With every day and every news brief, the business landscape is changing in the midst of coronavirus. New policies, plans and processes become outdated as soon as they’re finished.
By hosting bi-weekly information sessions for North Carolina business leaders, Tryon Direct has heard and responded to key questions from our perspectives as healthcare professionals and human resources mentors.
Tryon Direct Coronavirus Response Team member Stephen Gage, Ph.D., an industrial-organizational psychologist, has been part of every webinar, hearing directly from Charlotte CEOs and business owners. While day-to-day challenges may change, Gage shared the four key questions leaders can consistently ask themselves to focus their thinking:
1. Does my coronavirus task force have all the necessary voices in the room?
“As coronavirus impacts every facet of your business, it takes a diversity of expertise to make the right choices,” Gage says. “Your task force can be just as fluid as the environment we’re living in.”
Leaders often think about how to be most efficient with staff time and that can mean keeping meetings lean, only inviting those who are most essential to the process. But, as communications, policy changes and decisions happen faster than ever before, the larger risk isn’t clogging up your employees’ time with meetings but what important considerations you might miss without the right people in the room.
Not every gap in knowledge needs to be filled by someone on your immediate team. Bringing in external experts, like legal counsel or a physician, not only adds to the effectiveness of your team but brings a third party perspective and fresh eyes.
2. What updates do my policies and procedures need?
“If you have the same policies on Friday that you did on Monday, they’re out of date,” Gage says. “Policies should be updated constantly to keep in line with strategic business goals and assure everyone knows what to do and what to count on.”
Sure there are general sick policies, but what happens when an employee tests positive for COVID-19? How long should they stay away from the office? Are employees who work from home potentially putting protected information at risk by saving it on their desktop? If the policy playbook isn’t updated often, you’ll be playing defense rather than offense against coronavirus.
3. Am I sticking to the communications cadence I’ve promised my employees?
“A solid and transparent communications plan lets employees know what to be prepared for and when,” Gage says. “Set expectations and stick to them.”
How often employees should be hearing from you depends on your company’s needs and culture, but don’t go ad hoc. Whether it’s every other day, every morning or before every shift, establish trust by being clear about when updates will come. You may have technology at your disposal, like a slick HRIS system, or you may keep up with staff via email, but no matter what your resources, stay true to your word.
4. Are there more resources I could be sharing with my employees?
“Lay the groundwork for your team to be as successful as possible by giving them the resources they need to feel confident and prepared,” Gage says. “Even if you’re making tough choices.”
As business owners face reducing hours for their workforce or contemplate the points of furloughing staff versus layoffs, offering employees the best information and resources you have available maintains relationships. Staff members are not just people you’ve spent time and money training; they are family who carry your corporate culture. With those team members, companies should consider how to assist in navigating North Carolina’s unique local resources or by providing timelines.
For current employees, consider how they can best use resources and benefits. Don’t overlook opportunities like employee assistance programs that are part of many benefits packages, offering a series of counseling sessions at no cost to your staff.
Tryon Direct knows these four questions aren’t the only ones constantly on the minds of Charlotte’s business leaders. We focus not only on reducing healthcare costs for Charlotte-region businesses but on serving as trusted advisors. Whether or not you’re a current Tryon Direct client, get real-time responses to your coronavirus questions online or by calling our Coronavirus Response Team at 704-909-9908.