These are unprecedented times. Across the globe we are at war, not with a human enemy but a virus. Families are losing loved ones, or separated from them. Businesses are struggling, many of which have been forced to close, leaving their employees in financial difficulty. The news is a constant barrage of fear and negativity, and at the moment there is no proven vaccine for COVID-19, although there are over 100 in trials. We simply don’t know when the pandemic will come to an end, and this uncertainty is difficult to manage as businesses and individuals.
The role of pharmaceutical and medical device companies has never been so critical. They are equipping healthcare workers on the front line with essential tools, such as protective personal equipment and ventilators, and are in a race against time to find a successful vaccine. It is essential then that the employees of these organizations are able to perform at their absolute best, to bring their A game to everything they are doing, regardless of the role they play in the organization. But with the certainty that surrounds us all right now, how do we support people to do their best?
1. Don’t go quiet
Lack of communication will only make your employees feel even more uneasy in these strange times. Now more than ever, people need to be communicated with on a frequent basis. Each business’ employees and the different groups within those businesses will have different needs. It's essential to keep your ear close to the ground and understand what sort of communication is needed across the business. Use those informal ‘grapevine’ connections to help you understand if there are any particular rumors or gripes which need to be quelled. Give careful consideration to how, when, and what you will communicate and document this in a communications plan. And remember: it's okay not to have all the answers.
2. Create a sense of togetherness
There has been a significant shift to remote working in order to support social distancing, and for those people used to working in office environments surrounded by colleagues, it's easy to feel isolated and disconnected. Those who are still in the workplace, such as those keeping production lines running, will be doing so under challenging conditions and may be feeling the strain of these changes. It's important to provide people with the opportunity to connect with each other, formally and informally, using whatever tools and technologies they can. Those regular team meetings, which will now be held on Skype or Zoom, have never been so important. Consider how you use these to their full potential, to create a feeling of togetherness. Here at Kallik, we have been hosting weekly quiz socials using video conferencing to help our teams feel connected with each other, and also to bring some light relief to the working week. Consider how you can encourage teams to socialize even whilst being distanced from each other.
3. Keep it human
It’s a weird time. Each one of us has been impacted in some way, big or small, by COVID-19. Leaders and managers need to demonstrate good emotional intelligence and empathy with their teams. With school closures, parents are now having to home-school their children whilst also holding down a full-time job. Some people may be caring for loved ones who are unwell, or who cannot leave the house. There may be others feeling very anxious about what is happening. To ensure you continue to get the most out of your teams during this critical time, you need to be tuned in to the challenges, worries, and concerns of your team and consider what steps you can take to help them be most effective, whilst also ensuring that you put their health wellbeing first and foremost. Listen to what your teams are telling you, and importantly, check-in with how they are feeling.