Businesses and their employees are being challenged in radical ways. People are being encouraged to work at home or even to take unpaid leave over extended periods as businesses batten down the hatches. Unfortunately, some businesses will also have to reduce workforces.
As a result, individuals are understandably concerned as they are working in unfamiliar surroundings – the kitchen table, for example – and are not even sure that they will have jobs to return to. So, what can businesses do to maintain engagement and the well-being of their staff in these turbulent times?
In my (somewhat biased!) opinion, this is a great opportunity for companies to invest in staff development and support their well-being. Luckily in 2020 we have tech solutions that enable us to do this virtually. Educational establishments are rapidly switching the vast majority of their teaching to this environment and business can and should do the same.
Virtual education, when well-designed and delivered in an interactive and engaging manner can be highly effective. I often hear feedback from virtual participants that this is one of the best learning experiences they’ve had. It also has the benefits of being … ● accessible,
● and environmentally-friendly … without the attendant health risk of having to physically gather with others. These are all benefits to the organisation – what about the benefits to individuals?
To me this is the big win. Employees are able to use this time positively to invest in improving their skill sets. A short training intervention during the day can also help provide structure, reassurance and colleague interaction as people adjust to the challenge of less social contact in their work day. In addition, staff can be reassured that organisations still value them and see a future for them when the world returns to normal, or at least a new normal.
I think that this crisis will ultimately result in a change in the relationship between organisations and their staff. Some of the trends we’ve seen for a long time, like working flexibly from home or using technology to work effectively in geographically dispersed agile teams, will become commonplace. More responsibility for managing their working day and taking the driving seat in their professional development will be given back to staff. Virtual education and technology solutions will play a big role in this.
So, the challenge is to come out of the other side of the crisis individually and organisationally stronger. I am personally optimistic that this is possible. For now, my focus is on partnering with my clients to leverage technology enabled learning that keeps individuals engaged and valued in the months to come and positions their organisations strongly for the future beyond.
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