As we move into the next phase of the Covid pandemic, the uncertainty for many businesses is becoming more real. In Australia, JobKeeper has been a very welcome relief for many, with other similar initiatives appearing worldwide.
What happens when it comes to an end?
This week raised more uncertainty as to how long government assistance will run for and what happens to those employees who have been stood down. Businesses are opening up their offices and workplaces again, but there is a hesitancy to rush back into group-based environments.
Clearly we have moved into a tricky time to navigate. A new sense of hope and return to normality is slowly building, but for many employees they don’t know what their new reality will look like.
There have been stories and videos emerging from Airbnb and Bird as to how employees were delivered mass messages of redundancy on video calls. The response has been vast with many feeling there wasn’t much thought for the individual employees and how they would cope with such news.
All is not lost however. There are definitely many things employees can be doing to prepare for whatever the ultimate outcome will be with their job.
If they stay with their employer, they may want more flexibility, an option to to ease into working back in the office, or may need to be redeployed into new roles and tasks.
Worst case scenario – a redundancy in their near-term future.
Here are some ideas on how employers can assist their staff to navigate these choppy waters safely:
- Give permission and encourage your employees to work on their careers. I meet so many people who feel like they can’t openly talk with their managers or HR teams about their career dreams and plans. Now is the time to open up these conversations and empower them to take control of their career and take action. Provide opportunities for them to work on their career.
- Allow time for them to undertake their own re-brand! Free up some time in their calendars to work on their professional branding. Provide some guidance as to what “Quick wins” they can make on their LinkedIn Profile and Resume / Bio. How they can prepare for whatever happens? A number of people I have spoken to who have been stood down have no real direction on what they can be doing during this time. Many think they should sit back and wait to see what happens. There is so much work and research they can be doing on themselves, on options, on transition, even reskilling & upskilling.
- Embed Self-Reflection. There are many free tools we use in our coaching practice to help with self-awareness. These include values and strength assessments, wellness surveys and check-ins with coaches, mentors and leaders. With everyone feeling a bit uncertain and maybe insecure, it is good to help people look inward and think about what they love to do, what their strengths and values are. How they can support others in their teams or across divisions?
- Have clear communication channels on what the future may look like in the organisation. Mass panic within your staff is no good for anyone, but it is important that they are kept up to date as to what the future may look like. Even at a high level. I was on a webinar last week about Scenario Planning with 4 different ‘futures’ laid out. None of us know what that future holds but providing your employees with a number of scenarios will help them start to plan for each one. Catch the curveball, don’t let it fly past.
- Offer Options. I am hearing of many organisations having cut work hours, reduced salaries and standing down employees. Make sure you have a range of options they can choose from to move forward. Make them feel important in making these decisions – foster empowerment. A CEO forum I have been involved with during Covid had one CEO mention how different team members reacted to the news of pay cuts. Some took it extremely well feeling they still had a job and others reacted negatively feeling very hard done by. Planning for reactions and offering support around these will maintain a calmer culture.
With early intervention and support from Management and HR, if the worse case scenario of redundancy does happen, your employees will be in a much better position mentally. Some planning and forethought, will help them be on the front foot of finding their next role.
One lady we coached through our program, called to say she was made redundant. I asked her how she was feeling and she said “Really Excited”. She was totally prepared and knew all her options.
It’s not the scout motto for nothing!