Five change management strategies you’ll need in a crisis
April 29, 2020
Written by Luciana Gutsztat
COVID-19 has transformed the world of work forever: with roughly 3.9 billion people around the world being instructed to stay home, companies are turning to change management strategies to continue working and keep up productivity. For their employees, these strategies have focused on getting everyone to adopt new technologies and helping them get used to working from home.
However, ensuring that all your employees have the necessary technology to create a home office is only one aspect of adaptation. The pandemic also highlights the importance of focusing on people: creating strategies to be more connected, more informed, and above all more involved with our most important partners: employees and communities.
In the post-pandemic scenario, how leaders handle this situation can mark a path, ultimately determining whether employees return to work motivated or simply never return, as discussed in this Forbes column for example. Leaders who make decisions from a place of ego and not of empathy could find themselves dealing with the worst consequences. So how do we adapt our organizations to make them more empathetic and confront the pandemic together?
Luckily, there are specific change management initiatives leaders of large and small companies alike, even with limited resources, can implement in a crisis to stay close to their employees, their families, and their community.
Become the preferred means of communication
We know that communication with our employees needs to be open and transparent, with aligned, clear and timely messages. Although these principles in crisis communication and change management are fundamental, the impact of the pandemic could generate alarming levels of anxiety and concern, forcing companies to make a bigger effort to bring peace of mind to their teams. Furthermore, people today have access to multiple informational sources, which leaves them vulnerable to false information and fake news that can be dangerous and even counterproductive. As an organizational change management strategy, a role of greater leadership in communications is not only recommended but it is also an opportunity to leverage the bond of trust between employees and your organization. Some ideas for becoming an “official source” in the pandemic include:
- Communicate new guidelines with an impact on employees and clients: remote work procedures, travel policies, and health protocols, for example.
- Organize talks with health experts so they can give employees an objective outlook about the health crisis.
- Develop high-impact outreach and awareness campaigns.
- Create assistance programs or feedback channels to receive proposals, channel concerns, and hear first hand from your employees how they are coping with the crisis.
Turn your organization into a means of communication that informs, educates, and accompanies your teams in times of uncertainty. As a leader, it is an opportunity to stand before your team members as a responsible and credible person ready to face any kind of crisis.
Take advantage of the digitization of the employee experience
Regardless of how digitized your company was before the pandemic, this crisis has most likely accelerated the process of digital transformation by changing the work dynamics and ways of interacting with your people. How can you ensure your employees working from home feel committed to the organization and connected to each other?
Invest in technologies that guarantee that the experience of your people–today increasingly digital–continues to be positive and that their bonds with others continue to be nurtured with new experiences. Use the power of recognition and appreciation to inspire people, to connect them to the purpose of your business and make sense of all the effort they are making.
Another advantage of digitizing those relationships with employees, clients, and communities is that this makes it possible to measure and propose new strategies to improve work relationships. Use artificial intelligence platforms to ensure that your initiatives really impact employee well-being and their connection to the organization.
Take your social engagement actions to a whole new level
If your company already has sustainability and corporate responsibility strategy, use those initiatives as a way to maximize your reach among the most vulnerable communities. Whether in the educational, technological, or social sphere, working with alliances with a third party or directly, this is the time to invest resources and time to create a sense of commitment throughout the entire organization in an effort to alleviate the socio-economic impact of the crisis.
Another option that a number of organizations have chosen as one of their change management strategies is to digitize, donate, or “unleash” their services, content, and licenses to help the entire community get through the pandemic in the best way possible. In the face of an unprecedented crisis, innovation is essential for the impact to be real. For example, Globant developed the first Critical Patient Resources Monitoring System so that governments can see in real-time the availability of beds and equipment in hospitals and clinics. Many factories around the world have reconverted lines of work to make face masks and essential equipment for public health.
Today it is about contributing, cooperating, making a difference, and bettering our world. Take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to launch initiatives that will hone the adaptation and innovation skills of your teams.
Give more than they expect and surprise them!
Just as companies need their workers to do their best during the crisis and are asking employees to adapt, innovate, and be more flexible, it is important that organizations do the same. The best change management strategies are those that are based on creativity and implement initiatives to innovate and improve workplace relationships.
Relationships are very important to people. According to a Globant survey, two out of three employees (62%) want to know their coworkers better, and 83% believe that if they did, they would feel more committed to their team. Here are several ideas that can have a big impact on helping people to enrich their ties to one another:
- Support employees with children by offering virtual school support to accompany their children in the follow-up of their schoolwork from home.
- Offer your clients tools and spaces to stay connected, from collaborative platforms and messaging groups to virtual after-office events.
- Use the company’s apps to encourage employees to share practical ideas for working from home, recipes, exercise routines, series, and books.
- Organize activities like games, ice breakers, contests, etc.
- Offer dance classes, mindfulness activities, yoga, crafts with kids, etc.
Without a doubt, the more effort you make to approach your employees in an empathetic and positive way, the greater their sense of commitment and loyalty to your company will be.
The leaders of your organization are likely concerned about the impact of the crisis on the business, they may think that this is not the time to focus on culture. However, the most efficient change management strategy is a change in mindset, which does not require an investment but rather the will, decision, and empathy to make a company more human and people-focused.