Under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), many employers have taken advantage of crucial financial assistance to maintain employees and salary levels during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the PPP June 30 application deadline approaching, the status of any additional stimulus package remains uncertain.
Employers now face the daunting task of preparing for recovery while navigating "the new normal" on their own. Any change, whether good or bad, can succeed or fail based on how well the employer manages the process.
Successful change management requires effective communication. One way to ensure failure is to keep employees completely in the dark. Rumors fuel misconception, leading to discontent and distrust. Once gone, building back trust can be incredibly difficult.
Start by pulling back the curtain and allowing employees a peak into the organization's thought process. Share concerns and discuss the options being considered so when the final decision is made, employees can at least understand the why, even if they may not agree with the what. Open dialogue and transparency promote togetherness and loyalty. Rather than viewing these as signs of weakness, understand that employees look to their leaders to be human, not superheroes.
Learn from the past
As we plan for a possible resurgence of COVID-19, take time to reflect on the lessons learned. What weaknesses were revealed and what can be reinforced to withstand a second go-round? What options are available to address these areas in the short-term? Looking back can inform how to effectively move forward.
For example, many employers realized their confidentiality, computer use and company property policies were inadequate for addressing employees working remotely and taking company property home. Other employers realized they overlooked employee qualifications needed to succeed in a remote working environment or undervalued the importance of employee engagement activities. Employers now realize traditional business models need significant revision to sustain business continuity into the future.
Merriam-Webster defines "agility" as the state of having the "ready ability to move with quick easy grace" and having "a quick resourceful and adaptable character." Now more than ever, keeping pace with the ever-evolving realities requires employers to embrace and promote agility.
A business strategy should never hinder progress. We simply have no way of predicting the future. Work toward a future goal but be willing to re-evaluate if that goal falls out of sync with the present and adjust accordingly. Staying agile also offers the flexibility to pivot more quickly when unexpected opportunities present themselves.
If nothing else, this pandemic has taught us to remain ever vigilant. We need to rethink our strategies, consider factors outside of our four walls and do our best to prepare for what may come next. Now is not the time to rest on our laurels.
• Selena Castle, PHR, is a business partner with MRA, one of the largest employer associations in the nation, providing resources to 4,000 businesses annually to help them thrive. For more info go to www.mranet.org