If 2020 taught us anything it’s that people are the lifeline of every business. The uncertainty of last year looks set to rumble on and, although we were all looking forward to a brief respite over Christmas, it is difficult to know just how the future looks in terms of restrictions in the new year. Justin Rix, Partner at Grant Thornton, looks at how business leaders can take their people with them as they continue to adapt through further disruption.
Over the past nine months, businesses have had no choice but to adapt to new ways of working and operating. For most people working from home is now a well-oiled routine but as we start to consider how going back into the office may look, listening to employees and taking into consideration their opinions has never been more important.
Every business will no doubt come away from this difficult period with different learnings, however, how they capture those learnings and build fresh ideas into HR thinking will hugely impact employee satisfaction in the future.
Keeping people focused on priorities
Since March when home working became the norm, businesses have had to change how productivity is measured. This includes shifting the focus from inputs, like time spent at a desk, to outputs, such as activities completed and targets met.
By showing employees you trust them to deliver by giving them flexibility around when and where they work, it allows people to remain focused on priorities. It isn’t clear when offices will start to reopen but as we plan ahead for that time, it is important for employers to listen to their employees and work out a way to continue offering a work-life balance while also ensuring the organisational needs are met. Be proactive in creating opportunities for people to ask questions and share ideas, even when they are working remotely.
Ensuring the right skills in the workforce for the future
The pandemic has driven a rapid change to business models. As firms pivot to do much more digitally, almost half (44%) say they have identified a digital and IT skills gap. This covers a wide range, from data analytics to digital marketing.
If redundancies have become necessary, you may be able to keep employees on by training them for new roles that have emerged. If this is your chosen route, accelerate your workforce planning and assess opportunities for retraining now, as you can’t build skills overnight.
A positive that has come out of this year, is the refocused importance on diversity and inclusion. Lockdown has launched a period of radical social change and demands for greater diversity and inclusivity are growing louder. Now is the time to take a proactive stance in developing a diverse and inclusive workforce that reflects both your customer base and wider society.
This year has shown us that there is a huge responsibility for employers to take care of employees’ physical and mental wellbeing. There is no doubt that uncertainty will remain as we head into the new year but by taking care of your employees, businesses can prepare for the unknown.
For help taking care of your people, contact Justin Rix at email@example.com or call the Northampton office on 01604 826650 or 01908 660666.