Now that we are in the year 2021, we are a little more certain and confident that things are changing, and that too, for the better. A year ago, however, the future had seemed quite bleak, when the pandemic was at its peak. All we saw and heard of were lockdowns in every big city of the world. We were confined to our homes, holding on to just a hope that one day things would get better. Almost every industry suffered, mostly the services industry, such as travel and tourism, hospitality and aviation.
Nobody could do anything about it. We could only sit back and wait — wait for some semblance of normalcy to be restored. The morale of the workforce took a big hit with layoffs, salary cuts and so on. At that point of time, all that business leaders could think of was to just sail through the bad times somehow. Most of the businesses were in survival mode. They were just waiting for things to get a little better.
“COVID will not vanish any time soon. It is almost close to impossible to predict when things will return to 100 per cent normalcy. So, we will need fearless people with the ability to thrive and perform in these times.”
Sharad Sharma, CHRO & chief business ethic officer, Pramerica Life Insurance
Just when things had begun to look up, with the economies opening up and everything starting to limp back to normal, the number of cases have started rising again. Nevertheless, it is certain that things will soon get back to normal again. Businesses will again need to change their gears and shift to the ‘thrive’ mode. A big transformation will need to be undertaken from the ‘survive’ mode to the ‘thrive’ mode.
Talking to some of the HR leaders and experts, we have come up with five factors that can help organisations try and get back on their feet and shift to a ‘thriving’ culture again.
Building or acquiring a new kind of talent
Given the times, organisations will certainly need people who can thrive amidst uncertainty — fearless people who can drive a transformational shift. Either organisations will have to build these qualities in their people or acquire people who possess the right attitude.
“COVID will not vanish any time soon. It is almost close to impossible to predict when things will return to 100 per cent normalcy. So, we will need fearless people with the ability to thrive and perform in these times,” shares Sharad Sharma, CHRO & chief business ethic officer, Pramerica Life Insurance.
“During the lockdown, layoffs and salary cuts gave a message that things are not good. Now we have to do the reverse. We have to show people the positive signs to build morale and bring them back to a thriving stage”
Manish Majumdar, HR consultant, and former head – HR, Novo Nordisk
Positive communication & messaging
During the pandemic, layoffs and salary cuts had become common. These were indications of all not being well with the companies. Now, organisations will have to indulge in reverse communication. While acknowledging the current circumstances, a communication, such as ‘Yes, we know things are bad but we assure you that normalcy will return,’ can be very reassuring. While organisations may not want to hire, they can still give assurance that they will not take away jobs from their people. Releasing a bit of budget for people to implement and execute some formulated ideas will also give a positive sign.
“During the lockdown, layoffs and salary cuts gave a message that things are not good. Now we have to do the reverse. We have to show people the positive signs to build morale and bring them back to a thriving stage,” says Manish Majumdar, HR consultant, and former head – HR, Novo Nordisk.
Giving bonuses or salary hikes
For morale building and motivation, it is important for people to see positivity in the organisation’s attitude and actions. Giving bonuses and salary hikes can really motivate people and put across the message that the company is getting back to normal and eyeing growth.
Changing the mindset of leaders
It is not just the employees who were demotivated by the pandemic. Managers and business leaders were equally affected. First, the leaders are the ones who need to change their attitude and return to their high-performing days. This will help the organisation cascade the thriving culture down to each and every employee in the organisation, across ranks.
New interventions for transformational change in the organisation
People will have to brainstorm and come up with ideas internally or consult some experts about bringing in new interventions to change the mindset of the people and restore a high- performance culture in the organisation.
Nobody was really prepared for such a situation. Therefore, people are unlikely to have definite answers or solutions to ensure that things are brought back on track. Each industry will face a different kind of challenge, which will have different solutions. It is time for the big HR-consulting firms to do some R&D and come up with some practical solutions to help organisations make this shift.