. In this scenario, employers will be forced to ask workers to stay back at home and resume their previous work from the home regime. To address this scenario, employers will need to show empathy and express their gratitude toward the employees’ willingness to adapt.   

Employers should develop a management plan for each scenario, create an outline of how the workforce will have to adapt. Employers should list how they will support their employees to make adaptation productive and painless.  

 

Prepare for employees to change 

Each person has experienced pandemic differently. According to one study, 50 percent felt lonelier and experienced anxiety during the pandemic work from home period. For the other 50% of workers, switching to work from home was more relaxing and they experienced better work-life balance and more flexibility. 

Employers should consider making work from home permanent wherever possible. Similarly, allow workers who are more comfortable working from the office than at home. This will require employers to re-design their office spaces where safety will be a major priority followed by workers need to communicate. Work from home might turn into a permanent reality for some employers that were able to generate revenue during lockdown while completely working from home. 

The latest pandemic has caused stress to many workers. A recent CDC warning says that the stress caused by this pandemic has put many people at risk of developing depression and other serious mental depression. Companies should be prepared to offer support to workers who seek. Employers should prepare themselves and find means to encourage proactive communication related to mental health care. Research shows less than 50 percent of employees don’t think that their employers prioritize mental health. Employers that don’t offer mental health benefits should prepare to add them among other benefits. 

 

Prepare for post-pandemic life

There’s so much uncertainty ahead, employers need to show confidence with their strategy. If human resource leaders can show employees that they are determined to help them maneuver through tough times, it boosts their morale.

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