The COVID-19 pandemic has created a ‘new normal’ that pushed employers to adopt new business models to keep up with the current situation. In the first months of the pandemic, businesses worldwide are struggling to navigate the remote work setup and finding ways to get a better hold of the situation. This led employers to respond to a range of challenges that require effective and dedicated solutions.
For most employees, the COVID-19 pandemic is an era filled with great uncertainties. The global crisis has changed the way people work, forcing companies to explore ways to remain in business and minimize financial burdens. These include enforcing remote work, skeleton crews, and travel bans in response to social distancing measures.
Cutting costs is another common response among employers to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 in businesses. Unfortunately, this approach raised several workplace compliance issues involving leaves of absence, remote work arrangements, and wage and hours laws. As a result, this pushed employees to seek mediation and arbitration services to resolve employment issues in the workplace.
More than a year into the pandemic, governments are finally easing health and safety restrictions and businesses are slowly reopening their doors. Although this brings good news, employers need to address the core challenges that will inevitably affect the business once employees return to work.
Coping with uncertainty
One of the biggest challenges among businesses right now is adapting to the post-pandemic life where uncertainty, volatility, and change are the new norm. Although lockdown restrictions are gradually easing, employers should know that COVID-19 is still an ongoing crisis, especially in other areas.
Health authorities and governments are still warning people that new outbreaks are still inevitable. In this case, employers should always come prepared for unexpected changes in guidelines and regulations designed to keep everyone safe and avoid further infection.
Due to the uncertainty of the current situation, consumer demand is likely to shift because of health concerns and fast-changing trends. As a result, businesses should find ways to respond to upcoming developments, which will force supply chains to be more responsive and agile.
These sudden shifts may encourage businesses to reassess their capacity in terms of providing flexibility to their employees and assigning realistic workloads. In turn, HR teams should be aware of how the current pressure can significantly affect the workforce. Since physical health is of utmost importance in these times, HR managers should also prioritize employees’ mental health and find ways to help workers cope with the tough circumstances.
Ensuring the health and safety of employees should be the top priority of employers once employees finally return to work amid a health crisis. At the same time, they should also ensure a sustainable and productive workforce to drive the business to be more competitive.
In these times, delivery and pricing are critical to the success of a business. Since people have to rely on delivery services during the pandemic, on-time delivery has become increasingly important to address market fluctuations, consumer demands, and sudden increases.
For instance, businesses selling essential items, such as toilet paper, baking supplies, and meat kept running out of stocks because of hoarding and panic buying. In this case, supply chains should ramp up their capacity to respond to the changing demand without sacrificing profit margins and employee health.
Reassessing HR strategies can also help businesses respond to the current environment. For example, HR teams can create a new work arrangement, such as hybrid work, where employees can combine remote working and on-site work. This will help employees find the best work arrangement that works for them to ensure better productivity.
Employee health and safety
Since COVID-19 is a primary health issue, employers should take responsibility for keeping employees safe and keeping everyone out of risk. Although more people are receiving their vaccine shots, physical distancing should still be a priority in any business.
Physical distancing is particularly challenging in manufacturing industries that require employees to gather on processing and production lines. In this case, plexiglass screens and personal protective equipment should be a requirement in working environments, such as manufacturing, retail, and food establishments. Businesses can also establish their own safety system to prevent the spread of the virus while allowing employees to work safely.
Employers can also apply new policies in response to the setback they encountered during the pandemic. This will help the business produce ideas and resources to help employees safely return to work.
Addressing challenges in the workplace will never be easy, especially during these uncertain times. The best way to support employees while ensuring the success of the business is to balance economic realities and deep empathy. As your business return to normal, the suggestions above can help you navigate the post-pandemic world and ensure employees are happy and motivated.