A panic-stricken workforce, as the world braces the COVID-19 or the Coronavirus, is being strongly felt. Leaders worry about business continuity plans, making remote work possible, treading regulations on safety, employee welfare and reputation at the same time.
Employees worry for their immediate families, aging parents, children and friends — walking the thin line of work-life balance. And while the virus slowly makes way into different parts of the world, what do organizations do? Or what could they do?
Organizations differ so much in the type of customers served, business models and time zones, that NO ONE answer seems to fit every organization’s needs.
In spite of the precautions being undertaken, there is a constant, relatively unaddressed emotion — Fear — every person is dealing with. Can anyone, leave alone organizations, operate, ideate, or thrive in the presence of such a potent emotion?
Harbinger — in times of uncertainty and COVID-19
For the 800+ people company that Harbinger is, it was evident how uncertain the future was, not just for the business economy but even for individuals associated.
To address these questions, inhibitions and fears, Harbinger conducted an entirely online townhall attended by over 500 employees and the senior management. All everyone had to do was to login from their desk and participate in the online webinar, effectively diminishing the need to physically gather a large crowd.
An online webinar which sounds so normal and commonplace these days, took employee engagement levels to a new high during an action packed one-hour discussion.
Questions were asked, fears were thrashed, and a lot of uncomfortable discussions and ideas were taken up too — just like a real in-person townhall is. Only that this one was entirely online.
What difference did an online townhall make? Afterall, it is in fact a simple online webinar. Here’s some of our lucky findings:
– Employees were not skeptical of attending, because they could attend it from anywhere, knowing that they’re safe.
– Unlike an in-person townhall, a lot of employees did not have hesitations to ask questions, because Q&A features were completely anonymous. In fact, for a few uncomfortable concerns, it turned out to be a way of vent for some employees.
– Participating in multiple polls interspersed with content from speakers, led engagement to a new high, as employees could see real time results.
– The online webinar options let the panelists to deal with each question one at a time, without having to switch between windows — allowing a lot of decorum and connection.
Building a remote workplace environment in times of COVID-19
The online townhall was a learning experience about virtual collaboration. Virtual meetings are successful when we have decent collaboration software that lets employees interact in the flow of work. For example,
Need a quick clarification on work and need to speak to a co-worker? Quickly breeze through the project’s FAQs channel OR DM your colleague.
Can’t understand a concept? Query your Team dashboard and find multiple learning resources connected to your company’s learning platform.
Want to motivate your team members? Send them fun quirky badges and other gamified content to keep the work spirit alive!
Have an HR query? Speak to the employee assistant bot, that will guide you, just like a HR person will. Or even connects you on call to a real HR executive!
Why, our own employee assistant bot is coupled with a nudge learning tool, that edges employees to go learn something interesting every single day. Plus, these everyday systems are integrated with attendance systems, performance management systems and even ATS platforms, so that even talent management, learning and development teams are better enabled with technology.
A capable HR ecosystem — our answer and possibly everyone else’s too
HR departments need to step up and strengthen their recruitment software ecosystem to have added offerings from video interviewing, automated resume shortlisting, advanced assessments to online onboarding. And this is not just for times when social distancing is being promoted but also for when the world resets post the outbreak.
For day-to-day work, virtual mentoring via one-on-one meetings, and tracking of coaching discussions and exhaustive to-do’s is a must have.
A lot of software resides in HR departments that are still disconnected, and sometimes just fixing some of those many tiny connections between platforms can bring in a lot of efficiency too.
Employees too, while maintaining their safety, have the onus of staying accountable, exercise time management, and learn to proactively solve their problems. It’s a collaborative effort. And as long as everyone pitches in, dealing with the virus will remain a doable task. What do you think?