Employee safety, business disruption, economic volatility, financial uncertainty, and never ending health scares – businesses are facing unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19. The pandemic has effectively transformed the business landscape, testing the ability of businesses to operate and manage these rapid changes during a time of uncertainty. 

It is during this time that the value of employees is made even clearer, that they form the foundations for a business’s longevity and success. In order to move forward, including employees’ welfare in a business contingency plan is crucial to ensure business longevity and success. If you are working on your contingency plan, here are a few ways you can protect the most vulnerable workers during this pandemic.

Implementing An Efficient Hybrid Work Arrangement

Seeing as how traditional office work arrangement is no longer feasible, companies had approached the development of their COVID-19 contingency plan with a remote working alternative. However, even as the government gradually loosened COVID-19 curbs, companies began to be more receptive to the idea of hybrid work arrangements. Rather than implementing a rigid policy, providing employees with the option to choose gives them a sense of agency, which reflects favourably on employers and boosts talent attraction and retention. In order for a hybrid work arrangement to be successful, businesses need to figure out how to prioritise flexibility all while striking a balance with minimising business disruption.

Much of the success of this hybrid framework boils down to ample trust and open communication between managers and employees. Traditional in-person interactions will not be as easily available, and miscommunication may arise more frequently as a result. To enjoy the benefits of a hybrid work arrangement, businesses will need to ensure that there is a safe and effective space that encourages open and honest communication between managers and employees.

Businesses must also take into consideration other issues such as mental wellness and employee engagement. Giving access to real-time communication tools and scheduling informal conversation between team members and managers are some of the ways to address these gaps.

Training and Retraining Current Employees

As COVID-19 continues to cause drastic changes to economies around the world, businesses have accelerated transformation journeys to adapt to the post-pandemic world. 

Businesses can look into adapting their business strategies to not only support their vulnerable employees, but also pave the way for potential business growth. Businesses can look into sending their employees to retraining programmes where they can upgrade their current skill sets to progress into a higher value-added  job role or one that has been redesigned to meet the demands of a post-COVID economy. This will not only bolster their self-fulfilment and self-worth, but they will also benefit from the tangible skills that can help them with their job progression.

Businesses benefit by ensuring that the transformation of its business is matched with the development of its employees’ skill sets. Moreover, the government has set up several financial schemes to support the cost incurred and help facilitate such strategies. Consider these schemes to kickstart the programme:          

Providing A Safe Space for Your Employees

Beyond the logistical and practical aspects, setting up a space for your employees to relay their concerns is important. In such a difficult time, one’s physical, mental, and emotional psyche can be heavily affected. Providing a workplace that offers a slight respite is essential. As such, ensure that safe and open communication is established between employer and employees where there is no place for judgement. 

Businesses may look into partnering up with other companies to provide support for their employees. For instance, working with health and wellness companies can offer your employees greater accessibility to avenues that can improve their overall wellbeing.

Start Protecting Your Employees Today

COVID-19 has truly impacted the way we live our lives, and it is highly important that we work together as a community to navigate this challenging time. The first step towards business survival is to first recognise the value and worth of our employees, and establish a framework and system that protects them. In prioritising the protection of its employees, businesses would experience positive spillover effects in the forms of better talent attraction and retention.

The SBF Sustainable Employment (SE) initiative calls on the Singapore business community to take purposeful action to improve their SE practices in anticipation of emergent trends and future developments. The initiative was launched with a report that highlights key recommendations and potential opportunities for businesses to take on, in order to achieve long term business success and foster a vibrant economy and inclusive society.

Make the pledge to join others in this journey.