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The pandemic has taught many tough lessons to entrepreneurs, but the most important one is: "If you don't care about your employees, they don't care about your business."
It hurts to say, but as an interim CHRO and HR consultant, I've seen companies survive or die within weeks of being caught off guard. I have also seen others take this opportunity to survive, despite an unprecedented challenge to budgets, revenue and customer bases, even mental health.
In each case, the company's commitment (or lack thereof) to its people and strengthening its human resources department was the X factor.
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What a difference six months can make. Nobody could have predicted the impact of the pandemic that would force remote working, digital transformation overnight, and a smile at the end of zooms. But anyone still in the business now understands that effectively managing and empowering employees from a virtual distance is a different ball game.
And whether you like it or not, regardless of your thoughts on HR, it is at the heart of the struggle for survival and planning for future growth. It is time for culture and strategy to have breakfast, lunch and dinner together or otherwise.
In our brave new world, you shouldn't treat HR as a cost center or a talent trap or perish.
What do fast-growing companies need to do to empower their HR departments and employees to do the best work of their life and increase productivity and profitability after the old, office-centric HR playbook is out of date?
1. HR must become real
Authenticity has never been more important to managers and managers. Everyone is injured, quarantines are in place, schools are closed and vacations have been canceled. Acknowledge the pain (hers and yours). Treat everyone like adults – adults who can easily choose to work in an even larger number of other companies because everyone is distant and can work from anywhere.
Regularly contact your employees (phone, slack, email, whatever they prefer) to make sure they stay physically active and mentally healthy and have what they need to do their best work at home. Install plug-ins on Slack to monitor employee sentiment and engagement. If it's safe, socially distant, permissible, and doable, you'll find a way to meet in person from time to time. Personal connection and confirmation are more important than ever.
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Offer a friendly word and help people improve themselves as professionals and people without waiting for reviews. Intervene as needed to pick someone up, clear up confusion, free up time, and solve logistical problems.
Paradoxically, the greatest distance can bring executives, managers and employees closer together than ever before.
2. Suspend competition ban
They are banned or ignored in many jurisdictions that are top work goals and are too often unduly restrictive, especially for subordinate employees.
3. Give useful advantages instead of tricky advantages
If you are not sure, ask your employees! Err on the side of strong health benefits, low co-payments for telemedicine, generous (but not unlimited) vacation days and robust solutions for mental well-being (24-hour counseling, employee support programs, care kits for pregnancy, paid fertility treatments, replacement children and adult care), legal Services, flexible days, generous parental leave.
4. Create a more agile and internally mobile workforce
Encourage managers to list projects company-wide for help from other departments and ambitious people who want to prove themselves. Help people break out of tight job descriptions and advance their careers. Train them on career paths within the company and contact managers and executives to proactively pave the way.
Track progress with a performance management solution that creates a continuous conversation between managers, employees, human resources and managers, helping to create transparency and meeting everyone's expectations in terms of work performance, development areas, career development, promotions and salary increases in Reconciling. If possible, provide instant feedback, log it, and track it on a schedule to ensure progress.
5. Hire a diverse staff
As a core principle (and driver of profitability), work to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace by actively hiring, promoting and opening seats for People of Color. Then hire to align with the more inclusive culture mentioned, rather than just skills and experience. Help different talents share their stories on camera.
6. Get employee trainers
Let employees coach on performance, professional and personal development, become new managers and executives, improve performance and productivity. Get LinkedIn Learning or other resources to keep learning. Create a book club. Provide regular training for managers and employees (and record and publish them on the intranet) by mixing virtual lunch-and-learns from employees, trainers and managers as well as (possibly) external locations. Help people improve and reinvent themselves, and then help your business benefit. Bake learning and group participation in performance reviews.
7. Imagine the work experience again
Create (or recreate) your employee experience from scratch to optimize every part, including candidate experience, onboarding experience, performance and payroll experience, open and anonymous channels for internal communication, instant feedback and quarterly performance reviews, employee surveys , relevant rewards and recognition (both peer and management-oriented), affinity and mentor groups for employees, internal mobility programs, standardized promotions, increases and total compensation bands as well as exit interviews and alumni programs.
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8. Be authentic
Create an authentic, employee-oriented employer brand. No more Glassdoor reviews. Help your employees become your best ambassadors by consistently doing the right thing and treating them well.
9. Be flexible
An HR tech stack that is flexible as your business grows. Make sure your systems (ATS, On-Boarding, HRIS, Payroll, Benefits, Intranet, Slack / Teams) are easy to use, collect and report the right data to make business decisions and talk to each other (APIs are your best Friends). Oh yes, and don't forget to tie your human resources department (especially talent acquisition) to your financial model.
10. Involve your employees
Let your employees record all their processes and playbooks for the internal wiki on video.
In the end, HR doesn't have to be rocket science, painful, or overly expensive. Treat people well and help them grow. In return, they grow your business.