Our People, Our Community
WRITTEN BY: ERNEST CHU
Life is challenging these days round the world given the current situation. Numerous thoughts are running through my mind daily as I take in what’s happening worldwide during this pandemic and my daily routine as an essential worker at a local dormitory for our foreign workers in Singapore. Hence, I would like to take this opportunity to share my humble personal viewpoints of the COVID-19 impact and challenges that we are facing daily.
The world’s economy is suffering, and it will continue to suffer as long as the COVID-19 virus remains uncontained. Plenty of individuals around us are facing numerous changes to their daily routine; especially with work and more significantly, the ability to support for both themselves and their loved ones financially.
For those bestowed in leadership positions within the company, most are currently faced with their own unique set of challenges to keep the business alive. It is easy to be a leader when things are going well, but much challenging to lead when things are going poorly (Kholl, 2020). By riding through this storm we are all in and we are all hoping to emerge stronger than before.
Fortunately, there are reasons for positivity during this storm with companies responding with sincere empathy by being agile and innovative to remain connected with their people. For example, hosting a Zoom dance party! It is genuinely heartening to witness companies and their leaders fight the COVID-19 challenges with such inspiration, temperament and compassion.
More and more organisations around the world have showed their empathy by stepping up. Amongst numerous uplifting examples, there are organisations seen making donations to the health care sector, converting their factories for the production of medical-grade hand sanitizer, face masks for local hospitals and even foregoing or lowering their salaries to take care of frontline employees.
Through such uncertainties, Kholl (2020) mentioned that physical and mental health, financial stability, and job security top the list of many concerns of employees. Leaders of these people need to address and help them in meaningful ways. How businesses of every scale respond during this COVID-19 pandemic will have a long-lasting impact on many elements. For instance, having leaders to target the employees’ wellbeing and concerns will allow employees to feel more secure, resulting in better employee engagement, efficiency and allegiance to the organisation.
As a leader, my top priority would be to take care of my team’s well-being. Boosting their moral during such period is crucial in ensuring corporate efficiency, productivity and effectiveness. Creating the human element needs to bumped up. A dangerous misstep in management during this midst of many changes and uncertainties is to have the assumption that everyone is on the same page. Actions to be taken will also include creating scheduled meetings with the team working from home to ensure that everyone is consistently in the loops for updates, expectations and the next steps that the organisation is taking. Inclusivity and communication will help to build connection and a sense of workplace community. Being a leader, it’s vital to organise one on one check-ins with each team member to create a chance for members to share personal concerns in a private setting, if necessary. This helps to create the personal touch and it also reinforces to the employees that the organisation and their leaders cares for their wellbeing as well.
Following that, it is important to help the team ease into the transition phase of working from home. Many organisations are shifting to compulsory work from home policies. Some are welcoming to this change. However, for others, they could be feeling stressed out or even finding it hard to adapt to the new working environment at home. This could essentially result in them feeling demotivated and subsequently, a loss in work output efficiency. Caring for mental well-being is equally as important as maintaining physical health. The mass media announcements with regards to the current pandemic can easily influence more panic than notifying its audiences of the latest updates. Social media also can aggravate feelings of negativity, anxiety, and bleakness. Hence, it is important for leaders to consistently check on their team to ensure that their mental wellbeing is cared for.
These morale-boosting efforts should also include some level of assistance for employees which brings us to the following point. Organisations should be transparent with their employees. Should the company be facing cash flow problems or difficulties to keep or pay all of their employees, leaders should be upfront in communicating it to their team tactfully. Instead of retrenchment, the management could look into alternative ways to help solve this temporary problem. For instance, in Singapore, the Ministry of Manpower has encouraged organisations in dire need, to take temporary measures such as redeployment, shorter work week or temporary layoffs (Government of Singapore, 2020). This may essential help to save employees from being jobless during this period of time.
However, should retrenchment be necessary to some employees, the HR team or their direct bosses could continue to help them during this period of transition. They could link them up with potential hirers or assist them in revamping their resumes and Linkedin profiles.
Yes, this is indefinitely a challenging trying time that is affecting everybody. The more selfless companies are about how they care for their people and the community, the higher the chances of them being able to build resiliency within their people and their brand’s image within the community. We must all foster a personal connection with one another. It could be planning a “kopi break” with random team members via an online meeting tool to catch up and share about not just work but also every other thing in our life. Through conversations, new ideas and opportunities might even emerge.
Just like the late Bruce Lee once said, “Do you know how I like to think of myself? As a human being. Because under the heavens, under the sky, there is but one family.”