As organisations shift their focus from short-term response programs to detailed mid-long action plans to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic repercussions, they should focus on talent retention and management initiatives.
As the global health crisis continues to grow in severity, enterprises now grapple with new complications stemming from the global economic fallout. With all efforts and attention directed towards coping with external uncertainties, businesses might fail to look inward, namely ensuring employee wellness and engagement.
As much as managers need to be accessible and reliable, they should also refrain from overdoing it and remember to give people space. As employees get accustomed to novel working conditions, be sensitive to their mental well-being and offer routine flexibility. Another key consideration to keep in mind is to avoid micromanagement at all costs and trust your remote workers.
Design wellness programmes
Just as workplace premises include facilities like coffee stations or playrooms to help employees unwind and re-energise themselves, stay-at-home policies should also carry an equivalent. With physical activity taking the hardest hit in the daily routine, healthy lifestyle choices are imperative. Think about introducing provisions like corporate access to online workout drills, yoga, and meditation programs to help people break their couch-potato habits.
The absence of a workstation at home means employees mostly end up lounging wherever they find space. Provide one-time allowance packages that enable employees to set up an ergonomically correct home office and avoid spinal distress.
Educate your talent
Now is the time to take a step back, reflect on your business and sharpen the saw. It's essential to observe the trends as they play out, identify cutting-edge technologies that will play a significant role in the post-pandemic corporate landscape and upskill your talent pool. For instance, consider establishing an in-house Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) division if your business is exposed to large amounts of data. This way, you equip your employees with a deep sense of AI/ML technologies as well as do away with outsourcing.
Back when the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, enterprises experienced the same amount of unpredictability as now, if not more. However, the associated dilemma also saw thoughtful leaders adapt and rebuild their businesses to stand the test of time. In fact, Zoho launched its enterprise IT management division ManageEngine in the wake of the 2001 crisis.
Keep up the team spirit
Loss of social interaction can leave people feeling disconnected and subsequently have negative effects on morale. One way to combat this is by encouraging monthly or weekly online team bonding activities, such as virtual Wednesday lunches that allow for non-work discussions.
Another idea is to suggest employees team up and participate in open competitions, like the 'OMAC Covid-19 Hackathon' that took place last month. Such public activities are an added opportunity for remote teams to showcase their skills and present ideas that can create a social impact.
While the concept of remote work has been around globally since the 1970s, the UAE substantially embraced the model only as part of its Covid prevention measures. Before the crisis, only 10 per cent of employees in the region were working remotely 1-2 days a week, according to a report from Dubai Future Foundation. This unexpected shift was a huge culture shock for the employees. As they reel under the effect and rethink their priorities, how businesses take care of their workforce now will determine whether employees decide to stick with their current employer in the post-pandemic era.
Hyther Nizam is President MEA, Zoho Corp. Views expressed here are his own and do not reflect on newspaper's policy
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