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6 Steps to a productive workforce management strategy

While the world awaits a vaccine, there is every chance the coronavirus outbreak may occur wherever people congregate. Readjusting strategic workforce planning to focus on potential future scenarios and steps towards recovery is crucial to navigating business’ new normal.

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In the face of coronavirus, organizations need to rapidly assess their current situation, implement change, adapt, and enable their workforce to work remotely if they’re going to make it through to the other side of this worldwide crisis. 

Servcorp shares tips on how to readjust organizations’ existing workforce management strategy to reduce the effect of sweeping crises on their business.

Fortunately, planning ahead is something global workspace providers, like Australian industry pioneer Servcorp, can help with, whatever the new normal looks like. Flexible, instantly scalable, plug and play serviced, coworking and virtual office solutions means organisations can not only have space, but also have team support and IT and telephony infrastructure up and running same day, on a month to month basis.

While the world awaits a vaccine, there is every chance the coronavirus outbreak may occur wherever people congregate. Readjusting strategic workforce planning to focus on potential future scenarios and steps towards recovery is crucial to navigating business’ new normal.

Here is Servcorp’s guide to updating and executing organisations’ workforce plan in the time of COVID-19:

1. Rethink and reboot. 

Use recent lockdown and work from home changes as a chance to reflect on what you have learnt and how your organization will react to change in the future. What has evolved in the way your people work, and how can you help them do better? How can you realign your HR and executive teams to focus on the most pressing business priorities now? Can you reconfigure your workforce and workplace to match evolving business needs? Deloitte has put together a useful workbook to help.

2. Focus on safety. 

Commit to workforce safety by refocusing on their physical, mental and financial wellbeing. Questions to ask include:

  • How can you reconfigure the workplace to adapt to the new imperatives on hygiene, social distancing, and ensuring unwell employees stay home?
  • What new technologies can you employ to further this end (e.g. no-touch doors, hand sanitiser, remote logins, desk shields)?
  • How can you foster collaboration amongst remote teams?
  • What can you do to make remote working more inclusive and productive?

3. Functional flexibility. 

With work from home arrangements now looking like the new norm for the foreseeable future, many organizations have had to undertake a crash course in managing their teams remotely, but thankfully it is not all bad news. Work from home arrangements can represent significant savings in office rents – the key is to make sure your people can access the tools they need to get their jobs done well. Coworking spaces can deliver flexibility and access to essential tools when required, without the hefty overhead costs.

4. Lead the way in what you say. 

Organizational cultures suffer as social distancing and remote working disrupt traditional efforts to align teams. Clear, empathetic, supportive and timely communication is imperative to stemming the disconnect. What strategies do you have in place to communicate with your people regularly? How can you foster connection and collaboration between physically distant workers? What policies and procedures guide respectful online interactions? Keeping your people on point is crucial for a triumphant return to the workplace.

5. Find the gaps. 

It’s the perfect time to identify any gaps in your workforce and fully understand the vital skills your business will need in the future to survive. What might happen if specific roles in your organization were suddenly impaired by illness? What contingencies do you have in place to ensure critical operations continue to run smoothly? Could a job mentoring program share key skills across multiple employees?

6. Train for the future of work. 

This report from McKinsey argues that adapting your workforce strategy to post-pandemic ways of working is “crucial to building operating-model resilience.” The pandemic has fast-tracked digital transformation, but it’s more than just remote working or automation – staying resilient during and post-COVID means reskilling or upskilling your people to maximize productivity and deliver new, more agile business models.

If there is one lesson that 2020 is teaching us, it is to expect the unexpected. Do not hesitate. Act immediately to draft a workforce plan that encompasses as many potentialities about what comes next as possible. Doing so is key to future-proofing your business and keeping your people safe to do their best work yet.

Strategies

5 Ways working moms can achieve work-life balance

Life as a working mom can be very challenging, especially now that most are still working remotely, and the lines between work and home are blurred. Each mom is different, and each workplace must cater to individual needs to ensure work-life balance.

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Life as a working mom can be very challenging, especially now that most are still working remotely, and the lines between work and home are blurred. Each mom is different, and each workplace must cater to individual needs to ensure work-life balance. 

