Cast your mind back to the beginning of 2020—initially, it seemed just like any other year. We were all welcoming a new decade and what the future could bring. However, after only a few short months into 2020, we were presented with the biggest disruptor to our health, wealth, and happiness that any of us have experienced in our lifetime.
COVID-19 set a new benchmark in global chaos and uncertainty. And, unlike other pandemics, after the Delta variant, and more recently the Omicron variant, it looks like this pandemic is here to stay. All of us must realize and acknowledge that the mutations will most likely not stop and today’s experiences are indeed the new normal.
This provides various challenges for employers since navigating through this effectively is the only way to achieve hiring success, employee retention, and productivity —ultimately the show must go on.
Let’s discuss several key areas that employers must consider in order to achieve the above points and remain profitable.
This is a difficult one, as there are many out there who believe they should not be forced or required to be vaccinated, especially since it is still possible to become sick (even though those who are fully vaccinated tend to have milder cases and much better rates of recovery).
Companies should look at this on an ad-hoc basis depending on the interactions they have with customers, suppliers, and various stakeholders in the business.
Each organization should decide what their specific rule is (be sure to keep up with and follow local mandates and guidelines) and then maintain that stance. Right now, it is a highly sensitive subject, but as a collective, we are going to get through this and there must be a process and protocol for vaccination.
Providing a clear mandate allows your employees, clients, and associates to know where people stand in your company. Even if it gets a level of pushback, it still provides structure and security for those who choose to abide by it, which will only help your employees as they attempt to adjust to navigating this new normal.
Work from home policies
There are still a lot of people who moved to working remotely at the beginning of the pandemic, who wish to continue doing so.
Since we saw that many companies were able to maintain productivity and success with their remote workforce, if this method of working is preferable for an employee, then they should be allowed to continue doing so. But with the understanding that they will still fulfill the in-person work required by the obligations of their role.
At some point, people will venture out to see friends and family, or to just buy groceries, which most likely means they could venture into an office for an afternoon to ensure they are fulfilling their work duties and maintaining relationships with their fellow work colleagues.
Transparency of information
In terms of technology, employment platforms and the availability of data within the market has become much more accessible to jobseekers, which is important for companies to keep in mind.
Know that candidates can now analyze their worth within the employment market by using platforms such as Salary.com, to tell them their value, their competitiveness, and the growth in compensation in the market.
Furthermore, candidates can now easily browse employment sites to see the level of desperation from employers looking to hire, with more signing bonuses being offered than ever across all levels of roles, in all sectors, and geographies.
This level of transparency from technology provides candidates with the knowledge that the market is struggling, which means they therefore have greater value and will actively hold out for roles willing to pay the jobseeker what they believe they’re worth. It’s important to be aware of this in order to both retain and recruit top talent.
It’s fair to say that we initially all hoped that the widely available vaccine would mean that fully vaccinated people would no longer have to worry about getting sick with COVID-19 (or, at the very least, the infection would be mild since no vaccine is 100% effective).
However, even people who are fully vaccinated with both shots and a booster have been getting ill from the Omicron variant. With this in mind, companies have to think about their protocol for when an employee is sick.
The first thing that worker should do is get a COVID-19 test in order to know whether or not it’s actually the virus. The second component is to trace all of the employee’s contact with fellow workers and notify them so that they can get tested. It’s more effective to allow all of these employees to work from home, than to risk having them back in the workplace where they could potentially infect other people.
Be sure to keep up with local government guidelines about when someone can return to a group environment and update company policies as necessary. When in doubt, stick with more rigid guidelines in order to protect your employees and to minimize any spreading of COVID-19 within your organization.
Mental health support
The amount of stress, uncertainty, and worry that everyone has been under because of the pandemic for almost two years now, has been more challenging in some cases than any other period in people’s lives.
Companies must be aware of this and be sympathetic to their employees — have processes in place to make sure the mental support that people may need is available. When a worker is away and sick with COVID-19, they may also experience their entire family or household getting sick with the virus, which would increase anyone’s stress levels.
All of this makes it much more difficult for employees to maintain the same level of rigor with their peers or work.
Companies should look to mental healthcare professionals in order to fully support their workers and help them cope as they adjust to this new normal.
The simplest way to lead companies (and, in fact, our personal lives) as we all adjust to this new normal, is from a place of empathy and compassion.
Do your best to gain a greater level of empathy for those around you. Companies need to truly care about their employees and build policies around the new normal that actually suit the needs of their workers.
Have a strong level of compassion since we are all dealing with new, unknown, unquantifiable challenges that may very well never end — all because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employers that fail to do this will undoubtedly be less successful, and may ultimately struggle to be competitive as a business in their markets.
Organizations are only ever as good as the people they employ, and without the necessary process and protocols in place to properly take care of them, workers will leave, and hiring as a whole will be the ultimate thing that kills an organization, not the virus.
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