Questions Your Company Needs to Be Asking Itself (And Acting On), Now – Part II: The Re-Opening

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You know things are changing fast when something you wrote a month ago, almost to the day, no longer applies. And while last month’s blog post is still worth the read, looking back on it now, with much of the country re-opening and getting back to work, while the general idea still applies, the questions themselves have changed.

During times of great strife and/or quick change, it is beyond critical that employers consider the right kinds of questions they need to be asking themselves and answering as honestly as possible. And sometimes the answer is a disconcerting “We don’t know” …and that’s okay. Of course, the idea is that we do not just leave it at that. “We don’t know” is a perfectly fine answer but is not a good “parking spot”. It’s important not to leave anything flapping in the wind, especially when it comes to the following questions your company needs to be asking itself – and acting on pronto – now that we are coming out of crisis mode:

  • Regarding COVID-19’s impact on your business and employees, are there any hopeful prospects your company is “banking on”, e.g. the development and distribution of a vaccine sooner than later? If so, how much thought has been given to “what if that never happens” and how the company will react accordingly?
  • From your employees’ perspective, how well has your company handled the COVID crisis? How effectively has the company shepherded them through the (hopefully behind us) worst of it?
  • What lessons were learned along the way in terms of potential process improvements, workforce efficiency takeaways and how well assurances given during the crisis were received? More simply, if we were facing the same scenario all over again, what should/could have been done differently?
  • What never-before-considered strengths and weaknesses were uncovered in terms of your company’s relationship with employees (and vice versa)? What departments/teams/individual employees truly shined throughout the crisis? Which ones struggled? And why might that have been the case?
  • To what extent does the company have to “pick up the pieces” now that things are shifting back to a “somewhat normal” state? Were any promises/assurances broken/unable to be fulfilled? How clearly has that been communicated to those most affected, along with the all-important “why”?
  • Has your employee’s trust/faith in the organization shifted since the crisis? Are employees likely more or less loyal because of how the company handled everything? What positive stories and/or deeply appreciated actions could be leveraged in terms of recruitment marketing?
  • Were there (or will there be) clear-cut plans in terms of bringing employees back onsite? Are any/all reservations being considered and addressed?  Is there now an opportunity for those who prefer to work from home to continue to do so?  If not, has a very clear “why not” explanation been crafted?
  • In cases where your company might have stumbled in the way the crisis was handled, how is the “lesson learned” being expressed both internally and externally? What plans are in place to avoid a similar misstep in the future?
  • If the outbreak had been considerably worse than it was (as some predicted), would the actions that were taken by your company have been enough? What would have been required – and what would have changed – in order to weather that particular scenario?

Of course, answers to these questions involve many variables that could be very specific to your business. However, the intended takeaway here is “if you are not thinking about these things now, it’s time to start”.

Ultimately, it comes down to your employees and doing right by them. Normally, that might seem like a given, but employees can be overlooked when things go sideways, especially those known to be dependable and resilient. As such, you might think they are fine with all of this, trucking along, seemingly impervious…but that would be a mistake. This pandemic has and continues to weigh heavily on everyone in a myriad of different ways, so now is not the time to take anything for granted. So, it’s wise to ramp up the engagement and err on the side of over-communicating rather than under-communicating. And if any of this is unfamiliar and/or overwhelming territory for your company, always know that Shaker is happy to assist and help guide you through this time.

Thankfully, we do seem to be in a much better place now than even just one month ago. Forecasts are largely positive and, while the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak will not be lost on us anytime soon – let alone the virus itself – as a country we have weathered at least the first wave of the storm. For that, we should all be grateful, but still mindful of the impact it has had on us personally and professionally. Especially now, with the expectation being that we bring the economy back online and lower the resulting unemployment with reclaimed momentum and smart planning. There are many lessons to be learned from this world-changing event, many stemming directly from the relatively unexpected nature of it. Let us not shy away from looking forward through that lens.

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John Rosean

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