Why building a resilient workforce matters

Oracle’s Rob Bothma says only resilient workforces have thrived in this “forced evolution”.

Discussions about business resilience usually focus on technology. Questions like these take centre stage: what systems do you have in place to ensure continuity in times of upheaval? Is your business connected to the cloud to enable agility?

While these certainly are key considerations, astute, seasoned business leaders will likely comment that people – arguably an organisation’s most valuable asset – are just as important to overcoming disruption.

Business leaders need advice on how to keep engaging with their workforces to thrive in periods of uncertainty and reimagine the world of work. Fortunately, smart systems can be leveraged to accomplish this.

A drastic operational change, like moving to a remote business model, would usually be implemented over a few months. Unfortunately, the recent pandemic accelerated this move for businesses, resulting in an overnight change that shocked many.

This inevitably resulted in a logistical nightmare for many. How can an entire workforce start being productive from home without warning? Insufficient infrastructure posed an immediate threat as many businesses were forced to equip their staff with the tools to work from home. Laptops and devices able to withstand the pressures of working from home became essential, and a reliable internet connection, a non-negotiable.

A forced evolution has, therefore, taken place. Businesses have had to evolve and adapt to change to continue with “business as usual”’ while becoming future-proof. Now that many employees are working from home, the next business challenge is optimising this “new normal”.

To successfully weather periods of uncertainty, it’s important to focus on building and maintaining relationships within a business. As social creatures, humans thrive on interaction and spending time with people. We need to find a way to continue engaging with employees and co-workers to maintain this much-needed connection, to avoid feelings of disjointedness.

How can we stay connected with our teams and manage work processes when we are not in the same space? Affirmation for a job well done has gone from a meaningful face-to-face conversation to a simple email. There is an obvious lack of one-on-one communication, which can result in feelings of worthlessness and isolation.

The move to digital meetings has become the obvious replacement for this. We have seen an overcompensation in this area, with more meetings being scheduled remotely than would’ve been normal in a traditional office setup. In an attempt to manage this workload, the “work from home” movement has become more of a “living at work” situation.

A more controlled approach to working needs to be implemented. Working from home should not extend your working hours; both employers and employees need to respect this boundary, as failure to do so may lead to burnout. It can become quite exhausting juggling work and home, which is why we need to properly manage daily tasks and employee performance.

Putting the ‘human’ in human capital management

Managing this new way of working requires a great deal of organisational planning and change management by HR practitioners. The processes involved with managing these systems are data-heavy and can be cumbersome and time-consuming to create. Without the correct tools, data manipulation can be incredibly difficult and may compromise data integrity.

Using cloud-enabled applications can be extremely powerful, removing doubts over data integrity and streamlining these processes, enabled by artificial intelligence. HR practitioners, working closely with the finance team, can now forecast a total cost of ownership and organisational impact with reliable and seamless analytics.

Some of these solutions have been developed to meet all these challenges and help organisations move to agile approaches to working. It can support the full gamut of HR services that need to be delivered remotely and digitally.

Employee experience and accessibility are key, as is the ease of adoption and compliance.

It's clear that people are the most important asset of any business, but we like to argue that they’re even more than that. Employee knowledge and skills are crucial to business success, and it’s up to HR practitioners to adopt systems that aim to build on the skill set of individuals. Not only does this add value to the business, but the person as well.

When it comes to building a resilient business, we need to look at how our systems build resilient people. The systems we implement today will determine the success of the business tomorrow.