Use the new changes and challenges in the workplace as an opportunity to be innovative.
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From bottlenecks in the supply chain to inflexible working hours, the post-coronavirus world has uncovered a list of vulnerabilities in what used to be "business as usual". Nowadays, many companies are struggling to introduce new corona virus restrictions while maintaining workplace productivity – especially those that rely on an hourly workforce that cannot do their jobs remotely.
According to a recent survey, two-thirds of executives believe this will be the most difficult moment in their careers. In addition to the headache and costs associated with implementing new processes, the COVID 19 crisis also offers opportunities for innovation. Future-oriented companies “lean” on the chaos and rethink the way they do business.
After COVID-19 we see some trends for the hourly workforce.
Virtual interviews, training and onboarding
During the first wave of the pandemic, demand for team stars, delivery drivers and other key workers increased. This led to a huge recruitment deficit at a time when many states had to stay at home, forcing companies to double their virtual recruitment efforts.
In order to meet the requirements of social distancing, many companies continued to conduct virtual interviews via video chat. To train these new employees, companies rely more than ever on virtual onboarding and training. This month, Walmart opened a new training center in Loveland, Colorado that will offer virtual training on the basics of leadership, security, and supply chain. Community colleges in Alabama are immersed in virtual reality to train skilled workers, and now doctors and nurses are being retrained to treat infectious diseases with VR.
Related: COVID-19 will fuel the next wave of innovation
Contactless interactions and forced social distancing
The onset of the pandemic resulted in a shift to roadside pickup, "contactless" delivery, and to staff based at the doorways to count the number of customers entering. The focus was on customer safety, with less interaction between workers. However, with more and more data available about workplace transmissions, there is a need for technologies to reduce contact between employees ranging from mobile timers to social distancing tools.
Given the concerns about workplace safety, Amazon started using AI to detect violations of social distance. Ford Motors Co. started testing wearables that vibrate when employees get too close. Chicago-based Pepper Construction has introduced AI software to detect clumps of workers gathering on construction sites.
Redefine planning and personnel planning
Absenteeism leads to holes in hourly teams. Even before the pandemic, absent workers cost US employers $ 36.4 billion a year, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control. Citing illness, fear of the virus and problems with childcare, employers report that the number of no-shows has increased.
Entrepreneurs may not be able to alleviate any childcare anxiety or challenge, but they can give hourly workers more flexibility. A study by the MyWorkChoice workforce management platform found that 75 percent of hourly employees would be less worried about going back to work if they could schedule their own shifts up to a 40-hour limit.
Flexibility is a low price for a more reliable hourly workforce. Here's how to manage yours more effectively:
Develop an optimized interview process. While virtual interviews take getting used to, they can actually save you time if you employ a large number of employees. The most time-consuming part of an interview is often to inform the candidates about the position and then answer their questions. If you're doing multiple interviews, you should consider tag teaming candidates to increase efficiency. Let a representative of the HR department or an experienced employee bring the interviewees together in a virtual “room” and then transfer individual applicants to the HR manager for individual interviews. Plan a technology-related learning curve. If you plan to implement socially distant technologies or other tools to reduce contact, you should expect the technology to make things more difficult at first. Don't assume that your employees are familiar with new technologies – even if you are. If you're introducing virtual training, contactless payment, or a new app, take the time to give clear instructions and be ready to fix bugs. Don't be a big brother. The COVID-19 crisis has brought about a number of changes, not to mention many new rules. Mandatory health examinations, social distance requirements and mask mandates serve to ensure the safety of everyone, but can also make a job feel authoritarian. Keep in mind that your employees are still trying to adapt to the changes and old habits are dying hard. Don't make it worse by creating an atmosphere where employees are afraid to socialize or get sneezed.
Related: Amazon develops social distancing tech with augmented reality
Remember: We all navigate this brave new world together. We may not be back to business as usual, but you can still manage an hourly workforce that is healthy, happy, and productive. The companies that will emerge stronger from the crisis are using this time for innovations.