Yani Hornilla-Donato, Canva Philippines’ Country Manager, Chrissie Peria, Copy Lead for Canva’s Template Design Team, and Christine Reyes, Creative Lead for Canva’s Elements Team, share how they have found balance between work and home, and how workplaces can create the best environment for moms.

1. Learn to set boundaries

As Canva Philippines’ Country Manager, Yani is passionate about growing the team in Manila. She loves to share creative ways to connect Canva with Filipinos and help people communicate visually.

Based on her experience as a new mom, Yani talks about the importance of communication, while also being intentional in setting goals, empowering teams, and setting boundaries. 

There are simple ways to establish boundaries—physically, mentally, and socially. Yani said,“Setup a workstation at home. A place where you can focus and send a signal to other people that you are working. Ideally, create a separate workspace from your place of rest.”

Yani has placed a hard stop to the end of her working day. “I start early, so I can finish by 4 in the afternoon. 5:00 pm and beyond is dedicated for my family, especially my new baby. I want to be present, take care of her, and witness her milestones. And definitely no work on weekends! Except for emergencies,” she added.

In a work from home set-up, it’s become difficult for some to switch off from work. “I make it a point to spend time catching up with people and sincerely asking them, ‘How are you?’. I’m also a huge fan of birthdays, so whenever I can, I try to orchestrate really fun online birthdays for people at work,” said Yani.

Canva has been featured in the Top 3 Best Workplaces in the Philippines for two years in a row, according to Great Place to Work, and Yani is proud of the culture that the team has established. 

2. Schedule leave and rest to spend time with family

Canva wants to help moms find balance between being a present mother, and also thriving at work. The company has increased the number of maternity days for its employees every year.  

“We have a generous leave package that affords all of us time off. We also try to extend flexibility wherever possible, especially for moms who need to adjust their schedules at home,” Yani added.

Chrissie, the Copy Lead for Canva’s Template Design Team, and responsible for populating Canva’s library with the wonderful templates, shared how Canva helped everyone settle into the remote working setup during the pandemic. Initiatives include giving allowances to improve workspaces at home, providing food and utility provisions, and hosting health and wellness virtual events to help employees cope.

3. Find your pack, nurture a culture of support and understanding

It is important to find a good support system and be open to your managers and wider team about your needs. This way they can support and understand you better. 

Christine, the Creative Lead for the Elements Team in Canva Manila, works with a team of creatives to produce graphic elements. One of the challenges she faces as a mom is being able to spend time with her family with a clear head.

“It took a while for me to completely let go of the habit of checking my work email and Slack beyond 4:00 pm, but I’ve learnt to be successful in that aspect. My leads always assure me that nothing will break even if I don’t answer everything after 4:00 pm,” Christine said.

At Canva, teams check on each other, have regular social calls and are quick to pick-up another person’s load if they need support. “Everyone is so understanding — children barging in on calls are greeted with smiles and small talk, dogs and cats get paraded on screen, and crowing roosters in the background are brushed off with giggles and no judgement,” Chrissie shared.

“We have Internal Coaching available for everyone too. This is especially helpful for moms who are going through tough things, and need or want a coach to offer guidance,” Yani said.

4. Share the fun work culture with your family

Canva’s Vibe Team is built on creating a work environment where everyone is empowered to do their best work and give back to the community.

Pre-pandemic Canva used to have Family Days, as well as events during special occasions like Halloween, when employees would bring their kids along to the Manila office to play. The Vibe team also hands out Mother’s Day (and Father’s Day) presents and holds special events at the office. 

“With our new working arrangements, our celebrations have shifted online. And while we’re not together physically, they’re just as heartwarming. We all aim to be good humans, and a force for good in a world that’s facing challenging times. And I’m lucky enough to be surrounded and supported by these wonderfully good people,” Chrissie shared.

5. Find your motivation; become a “Force for Good”

“Being a force for good” is one of Canva’s core values. The company works towards a world that isn’t just good for a small few, but one that’s good for everyone. Like most startups, life at Canva is very fast paced and everyone gives their best to adapt and react to the needs of their users.

“Everyone is encouraged to contribute and help improve the product and the user experience. It’s pretty fulfilling, knowing that you had a direct hand in something that makes someone’s life easier,” Chrissie shared. The biggest thing to love about what I do, is how my work empowers people on a daily basis. Writing is something that comes naturally to me, but it’s not the case for everyone. So knowing that I can use my skills to make others’ lives easier is motivating,” she added.

