Upcycle, upskill and unite – three ways for leaders to survive COVID-19

covid-19 unite

Looking at different organisations a business can partner with is an innovative way to extend resources through other expanding networks, keep business going and open new avenues of opportunity that can exist for years to come, writes Aaron McEwan

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds the old adage of adapt or die has never rung truer.

For the business world, each day sees new limitations enforced and different challenges rolled out to leaders trying to keep staff in jobs and to continue to support customers’ needs. Each choice and decision made during these difficult days will have serious implications for their staff, customers, corporate reputation and even financial survival.

Organisations must be open-minded during this unprecedented experience and adapt to a new normal of challenge and opportunity.

According to a recent Gartner survey, CHROs have been implementing arrange of cost-management measures to survive COVID-19:

  • Seventy per cent report plan to cut costs by making the most of the technology available to them
  • Nearly half of organisations plan to freeze new hiring
  • Most are prioritising work for internal staff; with one-fifth of organisations planning to stop or limit spending on consultants and contract workers
  • Encouragingly, only 10 per cent of employers’ plan to reduce working hours and just six per cent report asking employees to take unpaid leave

While some cost-cutting will be inevitable, those who protect and invest in critical talent will win in the long term. Now is the time to innovate and explore new thinking.

Upcycle skilled workers via internal exchanges and redeployments
As companies implement hiring freezes, the next action will be to select and deploy internal talent from areas of low demand to support work critical to business continuity.

For example, an organisation might redeploy customer service representatives to support an overwhelmed IT or customer helpline.

When companies redeploy workers with specific skills around the business, they maximise the skills and capabilities already available to them whilst simultaneously expanding employee skills.

Each choice and decision made during these difficult days will have serious implications for their staff, customers, corporate reputation and even financial survival.

Commit to upskilling the workforce
Before COVID-19, 46 per cent of HR leaders had reported to Gartner that their employees lacked the skills necessary to drive future performance.

For most organisations, face-to-face training currently isn’t an option with over 80 per cent of organisations have cancelled, or planning to cancel, in-person training.

Maintaining access to learning and development in this challenging environment will be crucial to surviving the pandemic. More so, organisations will never have a better opportunity to leverage flexible work arrangements and employee downtime to reskill.

Organisations must prioritise the virtual delivery of learning and development opportunities to maintain staff engagement and develop essential skills that will see the business excel in these difficult times and into the future.

For example, Melbourne based Learn2Learn is offering free access to their evidenced based continuous learning app for organisations and individuals who wish to use this crisis as an opportunity to relearn and reskill.

Seek new business partners and opportunities to collaborate
As a result of the spread of COVID-19, many organisations have had to think outside of the box to address the spike in demand for front-line staff including those in healthcare, supermarkets, call centres, cleaning and delivery services.

For example, when QANTAS was forced to stand down 30,000 of its staff members as the COVID-19 pandemic brought travel to a halt, discussions took place to offer temporary employment at Woolworths; where there is an immediate need for staff.

Looking at different organisations a business can partner with is an innovative way to extend resources through other expanding networks, keep business going and open new avenues of opportunity that can exist for years to come.

  • Fratelli Fresh recently took this approach and utilised existing services to grow business during a period of little activity. The Italian restaurant is delivering ready-made meals and pasta sauces as well as grocery items and household essentials such as toilet paper, hand soap & alcohol.
  • Newcastle-based Earp has repurposed their gin distillery to produce hand sanitizer.
  • Stagekings Australia, a concert and festival stage production company are now building and supplying inexpensive and easy to assemble desks to support the huge spike in remote working.
  • Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association chief executive Alison Verhoeven said many workers stood down by airlines and gyms due to travel bans and social distancing shutdowns had basic first aid training and could be upskilled and re-deployed in the health sector.

While some cost-cutting will be inevitable, those who protect and invest in critical talent will win in the long term. Now is the time to innovate and explore new thinking.

The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to take months to resolve and the world will certainly be changed by it. Organisations must be open-minded during this unprecedented experience and adapt to a new normal of challenge and opportunity.

Image source: Depositphotos