In July we’re taking a look at some things that have changed and/or become more important throughout the challenges, changes and transformation brought on by the virus and related issues. Last week we talked about being helpful, the second week we talked about how businesses can do a better job of working with customers, the first week we talked about communication, and this week as we wrap up we’re going to talk about employees.
So much has changed in the world over the past few months, from people working from home who have never done so in the past to people who are going to work as they’ve always done, but now it’s a possible health risk to do so. There have also been major changes and disruptions in the supply chain which created many questions employees couldn’t answer for customers, even when they usually could have in the past. It’s been an exercise in patience and in working in the unknown that few have experienced before. So what does it mean going forward?
One of the things I think it taught everyone was that an office wasn’t strictly necessary for doing many jobs. Yes, some companies need their employees to be physically present, but I think it opened everyone’s eyes to the fact that as long as you trust your employees and they desire to work from home, working from home at least part time is something that can be done going forward and it will help with stress and environmental impact and reduce budgets too.
Which brings us to the second point, and that’s the importance of communicating and truly partnering with your employees. Companies may not have known when supplies were coming in, but they certainly could give their employees daily updates about what they did know, what was changing or developing and hear from them about what they’re experiencing with customers and their personal concerns, thoughts and ideas as well. For many companies this was a first because they never really communicated with their team about what was going on in the company, and now they were forced to really partner with their employees and see them as team players. I would say that a good percentage of employees have always been willing to be team players, but companies haven’t been very good about tapping into that or working with them and as a result businesses often have high turnover and employees feel unappreciated, unheard and not cared for.
So what is next? My hope is that more companies will ultimately do a better job of talking with their employees and being better about working with them. Maybe this means working at least some from home, maybe this means education in areas that interest them and exposure to different parts of the company, and maybe this means different hours that work better with their home needs. I definitely think companies can and hopefully will do better about keeping them in the loop about what’s going on, do better about empowering them, do better with listening to them and hearing their concerns, suggestions and feedback based on what they see and experience with customers, and do better at treating them as valuable parts of a team.
What changes has this virus inspired you to make with your team?