All moms are different, and we want to celebrate each one of them. Show your love and appreciation to your mom, mommy, mama, nanay or inay with Canva’s Mother’s Day templates. ⁣You can also find Filipino templates by changing the language settings to Tagalog and search for the term “ina”.

For more information about Canva, visit https://www.canva.com/

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Strategies

3 Rules to provide seamless customer experience

Customer experience is a silent game-changer set to regain customer inflow, especially for businesses or companies who had to move away from physical, on-ground set ups. While this experience was initially designed to just provide support or troubleshoot problems for customers, it has now evolved into a deeper and dynamic understanding of what customers go through–especially during this time.

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With the shift towards the digital marketplace last year, both businesses and their respective customers are going to continue working and interacting remotely in 2021. With that comes a very important aspect – ventures should definitely place emphasis on a seamless customer experience. 

Customer experience is a silent game-changer set to regain customer inflow, especially for businesses or companies who had to move away from physical, on-ground set ups. While this experience was initially designed to just provide support or troubleshoot problems for customers, it has now evolved into a deeper and dynamic understanding of what customers go through–especially during this time.

Customer feedback, in addition, has provided crucial insights and points of action for businesses to integrate as they build experiences that can adapt to each customer’s needs.

“Designing experiences for customers now requires a more deliberate and ever-evolving approach, entailing precision, customization, and thoughtful details,” said Regional Vice President Rajiv M.Dhand from TELUS International, a leading digital solutions and customer experience (CX) provider.

“At a time like this, when companies like ours have access to insights from customer feedback, we treat them as a valuable stimulant to adapt to as we create a more personalized and unique experience for each customer, which is our goal for each and every interaction,” Dhand explained.  

Undeniably, digital platforms have given the much-needed flexibility for customers during this time. As these platforms are here to stay, TELUS International Philippines shares these three important learnings on customer experience that can help businesses improve how customers experience their brands in the current situation and for the years to come. 

1. Being digital-first should put a premium on data privacy and security

The swift migration of businesses to digital solutions heightened the focus on immediate accessibility and user experience; however, it can also leave loopholes in data security if done in      haste. This movement paved the way for leaders in tech and CX to stress the need for firms to ensure that they have the proper IT and data security systems and tools to ensure that data and transactions are always secure. 

With adaptation now more settled for companies, setting standards and stricter systems on oversight for remote work should be the next priority to ensure longevity when investing in these tech solutions.

2. Remote or hybrid set-ups demonstrate the power of cloud

Applying remote work set-ups happened faster than expected even with the limitation of stable internet infrastructure in the Philippines. Businesses were able to continue and adjust with the enforcement of skeletal capacity in workplaces with the aid of cloud-enabled platforms.

Cloud solutions paved the way for smoother transitions and collaborations for users in different locations. This has become instrumental for companies who are designing their way forward. Even traditional businesses who are new to this kind of work, now improve process flows with the real time updates they get from operations managed by the cloud technology. These significant improvements have ushered in efficient ways of working, which will be here to stay.

3. Conveying empathy and transparency through digital channels are an edge

Minimiz     ing face-to-face interaction and boosting virtual ones does not mean losing empathetic forms of communications. In times of crisis, silence or canned responses may seem impersonal or out of touch leading to customers’ disinterest or worse, mistrust. 

Companies need to level with that by bringing the same personal experience and empathetic messaging to any channel available to its customers. This comes with being more transparent on what companies can offer, as well as what their limitations are, during this time. It helps manage customers’ expectations and lead them to proper channels where they can be serviced better. 

“Through these learnings, we are able to go beyond simply delivering easy, real-time support to our customers. There is another layer of care and thoughtfulness that we add in the overall experience. While that might seem intangible, it makes a great difference,” said Dhand.

Technologies will become more advanced as tech and CX experts in companies like TELUS International Philippines relentlessly find ways to bridge needs through digital solutions.

For TELUS International Philippines, their commitment to providing world-class customer experiences will create a sustained evolution as more people rely on digital solutions as the world continues to transition and learn from the wave of experiences that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about.

Dhand added, “In the years to come, the surge of innovations and omnichannel solutions will continue to define how customers experience different brands, but one thing that will remain constant is how, as a company, we can show our care and dedication as we design human-centric customer experiences.”

