As the prospect of a lockdown (to some extent) starts to loom, it is important to prepare your plan of action on how your business tackles the coming weeks and months.
The key is to ask the real and difficult questions:
1. How much can my business sustain a partial or full closure, financially speaking? This should take into account loss of income against outgoings (salaries and wages in particular).
2. How can we soften the impact of employees – examples can include pushing closures as late as possible (without compromise employee health and safety), reducing hours gradually and working out which employees can continue to work from home if possible.
3. What are our worst-case scenarios – will measures such as temporary lay-offs be required, (or redundancies in the worst case) and how do we balance between keeping the Business afloat in choppy waters versus how to keep our employees from feeling the full force of the financial impact? And how do we avoid the worst-case scenario by taking measured steps?
It is vital to engage your team at every turn in this type of period, being transparent and honest about each stage without causing mass panic. Some tips:
1. Send out communications earlier than required, to start painting the picture – we are in unprecedented times, so solely sticking to mechanical legal timelines will inevitably cause more anxiety.
2. Break you steps down in phases – it is easier to drip feed difficult news to your team, rather than throw everything in one go. That way you allow each person to comprehend what is going to happen, and plan their next steps.
3. Be open to suggestions and flexible in change – if you are for example allowing home working, the focus should not just be on ensuring your team are totally adhering to every minute of the day – instead let the employee find their feet to the change, and make objectives delivery based rather than purely time driven.
OUT OF SIGHT – VERY MUCH IN THE MIND
Whether your teams are home working or unable to get in to work, small gestures will go a long way.
1. Set up easy communication tools using apps like What’s App or Slack;
2. Have regular update meetings via conference call using phone facilities or video conferencing like Zoom (we use this!).
3. Keep in touch with any vulnerable members of the team, and the team as a whole, checking in to see they are well and their families. The human personal touch will go a long way to keeping spirits up in adverse times.
As difficult as it is, do not lose sight of the end goal. How do you want to shape your business, and what is your People Agenda going to look like? What changes can you, or should you make, to have a more agile people agenda?
Now more than ever we will realise how important our people are to us – and now is the absolute best time to engage and support!
VERY IMPORTANTLY – take the right advice from your trusted advisor, to ensure you adhere to the processes required, achieve outcomes in a legally compliant way, give individuls their rights and come out of a crisis without having to face an even greater task of defending claims based on mis-steps.
If you need any assistance with this, we are here to assist at Simplify ER. Drop us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0203 011 0448 if we can add value to your next steps!