Insights Discussion: COVID-19 Response: Supporting Those on the Frontlines [VIDEO & RECAP]

By Perceptyx - April 24, 2020

Employees on the front line of COVID-19 face many new challenges. For most, there have been major changes to the way work is performed, how decisions are made, and the communication and level of involvement from leadership and key stakeholders. Major unexpected change is especially difficult, but these changes have pushed essential front line employees and their supporting functions to demonstrate agility, grit, creativity, and resilience like never before--and as leaders, we need to be especially responsive to the ever-changing nature of their needs. 

During this week’s insights discussion, we sat down with a panel of HR leaders from four different enterprises, each with a significant number of employees on the front lines, to discuss their approaches and lessons learned along the way.

So what are the key insights we took away?

Your employees (and their creativity) are your greatest asset

Employees will provide insight and great ideas when given a voice and proper channels to speak up, and one of the most important things a business can do is create a culture where fresh ideas are cultivated by employees and championed by leaders. Because of unique individual differences and visibility to different parts of business operations, employees have a unique point-of-view for tackling the barriers to success. While companies can encourage managers to gather ideas from their teams, the process is more systematic and simple through formal listening tools such as always-on surveys.

Don’t take away or pile on more -- Make the most of what you have

Providing great care to your staff and improving operations in response to COVID-19 doesn’t always have to impose additional cost to the business. In fact, you probably already have most of what you need. The challenge is how you creatively and effectively mobilize untapped resources. Look for new ways to leverage your existing resources--both human and physical resources. Many organizations have successfully experimented with methods of mobilizing roles not considered mission-critical in the short term to different areas of the organization starved for resources. The remobilization of employees to new short-term work also provides several long-term benefits, including exposing your employees to new parts of the business to better understand how their typical function fits relative to the entire operation.

This best practice applies to systems and tools as well. Organizations have effectively leveraged tools such as social media, employee surveys, and LMS systems in unconventional ways--while keeping a focus towards strengthening communication and aligning the organization to current strategic objectives.

(The right type of) Communication is key

The importance of communication is a no-brainer, but the correct medium, tone, frequency, and content are contingent on the context. Two months ago, it would have been overkill to have a weekly all-hands address from the CEO and other senior leaders to discuss current state, challenges, and successes, but the companies who have bulked up these kinds of communications have done so with great success and reception from employees who want to know: How did we get where we are today? How are we doing now? Where are we going from here? What is the strategy--and how can I help?

Trust your people

The biggest asset to an organization is its people--in fact, an organization is nothing without its people--and one of the most important ways to support people is through trust. Now is a time to take a break from overemphasizing productivity and metrics. Business needs are changing quickly and are not always visible to those who have been key decision-makers in the past. The best way to support some employees now is to provide space for them to manage challenges more directly. Trust that employees have the insight and skill to know what they need now, recognize the unique needs of their portion of business operations, and make appropriate decisions managing their time and attention without wasting time with heavy oversight and approvals. Pushing decision-making power downstream, and closer to the front line, increases organizational agility and engenders increased trust from employees as they’re empowered to give their best for the organization. 

Find action planning guides, related blog articles, information on COVID-19 pulse surveys, and more on our COVID-19 Response Resources page.

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Seeing The Way Forward

The Perceptyx platform gives you the flexibility to adapt your listening strategy to rapidly changing real time events. Combined with support from our analytics experts, our platform can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your people’s needs, so you can provide the support they need during these uncertain times. Get in touch to see how we can help your organization navigate successfully through the COVID-19 pandemic.

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