Over the past few months, employers have been thrown into a state of panic. With so much uncertainty, it’s hard to know which action to take to keep your business afloat and employees in work.
Understandably, when the COVID-19 outbreak hit, many businesses tried to cut costs as soon as possible and do whatever it took to ensure business could run as usual and they could remain in profit. This resulted in people losing jobs, facing redundancy and even arguments over sick pay as employers acted on impulse. With new expectations and additional measures which had to be considered to keep individuals safe, employee experience found itself at the bottom of the list of priorities for many, as business leaders had to adapt to change in very uncertain times.
However, when it comes to the people within your business, taking extreme cost-cutting measures and disregarding safety may be the biggest mistake you could make. With reports of a recession looming, leaders are no doubt looking for ways to reduce spend and prepare for a worst-case scenario. Still, cost-cutting initiatives can seriously damage the overall employee experience, which is critical for engagement and productivity.
In times such as these, knowing you are cared for, and safe at work is a huge priority for everyone. Employees that don’t feel as though they’ve been looked after are likely to rebel: take time off, put less effort into their jobs or lash out. It’s been noted over time that ethical organisations perform better, and those that make a conscious effort to look after employees are more successful overall.
As we’ve watched the coronavirus crisis unfold it’s become more apparent than ever that how your organisation treats staff in the midst of a disaster will define you for years to come. People are your most valuable asset, so taking care of them seems like a no brainer if you want to attract talent in the future.
We’ve all seen the stories of employers mistreating staff in the press: whether it’s not providing sufficient protective equipment; laying off huge numbers of staff; abusing the UK government’s furlough scheme or even falsely claiming to be an essential business. People have been naming and shaming organisations that have mishandled the crisis on social media and continue to do so to this day. It’s not something that the general public is accepting, and it’s unlikely to be an issue that future employees can overlook.
It’s not rocket science that employers should hold a duty of care to their staff; after all, they keep a business running. So why is it in times of crisis, when safety and compassion matter more than ever, many can’t take responsibility and showcase a more caring company culture? Those that have shown some decency and care have proven to thrive, receiving enormous amounts of praise in the media and online.
But for companies that have mistreated staff during the COVID19 crisis, it’s expected that their employer brand will be tarnished for the long-term. After all, who would want to work for a company that drops employees at the first sign of trouble?
Before Coronavirus, reports claimed that 76% of people wanted to work for firms with a good reputation and in light of it, candidates want to know that they’ll be taken care of and their futures are as secure as realistically possible. This means companies that have received bad press, viral criticism on social media and have received backlash face an even more uncertain future than the rest of us; will they ever be able to attract talent again?
Employee satisfaction is more critical now than it ever has been as reputations hang in the balance.
So, what can you do now to encourage positive employee engagement and make sure that future candidates have confidence in your business after COVID19?
Invest in Employee Assistance Programmes
Reports show that one in four employers have increased spending on employee assistance programmes as a result of COVID-19; this includes spending on virtual GPs, education, health insurance, mental health apps and even reimbursing travel cards. Some are investing in entirely new offerings while other employers are making sure that existing programmes are available throughout the business. Many employers are investing in welfare and finding ways to provide comfort in such turbulent times to employees in all areas and seniorities.
Review Your Benefits
While you’re experiencing downtime in your business, take the opportunity to review your current benefits. How do they compare to what competing organisations are offering? Do they reflect what employees today care about? Do they add genuine value? If you’re taking the time to invest in employee assistance programmes, why not review other benefits too?
Today’s talent frequently asks about topics relating to benefits, sick pay, salary, well-being, flexibility and remote working. Make sure these factors are promoted across the business, not just when onboarding new employees. Finances are about to become tight for everyone, so anything you could do to reduce strain on bank accounts or even daily life would improve employees’ perceptions of you massively.
Ask for Reviews
Almost 50% of job seekers use glassdoor, which makes it a great site to push your employer brand. Reviews and authentic testimonials are an unbeatable way to promote yourself as an employer because they come from external and trustworthy sources. If potential candidates can see what real people think of your business from an insider’s perspective, they will get a real feel of what it’s like to work for you and how employees truly feel about their place of work. Ask your staff to leave you a review but ensure they’re honest. If you’re a conscientious employer, this will be reflected, and your reputation will be uplifted.
Remember, when it comes to your people, cost-cutting isn’t always the solution. Furloughing staff should be a last resort to saving jobs in the long-term, not to preserve your profits in the short-term. How your organisation operates during a crisis will define it for years to come, whether it’s in the eyes of the customer or potential employees, so make sure you’re spreading the right messages.
If you need help refining your employee value proposition or your employer brand, get in touch as our experts are on hand to help.