Over the last few weeks, COVID-19 infection cases have been increasing thwarting our recently rising hopes of going back to the office. With the recently announced restrictions of movements and need for extra precautions, the labour market has been affected and will have to make some changes in some areas. This article examines some areas that Kenyan employers may need to look into.
a. Productivity versus activity
Is your team busy or productive?
Quite a number of organizations have now embraced the working from home culture. This has eliminated the managers’ role of physical monitoring to ensure that every employee is working towards the long term goals of the company.
The pandemic has made business leaders see the impact of their engagements over the years and rearrange their priorities. Now, the focus is shifting from mandatory 8 hours each day and ticking activities off the to-do list to the impact of each action on the main goals. Many business leaders have now embraced that being busy is not equivalent to being productive because when people are working from anywhere, then they can do anything to tick off the hours. They are slashing out the mundane tasks and developing a laser-sharp focus on the main objectives.
b. Mental health care
The need for mental health care in workplaces is almost becoming a cliché. But its essence has not declined even by an inch. Improving the literacy levels will allow people to recognize signs of suffering early and seek help early. It will also break the stigma surrounding some challenges. A stigma-free environment leads to a good workplace culture where people can collaborate, increases a sense of belonging, and improves employees’ concentration and performance.
c. More safety precautions
Just a few months ago, there were rumours that COVID-19 did not exist and it was a scheme to siphon funds. As a result, some people were hesitant to take the recommended preventive measures and only doing so while under close observation. But recently, its effect has been felt in the country through the increasing mortality rates and healthcare facilities’ inability to accommodate a large number of patients. As an employer, your insistence on upholding safety precautions and revamping the strategies in the workplace will ensure protection for all. Safety precautions can also be creating a platform where employees can raise their concerns of harassment by their colleagues.
d. Upgrading the skills
In this context, the pandemic has brought three aspects to light. The first one is that skills ought to be distributed. The luxury of knocking on an expert’s door or calling for a meeting in case of a problem was taken away. Now, employees have to elevate their knowledge levels to finish all projects on time because bombarding one person with queries can cause unnecessary delays on crucial projects.
Second, there is need to learn about technology and the advances. The need for technology has never been emphasized as it has been right now. The trend in the past was to hire a tech team to handle any difficulties. Although that is still necessary, equipping your team with basic tech skills will ensure smooth flow of operations, especially if they are all working from home.
Third, soft skills are essential for easy navigation through professional life. More often than not, business leaders focus on improving the team’s physical skills for excellence in particular roles forgetting that soft skills are as important. The pandemic has revealed in rather unmistakable ways, the essence of both. Whether it is about time management or critical decision-making, it’s time that we slotted these skills in our training plans.
e. Absenteeism management strategies
Travelling and interactions for personal and corporate reasons are still going on. This means that there is still a risk of exposure and the need for quarantining if a situation calls for it. There are several absence management strategies that you can implement. Understand that planning how to keep activities flowing in the absence of your employees does not mean you are wishing for the worst.
The drop in number of infections not so long ago had reignited hope that we would resume the old workplace life. But that is no longer the case. In spite of the numerous communication tools available at our disposal, it is possible and normal for one to feel either a sudden or drastic drop in motivation. In the end, the concentration and performance drops. Brainstorming with your team on how to keep the morale high can increase performance.
How do you ensure that candidates are the right fit for the job and company?
In spite of the economic difficulties, it hasn’t been all doom. New job positions have emerged in some companies and they ought to be filled. The greatest challenge that has emerged is hiring the wrong people unknowingly; some candidates who are after the few positions that are opening up are exaggerating their profiles to qualify only to fall short of expectations and cause losses. With the economic hardships that we have experienced so far, it is best to assign that duty to a renowned recruitment firm.
h. New onboarding tactics
Before the pandemic, onboarding was easy: you call for a short meeting, introduce (almost) everyone, share company information, and leave the new hire to forge relationships. However, with the changes in operations, it can be quite challenging to know how best to welcome new employees and make them feel connected to the team, especially if you are exclusively working remotely. On one hand, you want them to communicate frequently, develop a sense of belonging, and build networks. On the other, you do not want to bombard them with emails, you want them to embark on the tasks as soon as possible, and give them space to showcase their abilities. There is no right or wrong way of onboarding new employees. But with the frequent changes, you ought to think how to make the experience wonderful in future.
Operations in the corporate space will keep on changing as long as we are still battling the pandemic. As an employer, it is advisable that you be alert and flexible enough to make changes where necessary.