Today, keeping up with the pace of change in business seems nearly impossible. The COVID-19 pandemic is continually testing each organization’s resilience skills and change management processes. Leaders are challenged with balancing business, client and employee needs, while leaving options open for whatever lies ahead. While it may feel like you’re surrounded by uncertainties, there is always space for strategy.
The cornerstones of success
Strategic planning requires a balance between swift decisive action and measured responses. Building and practicing resilience and developing an effective plan for change management are fundamental components to overcoming challenges — whether they’re related to the pandemic or not. So, how does this translate within your organization?
Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties — ranging from simple to complex solutions. As the COVID-19 crisis in Canada evolved, businesses were faced with new realities such as revenue decline, unique client demands, updated regulations and additional employee concerns. To be resilient means to carefully assess each of these challenges and develop an action plan that helps the business adjust. It also means to have the ability to resolve the current situation while simultaneously preparing a “Plan B”. For example, your organization may rearrange the layout of the workplace to meet social distancing protocols or adapt to new technology to meet with clients.
Resilience looks different in every organization. One company may be completely impacted by COVID-19 while another may have had little to no repercussions. The same is true for employees. One individual may need flexibility in hours to balance demands outside of work, while another may request special equipment to perform their job properly from home. To manage these varying circumstances requires adaptability, as different businesses may find different or multiple solutions for the same concern.
The concept of managing your workforce during a pandemic poses another important discussion. For example, if your workforce is being underutilized due to a shortage of work, consider using the downtime for workload housekeeping and maintenance. This will allow employees to spend more time evaluating existing caseloads and digging deeper for potential solutions. Downtime can also be used for training, such as attending virtual seminars to improve knowledge and productivity. This is also a good time to review and adapt existing human resource policies to accommodate employees.
Creating new procedures, rolling out new technology or adapting to client needs is only going to be successful if there is an effective change management plan for implementation. A rushed approach to implementation without a sound change management plan can lead to chaos, resistance and inevitably, failure. Proper engagement of all involved parties is key to being able to implement change. Engaging your workforce will help them understand the reasons behind the change and will yield better outcomes rather than forcing change without proper rollout.
Sedgwick's Executive Chairman, Dave North advocates "Embracing change is a core tenet that has always served Sedgwick well. Throughout our history, we’ve found value in embracing change because the focus is always our clients, our colleagues, our investors and our services—simply, our future."
At Sedgwick, we are partnering with our clients each and every day in developing their back to business plans and strategies. We will continue to share guidance and resources to help you develop formal plans of your own.