Human Resources and Management Consultancies

October 26th, 2020

In 2020, customers are not coming to your business place – it requires some fundamental reconfiguration of things

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted the lives of everyone – from the way we interact to the way we work. The need to effectively manage human resources is a growing concern and while many companies have ceased operations, resilient companies and employees look for ways to adjust to the new normal. 

CEO/Principal Consultant of ODYSSEY CONSULTinc Limited, L. Anthony Watkins, disclosed that COVID-19 presented an opportunity for his company to get more creative at what it does. “It was an exciting time for us and it was a learning curve for us in the organisation” he said. “We had to offer (our products/services) to clients who were now faced with new challenges (which COVID-19 presented). We, therefore, had to reengage with our clients (in order to understand their new needs).” He added that while it meant a slowdown in traditional business, it meant an increase in what was needed at a time like this.”

Luckily, prior to the pandemic, ODYSSEY had already started reconfiguring the business. Watkins related: “Last year, we moved to reconfigure our organisation – business roles were reconfigured. We knew we had to become more innovative, that we had to move to digital and that we had to make better use of intellectual property. When COVID-19 came to T&T, we did not have to change the business but we just had to speed up our reconfiguration.”

The company’s offerings were restructured and online training programmes such as Capsule Consulting started. Several of the company’s products were split and offered in capsules online.

But how is this pandemic different from the global crisis of 2008? Watkins related, “The global crisis did not impact on businesses in an operational way – there was a loss of confidence and there was impact on economic activity. Additionally, there were a lot of developments on international policies and economic issues accompanied by regulatory things. COVID-19 is quite different as it speaks to changes in how we work, where we work and how we manage performance.” He then drew an example: In 2008, customers came in to your business place but in 2020, customers are not coming to your business place – it requires some fundamental reconfiguration of things.

An additional issue that managers face is: “How to measure performance?” According to Watkins, there should be deep conversations and dialogue with people on big issues such as hours, rotation and salary change. “That conversation can best take place if there was initially a culture of conversation – how we have dealt before will help or hinder businesses.”

Leaders now have to manage themselves whilst helping employees through such a time. Watkins is aware of Employee Assistance Programmes that are available to assist with coping strategies through this pandemic.

Quality Consultants Limited’s suggestions to improve the employee experience while WFH:

  • Demonstrate empathy and understanding with employees working from home during the pandemic through regular “social,” non-work-related management check-ins. Get the employee assistance programme or other similar facility involved with supporting employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Engage employees to find out what works best for them and then agree on a structure for WFH, including rules of engagement; schedules; expectations; communication protocols for when, how often and how to communicate with them; etc., and then trust them to do their job.
  • Ensure that employees have the requisite hardware and software technology and equipment to work from home successfully. Compensate them for the use of their personal equipment, electricity, Wi-Fi and physical space for doing the company’s work.
  • Make required company information and documentation easily accessible digitally, ensuring the necessary security and authorisations are in place. Digitise hardcopy material to make it accessible electronically.

Working from home is another strategy that many businesses took to since the pandemic started. But how effective has it been? Quality Consultants Limited, a Caribbean business research and management consulting firm formed in 1998, conducted a survey between the period April 27 to May 15, 2020 – Working from Home During A Pandemic: The Employee Experience – and the findings were as follows: