Rethinking your workforce

Managing your staff

COVID-19 has forced major changes to the traditional 'workplace' and workforce. This module discusses five critical actions businesses can take in their workforce recovery post COVID-19 restrictions: Reflect, Reconnect, Reengage, Rethink, Reboot.

Key learning outcomes:

  • The value of reflection and planning
  • Considerations when reconnecting to your workforce
  • Re-engage strategies and considerations
  • Re-thinking the workforce and workplace to leverage the experience of COVID-19 response
  • Understanding people management processes

Video Presentation: Re-thinking your workforce

Re-thinking your workforce

Hello, my name's Margaret Goody. I'm the HR strategist with Akyra Strategy and Development. Today, we're going to be talking about rethinking your workforce, and the five critical actions you can take towards that recovery post COVID-19.

The five R's of workforce recovery

There's five of those, as I said, actions, and they are reflect, reconnect, re-engage, rethink and reboot. And so the five R’s, not the three R’s of education, but the five R’s of work force recovery is what we're going to be talking about today.

1. Reflect

So the first one, Reflect. And this is one of the hardest things that we as business owners find to do. Actually take time out, to think about what has happened, and reflect on what was happening prior to COVID-19, what has happened since COVID-19, and what we've missed when we've been responding to it.

We really need to take that time out. I remember someone years ago telling me that 20% of our business time should be spent in reflection and planning. Well, I don't know about you, but I actually don't plan a day a week on reflection and planning. However, I do want you to take some time out to reflect on, as I said, what was before, what is now, what's happened in the middle, and what you missed.

So a key difference between a crisis response, which is largely about reaction and recovery is making that time, and taking the time to reflect on what's next. In fact, that reflection may be the most important step first step for an ongoing action that you'll ever take.

It starts with the reflections, as I said of what has worked, what has been learned, and what's been missed. Reflection also involves making the time to bring different perspectives into reflection. Different voices and leaders at different levels are the inputs to charting what comes next. So this again is about talking with your workforce, and it might, you don't have to talk to everybody in the reflection process, but perhaps two or three key people across the organisation that you value their time, you value what they bring to the table.

Recovery for workforce strategies, given the severity, intensity, and impact on workers and businesses, requires action informed by continuous reflection. So this is not something you do today, and then you don't ever do again. I want you to actually build it into your weekly diary.

As most parts of the recovery process, and it will not be easy and it will require deliberate actions from you as a leader of your business to make the time for this to happen. So, you know, it is about perhaps you'd like to go for walk on the beach, and maybe walk for an hour or so on the beach, and reflect then, or we'll be sitting in the park or somewhere where you not going to be distracted by what is happening and going on around you. Where you do have that time to reflect, as we said on what's happening.

2. Reconnect

The next thing is recommit. What I want you to do is to reconnect to workforce, wellbeing, and purpose through a focus on physical, psychological, and financial concerns at home and in the workplace. This means reinforce your commitment to the wellbeing and purpose for a focus on those three things we talked about, including the physical wellbeing, which is an emphasis on the health and safety of your employees in the workplace, the cleanliness of the workplace, and the availability of testing and treatment if that's what's required.

It's also being, having a plan in place for if someone actually workplaces diagnosed with COVID-19, what do you do? How does the workplace, workforce know how to react to that. And so that's part of your planning and recommitment to the physical wellbeing.

The psychological wellbeing will include workplace practices, such as flexible, shared schedules, that address workers, mental and emotional health. So, you know, if workers have got to come back into the workplace, then you might stagger 7.30am starts and 8.30am starts. You might stagger the lunch breaks. You might talk to them about, you know, how do they come to work? Is it in there car? Is it public transport? If it’s public transport, how do they feel about that? And so they're the sorts of things. And even parking, you know, do they have to park their car, how far do they have to walk, and in some cases it will be, you know, how many people can get in the lift at any one time?

There's a story around that in Brisbane, one of the tall buildings there. That if everybody's stuck to the COVID-19 social distancing, it would take five hours for everybody to get to their workplace. So that's not quite practicable. So you really need to think about those things.

And the financial wellbeing is an interesting one. It means keeping your employees informed that what is happening in relation to the stability of the company going forward and inviting them in to provide ideas that you may not have thought of.

And so understanding from them. And if, you know, if, if you are, don't have the stability, you would like, still talk to them about it because they need to know from their own perspective where things are at, not just you worrying yourself sick because you know, things are not going as well, financially, as you had hoped. That's part and parcel of owning a business, I know. But in this particular time at COVID-19, your employees are also going through that. Is my employer going to survive this? If they are not, what do I do? How do I manage the loan? All those sorts of things. So please keep them informed about what is happening around your financial piece.

