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How to prepare your workforce for the post-lockdown period

May 27, 2020

Tips for preparing your workforce for the post lockdown period

Sarah Danzl, Head of Communications and Client Advocacy at Degreed, discusses how business leaders can support their employees during the next phase of the shutdown.

We’re nearing the next phase of the shutdown where businesses will begin to open up again and our work lives, by and large, will return to some normality. Albeit with increased public health measures and a potential economic fallout from the shutdown. Business leaders now face a new challenge, in restarting their workforces and output, while balancing the needs of their people, addressing any fears and concerns, and meeting the new expectations and restrictions within wider society.

Make no mistake, your people will drive your business’ recovery. So any post-shutdown strategy must put their wellbeing front-and-centre. To help you prepare your workforce for the next phase, Degreed has created a step-by-step checklist:

1. Re-assess your business strategy: take stock of your immediate challenges and opportunities and how this impacts your business goals and other strategies (such as your talent development or employee engagement strategy).

2. Set up processes to respond rapidly: the coming months and years will be volatile. Develop processes to constantly monitor for external changes and quickly pivot your plans. Pay close attention to public health and government announcements.

3. Establish clear lines of communication: transparency will be key in the coming months to alleviate concerns and prepare your workforce. Invest in tools and processes that improve and streamline crisis communications at all levels, especially for feedback from the frontline.

4. Invest in internal mobility, not recruiting: 54 percent of people will require some form of upskilling by 2022. This hasn’t stopped because of the shutdown. Track the skills that you need now, to ramp-up production again, then look longer-term at what skills your organisation will need in 3-5 years. Then consider how you can get those skills from your existing talent, instead of looking externally by-default.

5. Build an agile workforce: having a workforce that can rapidly respond to market changes will be a competitive advantage. Consider your on-demand talent (contractors, alumni, and freelancers for example) and how you can improve internal mobility, cross-departmental collaboration, knowledge sharing, and upskilling.

6. Reflect on working practices: decide what working practices are well-suited to your organization and desired by your workers – that might be fully remote working, greater flexibility, or a combination of on-site and remote. Then change what’s not working.

7. Prioritise your people: it is and will continue to be, an unsettling time. Especially because “normal” is a thing of the past. Digital transformation has been accelerated years and day to day operations of most organisations will be forever changed. Consider how your organisation can support your workers’ physical and mental health, from extra time off to providing PPE and financial advice to online counselling or mental health apps.

8. Evaluate your technology: assess how effectively your tech stack has supported your business during this time and whether you need to invest in other tools to empower your distributed and agile workforce.

This period will go down in time as one of the greatest evolutions in business and through the stress, there is much opportunity in front of us. Everything has changed, from the way we work and get tasks done, to where people work from. Businesses will be defined by the way they treat their people during this time, especially as production begins again. Those that remain people-centric, that support them in every aspect of their work, will be on the right side of history.

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