By Matthew Dowling
Although early revenue projections were tough to digest for the staffing industry, we have seen some recent positive momentum. The May job reports surprised everyone, as 2.5 million jobs were added and the jobless rate decreased by 1.4%.
When the economic tide shifts in the wrong direction, it’s common for companies to lose sight of their most important asset, their employees. This is an inadvisable decision. Once you lose your employee’s trust, it’s not likely you’ll ever get it back.
As we navigate these incredibly difficult times and think about work in a post-COVID-19 era, staffing firms will need to apply learnings from the current state, both good and bad, and continue to evolve their strategies on managing employees. What was once the norm may look quite different moving forward.
There are three main areas for staffing agencies to focus on for rethinking and revamping their people strategies to succeed during and after the pandemic.
1.) Work/life balance is more important now than ever. With work and life blurred for approximately a third of Americans who are working from home, it’s increasingly difficult to “turn off” once the workday is completed. Add in kids, homeschooling, and social distancing, and you have a perfect storm for potential burnout. Ensuring your employees take breaks to re-energize is critical. Studies show that even a short respite improves creativity, productivity, and overall focus. The 52/17 rule (17-minute break for every 52 consecutive minutes worked) has been proven by science to be the optimal work to break ratio.
2.) Build trust with your team. Building trust is a two-way street. No one wants to be micro-managed, but with so many of us working from home, it’s not always easy to quantify the work being done. Trust your employees. Remember why you hired them and remove the urge to check-in too frequently. Whether it’s through digital chat or a video conference, it’s easy to go too far with the constant monitoring of your employees. Be careful. Workforce management and human capital management software is one way to track performance and is less invasive than constant monitoring. It’s essential to establish employee trust and to let them know that they can come to you with anything on their mind, both personal and professional. This will create a better working relationship and a more engaged employee.
3.) Fundamental changes to the workforce moving forward. The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing those with the ability to work from home to do so. Not surprising. But what is a bit surprising are the current results — improved productivity. U.S. workers were 47% more productive in March and April than in the same two months a year ago, according to an analysis of 100 million data points from 30,000 Americans by workplace-monitoring company Prodoscore. Some experts predict that moving forward, up to 50% of company staff will have the ability to work from home if they choose. Some companies, like Twitter, have come out and offered employees the ability to work from home permanently, while other companies are sure to follow. Remote and flexible opportunities are often viewed as an employee-facing benefit, however, employers will find this advantageous as well, through significant cost reductions and improved retention, productivity, and engagement. In fact, a recent report from the Global Workplace Analytics estimates that a typical employer can save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. Win-win for everyone.
Companies must use the learnings, both good and bad, from the current pandemic and apply them to their future. There are ways to give employees more choices, which improves engagement while also helping the bottom line. The way we work will be forever changed and companies must adapt or be left behind.
Listen to the recording of our webinar session from the ISSA/WASS 2020 Virtual Midwest Conference to learn about functional areas where you can take proactive steps toward nurturing your workforce to ensure business success and continuity.