Since the emergence of COVID-19, we have seen a massive shift in the way business is conducted. Each day brings a different situation to navigate, without much clarity. What is clear is the coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on the future of work and how it gets done. Just think about how your business processes and policies have changed over the past 10 months:
• Businesses were put to the test when they closed their offices and employees began to work from home. Figuring out who does what, how it gets done, and what gets measured is complex, to say the least.
• Seasonal staffing has plagued everyone. For some property managers, federal unemployment and stimulus packages seemed to deplete the workforce during times when several markets had record reservations.
• The CARES Act and FFRCA Leaves remain in place through December 31, 2020. Coordinating the leaves is challenging and further complicates staffing for operations.
• Property managers across the United States have been affected by floods, fires, hurricanes, mudslides, and tornadoes. These disasters, along with the pandemic, have expanded managers’ roles to include supporting their employees’ financial, physical, and mental well-being.
• Business owners have become human resource managers, creating new policies, processes, and procedures to protect employees, guests, and homeowners to contain the spread of COVID-19. This has been no easy feat.
The events of 2020 have taught us how important it is for businesses to be flexible and agile to adapt and thrive. The events have also taught us how valuable our employees are and the importance of employee engagement and retention. Retaining talent today means three things:
1) Creating flexible ways to manage performance
2) Investing in training and development opportunities
3) Increasing remote-work capabilities
Creating Flexible Ways to Manage Performance
Managers and supervisors in all industries have become more agile managing performance. They are finding that managing performance is not one-size-fits-all and are placing a greater focus on the overall well-being of their employees. Conversations are no longer limited to key performance indicators, performance metrics, and goals; they now include dialogue about employee experiences.
Managers are having real conversations with their employees, keeping lines of communication open, and building trust through real-time feedback. Whether working in the office or remotely, employees want to know when something is off or when they do something well.
Throughout 2020, successful managers have learned that managing performance expectations with more flexibility, empathy, and leniency is key to keeping up employee morale, engagement, and productivity. Every day, they have been finding ways to recognize and show appreciation for their employees.
Today’s work environment is nothing like anything we have experienced. Quarantines, lockdowns, office closures, and working from home all require different performance measures. Today, managing performance requires redefining performance measures and their purpose.
Ideas to Positively Influence Employee Morale and Engagement:
Simplify your performance process
Keep responsibilities realistic
Encourage frequent conversations between managers and employees
Provide ongoing informal coaching and feedback
Adjust goals and objectives during “significant” business interruptions
Focus on continuous improvement
Develop future skill sets and competencies
Describe how you will invest in your employees
Investing in Training and Development
Focusing on continuous improvement and staff development is key. By 2022, no less than 54 percent of all employees will require significant retraining or reskilling. (Future of Jobs Survey, 2018 World Economic Forum) Of these, 35 percent will require upskilling and training for up to six months. Finding ways to engage employees who know your systems and internal processes and also understand your brand is critical for employee retention.
The cost of reskilling employees is considerably less than the cost to replace them. For example, it may cost $6,000 to hire an employee or $3,000 to provide additional training and education for an engaged employee who will bring more relevant skills to your business.
Companies are starting to identify new skills their employees might be interested in and providing them with the educational assistance and time to obtain those skills. Additionally, they are creating internal programs to develop the talent they cannot find.
1) Continuously focus on the talent you currently have in your workplace, and create opportunities to grow their careers and develop their knowledge and skills.
2) Keep employees engaged with varied, flexible responsibilities so they acquire cross-functional knowledge and on-the-job training.
3) Find ways to encourage more diverse thinking among employees.
With learning and professional development, investing in your employees is a win-win proposition.
Increasing Remote-work Capabilities
This year has provided firsthand experience for many on the responsibilities and effectiveness of a remote workforce. While some tasks require someone to be onsite at your properties, laundry facilities, or offices, there are several other responsibilities that can be completed remotely before, during, or after standard work hours. Businesses now have greater insight into the responsibilities and effectiveness of a remote workforce.
A recent Gartner poll shows that 48 percent of employees will likely work remotely, at least part of the time, even after the COVID-19 crisis is over. (Nine Future-of-Work Trends Post-COVID-19, Gartner, June 8, 2020)
Think about what percentage of your workforce is currently working remotely, and ask yourself what percentage of your workforce will work remotely on a more permanent basis. While some employees want to return to the office, a significant number of employees are finding it beneficial to work from home.
When COVID first hit, many employees began to work from home (for the most part), but with the same responsibilities as in the office. Now, businesses have learned to be more intentional about the work that can be done remotely in new ways:
Identify which responsibilities and tasks can be completed remotely and which need to be completed on-site in person, regardless of department, position, or individual.
Focus less on roles and more on skills. Group similar responsibilities and tasks together by critical skills (e.g., problem solving, collaboration, and agility).
Assign responsibilities around outcomes to increase agility and flexibility and to keep pace with changing processes and procedures.
Maximize remote-work capabilities to provide greater access.
Head into 2021 with employee retention top of mind. Implementing flexible performance measures, investing in training, and increasing remote-work capabilities will go a long way toward retaining your workforce.