By Jonas Prising, Chairman and CEO, ManpowerGroup
All of us – our families, our businesses, our communities and our governments are living in unpredictable and fast-changing times. As COVID-19 continues to impact markets, borders and daily life around the world, the speed with which we are receiving news and changing information, by the hour, serves as a constant reminder of how unprecedented this is. It has never been truer that a resilient organization needs to plan for uncertainty and be built for change.
Lead from the front
The health, safety and wellbeing of our people must remain our top priority. In times like these, employees will look to leaders for clear guidance and practical steps to this pandemic. In fact Edelman’s recent report emphasizes just that. Frequent, clear communication is key. In the absence of communication, people will try to fill that void, so providing ongoing reassurance and sharing medical advice and guidelines from reputable sources is very important to keep teams safe and ensure business continuity. In addition to following the instructions you receive from governments and medical bodies, have your own remote working, tech, travel, meeting and operational policies adapted to this changing environment.
Learn from what we’ve seen before to limit the impact
We can also learn from the response of those before us. We are seeing this happening in waves – China and Asia Pacific 8-10 weeks ago, Italy and the rest of Europe, now North America, with other countries and regions to follow. Shelter in force, widespread social distancing policies, tight travel restrictions and clear quarantine rules are already proving to limit the impact, together with strong leadership and proactive communication to get employees and the population on board.
Leaders must constantly review organizational processes that cushion the impact on operations and help employees adjust to new ways of working, prioritizing health while also ensuring the continued delivery of products and services that customers expect so our economy can continue to function. Anticipating and responding to this fast-changing situation day-by-day is key to ensuring your company is agile enough to take the appropriate and necessary steps to ensure both your teams’ safety and the organization’s success.
Leverage tech and tools to work smart
The COVID-19 emergency has demonstrated the validity of smart and agile working around the world. Implementing new shift patterns that keep workers separate, ensuring critical leaders aren’t working closely, and making sure employees have access to the tools and tech they need across all business functions will be critical to managing this unprecedented shift to a remote workforce.
Act fast to flatten the curve
Now is the time for strong leadership and early, resolute action if we are to flatten the curve and reduce the speed of contagion from the virus. That needs to be our primary priority right now, above all else. This is a healthcare crisis first, causing economic hardship in many industries and businesses, especially those that rely on social interactions as part of their day-to-day operations. If we mitigate the healthcare impact, we will alleviate the economic consequences. We do not know how long this situation will last, or the significance of its impact, but we do know that with the right people and swift actions, we can manage this challenge and come out stronger in the end.
Above all, I’d encourage everyone to remember a company’s strength is in its people. Show appreciation to your team, around how much is required to carry on business when the environment is uncertain for us all at work, at home and in our communities. Help people stay calm, healthy and focused and ultimately find new ways to work smarter that might transform how people work and how work gets done in the long term. This is how we can get through this together.