3. Re-engage

The re-engagement. So you re-engage and redeploy the workforce to maximize their contribution and potential for rapidly evolving organisational priorities. Whether they are onsite or working remotely. So one of these things is about making sure that your employees are very clear about your vision and mission and values are, they should have been already obviously, but this is one time to really, really put forward what this is. Because you may have changed the priorities of your business, and they need to know why. And they need to know what those priorities will achieve for you. And so it's making sure that they are engaged in that whole process.

Prepare your employees for their return to the workplace. The changes in the infrastructure, the layout, the technology, the, you know, not sitting side by side. Refocus on team efforts. Teams should be designed and configured for shifting business priorities and outomes, while balancing family and personal concerns with flexibility and still make critical business needs.

That's going to take a lot of planning on your part, but that's why if you involve your employees in this whole process, it will make it a lot easier to make it happen. Team leaders are going to be absolutely critical to the short-term success of re-engaging our workforce and driving business results.

Reinforcing the role of teams and team leaders will foster a sense of agility and ultimately lasting resiliency, and resiliency is the one aspect that's been seen as almost missing in action in a lot of workplaces.

As the leader of your business, you should provide teams, managers, and employees with a clear direction on the changes in work priorities and routines. And that is a critical point for reemployment re engagement as I talked about earlier. Because those new business priorities or changed priorities, may actually change the routines of how and why things are done.

How you prepare and support your work posted in the new routines, priorities roles and assignments will likely be a key driver of workforce performance and achieving your vision.

4. Re-think

The next one is a really big one. Is rethinking workforces and workplaces to leverage the experience of the COVID-19 response, and the opportunity to accelerate the future of work. This is the most challenging element for the rethinking of your workforce all while building and/or retaining the trust of your employees.

So what we're saying during COVID-19 is rapid change shifts to remote work, new levels of partnership within and across ecosystems. And unprecedented levels of flexibility, teaming and adaptability.

It goes from how we will serve our client and communities, and achieve our vision, to the most mundane of what will the dress code be going forward. Because for some work places, it was always a suit and tie now for a lot of businesses that doesn't apply, but where it does apply, then our rethinking “is it a suit and tie going forward?”.

Communicate how and why employees are being redeployed either in the same role or the same role with different responsibilities or a different role. And that goes back to the changing priorities. Priorities changing, which we talked about in the previous element are the things that could change the role of an employee.

Identifying the new business priorities you highlight where returning to work earlier, priorities is appropriate and when you work as required. You need to provide the context and the direction for the rationale behind the new priorities. New workplace realities of remaining onsite and/or online work, and the fairness of your workplace policies.

And that's really critical that the workplace policies, if they've had to be changed, are still seen as being fair.

It'll be challenging to you as the leader of your business to be bold in the face of uncertainty, but you need to be able to do that to retain the trust of your employees.

Changing your workforce composition creates opportunities for wholesale reinvention. For example, off the balance sheet workers, such as contractors, freelances, the gig economy and old crowd workers. There's a whole lot of different ways that you can actually still achieve your business outcomes, but you need to make sure that as you're managing your workflows for composition and potential changes in that, that you still also comply with what's required under the fair work act.

5. Reboot

And last but not least is the reboot. People and operational priorities. And realign the people management function with the most pressing business and workplace priorities, pivoting towards exponential people management processes.

The recovery process may not succeed if the people management piece does not impose a defined role, one that anticipates new priorities. There'll be a need to focus on compensation, performance management, and promotion reality specific to the recovery period. So there are some things that will be specific to this recovery period, and then there will be some things that will change again post the recovery period.

Your business needs to fully understand what compliance means during COVID-19 and post COVID-19. And that's compliance with regulatory requirements, with legislation, with the fair work act, all those really interesting pieces that we really don't want to deal with.

You will need to integrate the employee need for individuality and belonging, and the business need for security and reinvention. Choices and policies adopted during their recovery and an opportunity to make the shift towards purpose angel and perspective. The choices you make today as the leader of your business will likely define its impact on the recovery and it's role in the future.

When employees in the broader workforce look back at this crisis and its aftermath, they should see that you or your HR, if you're big enough to have an HR person, were coming from a forward looking perspective in the business response, balancing critical short term workforce and business needs, and the opportunity to pivot to the future.

Conclusion and takeaways

In conclusion, these short term actions and the long-term vision, present your business with an opportunity to rapidly assess and evaluate your earlier workforce strategies, and respond to priorities, and to reposition your business to threat thrive in the new realities to come.

You may be tempted to dismiss the need to change and to imagine recovery as a return to the recent past. It is not. Businesses that return to their old ways of working may find their competitors have taken advantage of the recovery to reimagine their workforce and business positioning, and positioning themselves to thrive in the future.

By anticipating and orchestrating these five priority of reflect, recommit, reengage, rethink and reboot in the context of a future directed towards purpose, potential, and perspective, you can lead and prepare your workforce through the recovery phase while positioning your business for the next phase. Thriving in the new future.

Thanks for listening today. My name is Margaret goody. You can contact me to discuss any of this webinar content on or (07) 3204 8830.

Thanks for listening.


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