Oracle’s Nancy Estell Zoder on how to align a workforce during a crisis
Oracle’s HCM lead reflects on the questions leaders need to ask themselves in these trying times.
In times of crisis, businesses can take nothing for granted. A crisis such as a pandemic or even an industry disruption is bound to throw everything into turmoil – from team structures to roles, priorities, business goals, and companywide objectives.
Even under ideal circumstances, big shifts like business pivots or new initiatives can be stressful or require a period of adjustment. But when the crisis disrupts fundamental operations such as where employees work or even what their jobs are, disruption can lead to chaos, disconnection, and lack of direction.
During the large-scale disruption or crisis, it’s important for HR to deliver clear guidance on business priorities, team goals, and individual objectives. This laser focus on change management will allow the business to set a new course and direction and get productivity back on track. However, it is important to note that before HR can focus on aligning teams and individuals with new goals, the two previous layers of the hierarchy need to be achieved first. If employees don’t feel safe and can’t be productive, a focus on business connectivity may prove futile.
In the middle of disruption, the way forward may seem obscure. To keep the business focused, individuals and teams need to align to business needs and goals. The onus is on leadership to define what the business needs, what the priorities are, and any adjustments to company value statements. As the business reorients itself to a changing future, leadership will need to communicate with frontline managers and team leads to ensure everyone is on the same page. Clear and constant communication is key to steering the business in times of uncertainty.
A crisis is bound to disrupt everything, including team structure, goals, and more. Here’s how to get everything back on track.
As the business re-evaluates its priorities and goals, some questions HR should ask include:
- Is every department aligned with our new goals?
- Does each team have a clear charter for their responsibilities and their key performance indicators?
- Does each team have what they need to be successful in the new paradigm?
With business goals established, HR is free to focus on every employee’s potential to innovate and integrate with the business. And while individual, short-term productivity matters, long-term prosperity for the business relies on everyone being intimately connected with their teams and business goals and objectives.
When a business experiences mass disruption, individual responsibilities and roles may shift. It’s important that each employee understands what and how they are expected to contribute to the business, and how their performance will be evaluated. It’s also necessary that they know where to get up-to-date information on their responsibilities, especially if they have changed.
Continual check-ins to ensure that every employee feels connected to the business and to other employees is paramount. Employees who are left too long on their own may not understand how their work is being valued, which can contribute to feelings of burnout, stress, and anxiety.
Although in this article we’ve linked employee connectedness with business connectivity, it is also intimately connected to employee wellbeing. Therefore, employee wellbeing is not merely a box that can be checked and then forgotten.
As the business evolves and changes, it’s important for leaders, especially HR professionals, to check in with individual employees periodically. Employees need to feel connected to the business and their peers and their network of colleagues to produce their best work. During a time of crisis and uncertainty, feelings of connectedness, belonging, and worth taking on an even bigger role.
To ensure that employees feel connected to their work and the business, some questions HR should consider include:
- Are employees connected to their organisation, teams and workplace culture?
- Does everyone have clear goals and understand how they can achieve their goals?
- Are employees getting the continuous feedback and engagement they need to succeed?
Change is happening quickly, and HR has had to refocus their priorities, strategy, and tactics. But employees will still have questions and may still need guidance regarding their short- and long-term goals. Tools like Oracle Goal Management can help employees and their managers have meaningful conversations about career aspirations and professional goals. Helping employees keep their eyes on the long term can provide a sense of stability they need when the business is in constant flux.
In addition to more formal activities like goal management, regular check-ins are also an important part of employee connectivity. Check-ins can facilitate these casual, ongoing conversations, ensuring that each employee feels they have a way to communicate with their peers, their managers, and others in their networks.
Keeping employees feeling connected and in the know with Oracle Connections goes a long way toward bolstering morale and ensuring employees can do their best work.