At Gapsquare, we have always been committed to helping businesses create fairness and inclusion at work. Now, this is more important than ever.
This morning we hosted an incredible panel (video to follow shortly) which brought together experts in employment law, finance, and internal communications to answer difficult questions about managing people and workplaces in times of crisis.
Julian Hemming, a partner as Osborne Clarke, used his 30 years of experience to talk about cutting overheads, furlough and legally managing workforce changes. Emma Dawson of Stitch, a Deloitte Business, shared her expertise about how to keep communications going between employees, and Iain Lownes of Smith & Williamson talked us through cash projections for the next 6 months.
8 Tips from the Experts
1. Think ahead.
Thinking through how this crisis can have an impact on your workforce next week, in a month, or by September can help you plan accordingly. Any pre-existing plans can go completely out the window, and it’s important we are prepared to let them go, at least for now. Engaging your people in these conversations about the future will ensure plans are sustainable and employees stay with you in this difficult time.
2. Be objective and nondiscriminatory.
This was an interesting point in particular in relation to furlough. Any decisions need to be proof-read for discriminatory practices – for example, requiring female employees to take unpaid leave of absence because of the assumption that they need to take care of their children is a no go. It’s discriminatory, and will also result in long term business loss, reputational damage and employee dissatisfaction.
3. Whatever you do, try and get employee agreement.
The need for opening channels of communication with employees is more important than ever. Ensuring all employees have regular communication with leadership (Gapsquare suggests even daily conversations/updates), and regular opportunities to contribute and feedback, will lead to better support.
4. Keep it simple when projecting cash.
A fear of the unknown can make us want to plan for multiple scenarios, but when it comes to this crisis, keeping cash projections simple is key. Be sure to check your cash daily, weekly, and keep your plans current, but don’t overcomplicate.
5. Plan short term. It’s more simple and more effective to think short term, and to look at models that take us up until September. This means we can shift our focus should things change again - we’ve all just learned how important adaptability is.
6. Authenticity and transparency are key. Regular communications – yes, but it’s equally important that the messages are projected through the prism of authenticity and with a view of complete transparency.
7. Community building. This is an unprecedented opportunity for us to come together, and for businesses and charities to learn from each other and help each other in this time. Employees are strengthening their internal communities and supporting one another is a growing priority.8. Tech can help us manage flexible working. Tech is providing unique opportunities to stay connected and continue to support colleagues and employers. Zoom for group meetings, Skype for one to ones as well as WhatsApp for the occasional funny gif can make us all feel as connected as ever. It’s important, too, to provide these tools for connectivity, and let your employees decide what works best for them.
Ultimately, what our conversation proved is that it is possible to put people at the heart of decision making in this time of crisis. Empathy and transparency help with collective thinking, and that can allow you to overcome cash issues more quickly.
How companies are treating their employees right now will stay with them for many years. The crisis is temporary. The opportunity to lead by putting people first is permanent.
Gapsquare are here to help. We're offering a 'pay what you can' consultancy/analytics package to help you lead your team through the Coronavirus crisis. This is an unique opportunity for progressive companies to think ahead and make informed decisions around workforce change, so that work, business and individuals won't have to suffer.