August 21, 2020
The Importance of Remaining Adaptable
by Janica Pierce Tucker, Esq., Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP
As of August 2020, there have been 4,974,959 COVID-19 cases in the United States. With the highest number of infections in the world, the U.S. has witnessed severe disruption to its healthcare system and economy within months of the first media mention of the virus.
Although there is still much unknown about the novel coronavirus, businesses that learn to adapt and innovate during uncertain times will benefit from honing this valuable skill and be better prepared for future periods of disruption.
Here are three factors that businesses should approach with an adaptive mindset:
Health and safety protocols. First and foremost, COVID-19 is a global health crisis, and the collective safety of communities and their individual members must remain at the forefront. Employers should:
Work flows and processes.
- Educate and inform employees of safety protocols that are in place and confirm that safety protocols adhere to local, state and federal guidance.
- Be aware that unsafe work environment complaints are on the rise with certain administrative agencies.
- Implement a process that allows employees to report concerns without fear of retaliation. This can help manage complaints as employers may address concerns and adjust accordingly.
Technology is now at the forefront as a critical tool in maintaining business operations. Employers should implement remote work policies, redesign onboarding and training processes, and identify ways to address the unique challenges employees who are primary caregivers may face.
Businesses should consult with legal counsel before creating policies to mitigate risk. Additionally, employers should work closely with information technology teams regarding heightened cybersecurity as it pertains to client and employee information. Employers should review policies and remain adaptable to the ever-changing environment. Consistency in policy application helps minimize claims of discrimination and unfair treatment.
Culture and engagement.
We are overwhelmed with information, data, opinions and our own thoughts. It is important for employers to provide peace within the storm, when possible; transparency and consistency can build employee trust and boost productivity and engagement. Employers should clearly communicate:
- The importance of safety and communication.
- The company’s financial performance.
- Ways to boost employee morale and stay engaged in the workforce, especially those who are working remotely.
While we have all heard the phrase, “these are unprecedented times,” employers should avoid placing COVID-19 at the center of their business. Instead, employers should be ready to adjust planning and operations to engage employees and adapt.