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3 Ways You Can Make Employees Feel Comfortable Enough To Return To The Workplace

StrategyDriven Managing Your People Article | 3 Ways You Can Make Employees Feel Comfortable Enough To Return To The WorkplaceThe pandemic has altered people’s lives in many ways, including forcing most employees to work from home. In some ways, this has immensely changed the dynamics of company culture, which hasn’t been to every business’ liking.

If you miss having your staff around, or you’re worried that remote working is damaging employee performance and productivity, you’re probably eager to get everyone back to the workplace ASAP. How do you do this, though, without harming people’s safety and ensuring that they all feel comfortable?

These three suggestions ought to help.

Have Consistent And Open Communication

If you want to have a successful business, it’s important to understand why employee communication is essential. The more you talk to your employees and understand their feelings about work, the likelier they are to be honest with you and become dedicated to the business.

Of course, trying to do this in big team meetings isn’t the way to go about things. Instead, you want to focus on one-to-one conversations so that employees can voice concerns without potential judgement from their colleagues. Admittedly, some people may still be nervous about sharing their struggles with you, but they’re more likely to open up this way.

In terms of COVID-19, regular communication can let you know who’s uncomfortable about returning to the workplace and find ways to ease their minds. That way, no-one has to do anything that they’re not comfortable doing.

Make The Workplace Exceptionally Hygienic

One of the biggest concerns that employees are likely to have about returning to the workplace is hygiene. After all, the reason they’ve been stuck at home for so long is that there’s a virus going around.

While you might not be able to give your employees absolute certainty that they won’t get sick, you can still provide them with an exceptional level of hygiene. This can be achieved in several ways, including using a COVID-19 fogging machine.

Capable of killing all but 0.0001% of germs, a disinfectant fogger could help your UK workplace to be as free of contaminants as possible. You’ll find such a solution at Ideal Cleaning, who promise that the process will only keep you away from work for as little as two hours. If you combine their fogging capabilities with social distancing and good employee hygiene, there’s a good chance that COVID-19 will never infiltrate your workplace.

Establish A Detailed Work Plan

If employees are still hesitant after opening communication and cleaning the office, it may be worth presenting them with a return-to-work plan. In this, you can detail exactly how you’ll ensure everyone stays safe, so the risk of the virus spreading is as low as possible.

In this detailed plan, you’ll probably want to include these protocols, as well as outlining how you’ll monitor and respond to employee behaviour. After all, there’s no point telling people to do x, y, and z if you’re not going to check that everyone follows your orders.

Your staff who are reluctant to return to the workplace need to know that you’ll do everything to keep them safe. Otherwise, they’re just going to continue working from home.

If your business is struggling with the remote working setup, then it’s understandable why you’d want everyone back as soon as possible. Just make sure you take all the necessary steps to acknowledge and protect your employees so that this move benefits, rather than hurts, your business.

2020 Analysis: Which Financial Services Sector Saw the Greatest Upsurge in Demand Due to COVID-19

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article | 2020 Analysis: Which Financial Services Sector Saw the Greatest Upsurge in Demand Due to COVID-19COVID-19 took the world by storm, inflicting people across the globe with many health concerns. Its impact was also felt in various industries and businesses, including an upsurge in financial sector demand. A study by Awaken Intelligence investigated how the financial sectors in the US and UK have been coming during the crisis.

The research can be found at www.awaken.io/blog/boom-or-bust and was derived from collecting Trustpilot data. They used this data to determine the demand for various financial sector services in the initial months of 2020 when the pandemic hit and the same months in 2019.

Financial Service Sector Growth in the UK and USA

The two nations have experienced an increase in demand for financial services. However, there is a significant difference between them. While the Uk saw a 175% increase, the US only saw a 47%. Despite this, both rises were sudden and unprecedented, forcing financial service providers to update their business models quickly.

In-person meetings were out of the question, and these services typically rely on them. Switching to new procedures was imperative if they were to deliver high-quality assistance to customers regardless of the pandemic. Customers flooded support centres with calls and messages, and many found it difficult to adjust to the demand.

As a result of the nature of the COVID-19 enforced changes, even the most traditional businesses had to embrace modern technology and recognise its value. With the increased availability of self-service websites and application, pressure on customer service agents was lightened. Through the use of technology tools such as voice analytics, it has minimised the average call handling time while enabling satisfactory customer service provision.

Banking & Money

Banks and other loan businesses in the UK readily offered clients a break period and holiday payments on credit cards, loans and mortgages. Banks also reduced rates on new loans in an attempt to attract customers and generate revenue. With certain branches being closed, banks would provide great emphasis on their online and mobile platforms to be used during the pandemic. Banks wanted customers to remain safe in the knowledge that they could still access a variety of services on their online platforms and still receive additional help regarding any queries that they may have.

The UK people took advantage of these offers, and the sector saw a 204% rise. Though the US experienced a 148% rise in demand, this reflects a need to borrow additional benefits did not facilitate that.

Real Estate

In March, the UK placed the conveyancing process on hold. This prevented completion form taking place and home viewings were against COVID guidelines. Surprisingly, the nation still has an 87% rise in demand for real estate services.

Due to the initial pause in the sector, there was a backlog of eager buyers and sellers. When the government reopened markets in June, demands poured on. Another factor that facilitated the rise was eradicating stamp duty by the Uk government, which is to remain until spring 2021.

The US witnessed a nominal 3% growth. Different states had their regulations guiding competitions and home viewings. Still, the main factor was that new listings became rare because property owners were unwilling to sell in a period of economic upheaval.

Insurance

One of the things people cherish about the UK is the National Health Service. Unfortunately, its services were quickly stretched because of the influx of COVID-related health issues. Scheduled appointments and procedures had to be pushed back to since healthcare providers needed to prioritise coronavirus patients.

Numerous individuals were compelled to seek private healthcare to reduce the NHS’s pressure while ensuring they received the best care. This shift resulted in a 311% increase in insurance demand in the UK. In the US, a rise took place, but it was only 26%.

The hike in demand in the US was relatively low because many Americans already have health insurance and did not need to purchase any because of the pandemic. Those who do not have insurance likely lack access on account of affordability. The pandemic did not suddenly make insurance coverage affordable.

Health insurance was not the only form that witnessed growing demand; travel insurance grew in popularity. Usually, only a minority of travellers claim their insurance, but the numerous cancellation resulted in a flood of claims.

Credit & Debit Services in the UK saw a 52% rise, but they dropped by 16% in the USA. Investment and Wealth experienced a 30% rise in the US and 119% in the UK. The financial sector is currently bracing itself for another impact as a second wave hits the two states. The uncertainty of these times holds the danger of rising unemployment rates and financial struggles.

What Now?

StrategyDriven Editorial Perspective Article |Pandemic|What Now?This seems to be the burning question on everyone’s mind and no one seems to have an answer. This year has been unlike any other in history. There is no precedent on how to come back from a world-wide pandemic. But we have to move forward.

Most companies are in survival mode, and they don’t have the luxury of a large bank account to save them. Every choice they make has huge repercussions. Talk about stressful. Unfortunately, this is the case for many businesses, mine included.

There are many thought leaders out there giving advice on what to do next. If I’m being honest, it’s been hard for me to trust what they are saying. Not because I think they are making stuff up, but because they aren’t experiencing the same thing I am. They run multi-million dollar corporations with a large bank account to get them from quarter to quarter. My companies, however, have to make smart decisions today in hopes of making it to the next quarter. There isn’t much room for error. This is a real fear and I know I am not alone in feeling this way.

Not only are we stuck in survival mode, but now my people have spent months at home working in isolation and isolation is dangerous. We belong in community, even with those we work with. Culture is critical to the success of a business, but it takes time and intentionality. In survival mode, time is a tough thing to sacrifice. I am constantly tempted to abandon culture and fight for survival. But I am choosing to hedge my bets on culture.

Roulette is a great example of the constant temptation we, as leaders, face every day. We put all our chips on black (culture). We act so confident that the people around us are bought in enough to place their bets black too. Then, at the last second, you push a couple of your chips over to red (survival). The people around you are frustrated and confused. Why did you abandon your bet at the last second? Because it felt safe. Fear forces you to make decisions that feel safe in the moment but aren’t in the long run.

Leaders need to be vulnerable with their people. They need to share their fears and concerns about the state of the company. They need to be able to depend on their people. You will be amazed at how your people show up for you when you give them a glimpse into your world. If you’re stuck in survival mode, how do you think that makes your people feel? They can feel your stress no matter how hard you try and hide it. You will have to do something tomorrow as a leader, so what will it be?

My advice: Get to know your people and let them get to know you. Talk about your worldviews—hopes, preferences, traditions, experiences, and beliefs. The diversity of your people is a great asset. People want to be understood for who they are, not just what they can do for you. When you tap into the intrinsic value of a person they will bring more to the table than you could have ever imagined. Make sure you can all agree to the purpose of your company, where you are going together. This is incredibly important, especially right now. You need people that can align their passions to the purpose so that they will take ownership of their role. Guiding Principles will be useful to you on the journey because it will help dictate how you will treat each other on the journey.

Lastly, make culture the boss. If you have done the hard work of getting to know your people and aligning to your purpose and guiding principles, then you are ready to let the culture dictate what you do next. The beauty of placing your bet on culture is that it will tell you how to move forward. It won’t force you to choose between your people and your tasks. It will help you use your people to accomplish your tasks. The choice will not be easy, but I am betting that it’s worth it.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Chris MeroffAuthor, speaker and entrepreneur, Chris Meroff, has made a career of testing new leadership ideas to see what works—and what doesn’t—in service-oriented leadership. What he has gleaned from his research has helped him build a fast-growing organization with a diverse and engaged workforce that understands the mission of his organization and their place in it. His business, Alignment Leadership Consulting, exists to teach leaders how they too can boldly pursue a workplace culture that prioritizes employee fulfillment. Learn more at www.AlignLeadThrive.com

Strategies for Overcoming Crisis in The Hospitality Industry

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article | Strategies for Overcoming Crisis in The Hospitality IndustryEvery organisation is likely to face a crisis now and again. Significant problems may arise once or twice a year, with smaller issues appearing sporadically in the time in between. Predicting what a crisis will entail is impossible in many situations – but it’s how a team prepares and responds that can dictate whether and to what degree a business recovers.

The Covid-19 pandemic is one obvious example of an uncontrollable crisis affecting almost every industry in one way or another. While many wise businesses will have a crisis management strategy in place, it’s a situation few could have directly planned for.

The hospitality sector has been among the hardest hit. Unfortunately, it’s also likely to feel the situation’s impacts the longest due to ongoing social distancing rules and a consequential reduction in demand and revenue.

Sales slumped by 87% in the second quarter of 2020, and despite tentative signs of recovery, over half of small business owners in the sector fear the pandemic will force them to permanently close. The situation has forced many to pivot their approach in order to survive – but effective crisis management could allow some to emerge stronger.

Below we discuss other uncontrollable factors the hospitality industry faces, as well as the strategies businesses can implement to overcome them.

What uncontrollable factors affect the hospitality industry?

The aforementioned Covid-19 pandemic has severely impacted what is perhaps the primary uncontrollable variant for the hospitality industry – flow of tourism.

Accommodation providers, food and drink establishments and other leisure facilities all rely on visitor numbers, but tourism can be fragile even in the best of times. Weather, political events, area decline and the arrival of competitors can all lead to unpredictable cashflow and a variety of other challenges from one season to the next.

Another variant looming large over the sector is Brexit. The hospitality industry is a large employer of migrant workers, but new regulations are likely to lead to problems with labour availability. It remains to be seen whether abolishing freedom of movement will also turn international tourists away.

Strategies for overcoming uncontrollable crises

Periodically reviewing plans is one important strategy for managing crisis. By building in trigger points to assess factors such as operational and market performance as well as basic financial metrics, a company can assess whether a long-term plan is still fit for purpose. In light of some of the events discussed above, this process can be vital in adjusting to new parameters to keep a company on track.

There are other practical steps that can be taken to prepare for the eventuality of a crisis. Taking out hospitality insurance with Gallagher for example can protect against damages to a commercial property or other unforeseen disruptions.

When such a situation does arise, establishing an effective solutions team allows a business to focus the right people on the task in hand. Members should have a clear understanding of their roles and ideally some of their typical responsibilities will be delegated. Electing forward-thinking individuals will help generate the most positive and proactive response.

With a crisis management team in place, wider communication is essential in keeping everyone working towards the same goal. Creating a clear ‘change story’ that all workers can understand and get behind – from front of house staff to board members – can be an important step in establishing a collective sense of urgency.

The hospitality industry is undoubtably facing a crisis right now – but with the right team and strategies in place, many will already be on the road to recovery. If you have any additional insights, please feel free to share best practices in the comments section below.

How to Handle Back to Work Anxiety

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Work Anxiety|How to Handle Back to Work AnxietyAre you returning to the office? Businesses in many industries are starting to welcome employees back either on a full-time basis or a few days a week where remote working has been successful, but after months of working from home, it is understandable that many employees are feeling anxious.

So, what can an employee do to feel less anxious about returning to the office?

Learn About Changes

The fear of the unknown can be what causes the most anxiety, so it is useful to learn ahead of time what changes have been made to the office environment. It is likely that your manager/HR have been in touch but you can also speak to them directly which also gives you a chance to communicate your worries and work together to find ways to reduce stress and anxiety.

Socialize with Colleagues

Everyone is in the same boat so it is likely that you are not the only person feeling anxious which is why it is a good idea to speak to your colleagues and see how they are doing – of course, you will want to do this in a manner that you are comfortable with and by adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Prepare for the Commute

It is understandable that the commute is causing stress and anxiety, especially those using public transport. Wearing a face mask and having hand sanitizer is important, but it might also be useful to book online and try to travel at a quieter time. If you are getting on a train going to Portsmouth Harbour then you can book online which will give you one less thing to do on the day.

Have Something to Look Forward to

As with any type of anxiety, it is always helpful to have something to look forward to as a reward. This could be anything, but a few ideas include getting your favourite takeaway after work, going for a drink in the pub or buying yourself new clothes. You might also find it helpful to have a nice lunch planned in the middle of the day either with a colleague or by yourself if you are more comfortable.

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are a proven way to reduce anxiety and can be done easily while on the train or simply sat at your desk so it is a good idea to teach yourself these exercises.

It is perfectly natural to have some anxiety returning to the office after months of working from home and with the virus still a threat. Hopefully, this post will give you a few ideas for ways that you can reduce anxiety and return to work with confidence – once you have done it once and got your feet under the desk, it is sure to feel like before.