COVID-19 has disrupted the world, and forever changed the way we live, work, play, and even how we spend time with our loved ones. Many companies have adopted work-from-home measures to safeguard their people; a wise and practical move which comes with its own set of challenges.
Mainly, how do you keep your employees motivated, and more importantly, keep their spirits up throughout this difficult period? People's mental well-being is absolutely crucial to battle this war, so much so that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and many other similar organisations have a dedicated site on coping strategies.
Yes, it is a tough time for businesses. But the reality is - similar to SARS - this too shall pass. And when it does, those who upskill themselves to take on a post Covid-19 business environment will reap bigger benefits.
Steering a company at a time like this is no easy task, where there are shutdowns and lockdowns. But I remain positive and futuristic in my vision and how companies should navigate their ship.
Even though the world is facing a pandemic of unimaginable proportions right now, it is time to buckle down. Start creating your own trojan horse where your employees are up-skilled and ready to take on the world when this subsides.
Here are five steps to help you start.
Step 1: Use Big Data to define your talent gaps
First things first. Start by identifying the biggest knowledge gaps across your teams. To do this, you can use predictive data and other analysis tools like diagnostic data to understand your learners and customers. You can also personally schedule online video chats with your respective teams using video call meeting schedulers such as Zoom or Google Hangouts. Map out what the teams are good at, where your industry benchmarks are. Then write down areas of knowledge and skill that need working on for your team. Do this across all teams and employees.
Step 2: Inspire a culture of online learning
The biggest barrier to online learning is resistance to change. Many employees are not familiar with online training. It is critical that you as a leader recognise this and address this mindset head-on. Let your employees embrace new areas like Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Gamification, etc. New technologies present the opportunity to develop a new kind of culture and a new learning environment. One of the best ways to instil this culture of online learning is to lead by example. Why not finish up a couple of digital training modules yourself first and share with the team your learning experience? There are many amazing Learning & Development portals, such as Lynda, to get started with.
Step 3: Create shared learning and development goals
Online learning and development should not be a top-down directive. It should ideally be a shared goal among employees and yourself. Create an online shared document or a survey to find out what your employees believe is most critical to learn. Encourage their feedback on each suggestion and then as a company, you can decide which learning and development targets you should achieve by the end of the next five months. Specifically in Singapore, platforms such as skillsfuture.sg or lifelong learning portals are great resources to share learning and development goals.
Step 4 : Establish your tech stack
Once you have identified learning gaps, highlighted the importance of digital learning and established shared learning goals with your employees, then create a document that clearly explains the technology stack that your employees can use as a resource for their digital learning. Most online courses will require access to a stable internet connection, web cam, mic and online tools such as Google documents, etc. It would be beneficial to you in the long run if you implement human resource protocols where the company agrees to sponsor some of the costs such as getting access to a stable internet connection.
Step 5: Monitor and Control
One of the biggest pitfalls in digital learning is the absence of monitor and control mechanisms. It is important that the company always checks in with the employees to understand how well they are coping with their respective online courses. Be proactive and try to help them mitigate their learning challenges. One of the best ways to help them is to implement a training buddy system where they are paired up (virtually) to complete shared learning goals. This shared responsibility motivates them to embrace online learning more effectively.
Finally, it must be said that it is heartening to see how governments across the world are stepping into action with Covid-19 stimulus packages.
In Singapore, the government has launched a series of bazookas amounting to S$60 billion to help its businesses see Covid-19 through. Which is the main reason why you and your company should invest this time of hardship to sharpen and up-skill. Use this time to build a powerful digital trojan horse for your company and unleash its full potential when Covid-19 finally goes away.
- The writer is group CEO of Verztec Consulting.