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Strategies

Workplace study during pandemic finds managers should talk less, listen more

For communications professionals, remote work made it harder for them to build trusting new relationships. They, like others, felt isolated, missing critical conversations and small talk.

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Photoo by Vana Ash from Unsplash.com

Workplace communication often took a back seat this past year, as employees and employers rushed to work remotely, struggled with technology barriers and adjusted to physical distancing. But the pandemic has resulted in valuable lessons for communicating on the job, according to a Baylor University study.

During the onset of COVID-19 — along with accompanying layoffs and a recession — “there likely has never been a moment with such demand for ethical listening to employees,” said lead author Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor.

“Ethical listening” was defined by one communication manager as “listening with an open mind and being able to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Strategic listening is then taking the good and the bad and the ugly and knowing how to use the information.”

For the study, published in the Journal of Communication Management, researchers interviewed 30 communication professionals in the District of Columbia and 13 states in the USA: Arkansas, California, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. Interviewees represented technology, financial and legal services, food and beverage, hospitality, energy, health care, trade associations, transportation, higher education and consultants.

The professionals interviewed stressed the importance of protecting confidentiality so employees feel comfortable giving feedback and do not fear retribution.

When COVID-19 hit and workers often no longer shared physical quarters, the use of Zoom soared, whether for large group meetings or one-on-one sessions, researchers noted. And while senior managers valued communication, it became less of a priority as companies made such quick changes as mandated quarantines.

For communications professionals, remote work made it harder for them to build trusting new relationships. They, like others, felt isolated, missing critical conversations and small talk.

“We heard that the pandemic posed challenges in internal communication due to the alienation many employees experienced, and it prompted us to reevaluate the moral responsibility communications holds for keeping employees feeling connected to their teams,” said co-researcher Shannon A. Bowen, Ph.D., professor of journalism and mass communications at the University of South Carolina.

The study shed light on companies’ challenges, how they strove to meet them and how they might use those strategies in the future.

For example, a communication manager for a trade association of the hospitality industry said that its members also are primary stakeholders in their companies.

“There were stakeholders who were saying, ‘I’m going to have to close my doors. Please do something.’ And there’s only so much we can do. It called for a different type of empathetic listening. This is these people’s livelihood. In hospitality, that’s like any business owner, that’s their baby. But it’s not just their baby. It’s a baby that generates income for the employees they deeply care about. It’s not just that it impacts them; it impacts their employees, which is a double cut to the heart.”

Meanwhile, a communication manager in health care encouraged senior leaders to schedule 30-minute “walk-around” sessions — whether masked and in person or via technology.

“Trust has to be built with actions and follow-through, not just words,” Bowen said.

For all the organizations studied, “the desire and follow-through to ethically listen to employees appeared to be a challenge,” Neill said.

Most participants said the ratio of management messaging to employees compared to feedback was lopsided, with far more talking than listening.

“We cannot promise we are going to fix everything,” said a communication manager in the financial services industry. “But we have the mantra if you are asking for feedback, it is critical that you close the loop and say that.”

Communications managers often have limited staff to analyze feedback. They also contend with a lack of communication between departments, especially in larger organizations.

To solve those problems, some communications professionals suggested having a team member to sit in on department meetings and serve as a liaison. One professional in a law firm said she makes it a point to invite the less vocal members to share their thoughts, while another uses on-on-one meetings for them.

“They open up a lot more when it’s just one on one,” she said. “In groups, large groups, they do not speak as freely, because there’s a hierarchy. If the older, more senior people are not saying anything, then the younger less seasoned attorneys more than likely will not say anything.”

Some internal communicators also said that during the pandemic, they saw a need for shorter, more focused meetings, in part to cut down on stress. And one consultant said that more visual communications, such as videos and video conferencing, seemed to help employees feel that they are cared for.

“I’m making sure that I have my eyes trained on the screen on the facial expressions,” said a communication manager for a trade association. “Part of active listening is also looking for visual cues of the reactions of your colleagues.”

Neill said the researchers were encouraged by the heightened level of empathy for the impact of organizational decisions on employees’ lives.

“We recommend that senior leadership and communication professionals seek ways to continue to improve moral sensitivity well after the global pandemic has receded, which can lead to more ethical decision-making,” she said.

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