HOW TO FOSTER TEAM MORALE DURING THE PANDEMIC

As we all adjust to remote life and deal with pandemic-related life changes, leaders may need to try new tactics to care for team morale. Consider these strategies

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous economic volatility and many workers are struggling to adjust to social distancing and remote work. Business leaders also face new challenges as they adjust to effectively lead offsite teams while also providing support for individual team members.

Managing remote teams is challenging enough: But with world events causing additional stress and life changes for everyone, traditional leadership tactics may need to be put aside to maintain a cohesive team. What can leaders do to maintain team morale while also keeping productivity in mind?

1.) Establish a foundation
Morale reflects the confidence team members have in their leaders and their mission, as well as the overall enthusiasm they bring to their work. This confidence starts with preparedness and having the right foundation in place – including collaboration tools and a new strategy for how meetings and work will be conducted.

When shifting to remote work, be prepared to increase communication with team members. This should include a combination of formal and informal communication methods. Moving to video conferencing is a must; it will make meetings feel more personable and provide a level of transparency that traditional conference lines lack.

A lack of access to tools that can make work easier can also impede employee morale. If team members are spending more time on the phone with IT than getting their work done, they’ll quickly grow frustrated and disengage. Having the right collaboration tools in place will make a world of difference when adjusting a team to remote work.

2.) Be human
In times of crisis, it’s easy to put up a shield and lose empathy. While your goal may be to communicate that you’re a fearless leader who can handle anything, these actions can negatively impact those on your team who need to connect. Without an authentic social connection to a team leader, it’s difficult for remote team members to bring their full effort and impact to their work.

Social connections play a big role but aren’t enough to boost morale. Morale requires confidence on the part of the remote worker. That confidence stems from a sincere belief that the team can produce high-quality and high-impact work that matters to the business.

To foster this feeling, consider company-wide recognition for successful initiatives and provide insight into the business benefits of each initiative. That doesn’t mean you should become a hollow cheerleader – be serious and realistic. Even constructive criticism can boost morale when delivered respectfully. These tactics will provide important social connections and help individuals feel appreciated and motivated.

3.) Be mindful of different personalities
Adapting to a remote work schedule is challenging for everyone, but some may be affected more than others. It’s important to be mindful of the personalities on your team and nurture them appropriately.

For example, remote work may be particularly difficult for highly extroverted people. Try to accommodate these individuals’ needs for social interaction and work to offer a feeling of connection.

On the flip side, make sure that more introverted team members don’t get left out of the dialogue that takes place during remote team sessions. Find safe ways to encourage all team members to participate. You can do this by starting each meeting with prompts such as “I’m going to ask everyone for one new idea,” which allows more introverted personalities to gather their thoughts and feel more confident communicating with the team.

4.) Practice makes perfect
Working fully remote is a new reality for much of the workforce these days. As a leader, it’s important for you to be patient with yourself and your teams. Practice makes perfect, and as time goes on, work will become more seamless.

TREATING STAFF RESPONSIBLY DURING THE PANDEMIC: THREE THINGS TO DO TODAY

How can we get to the other side of coronavirus with customer and employee relationships intact?

For all the uncertainty we must live through this year, here’s one thing we know: there will be microfinance after COVID-19. Though we are in the roughest days of the storm, it is not impractical to consider how today’s decisions will impact us after the clouds have lifted. All of us want to reach the other side with our customer and employee relationships intact. We want to be proud of how we treated people in the most turbulent times.

1. Keep staff employed

Make every attempt to limit staff termination, even during your inevitable cash shortage. Beyond protecting employees from economic hardship, limiting terminations will improve your ties with customers. As lending grinds to a stop, and your contact with customers might naturally deteriorate, your existing employee-customer relationships could be the very thing that will save your future. Keep the employee, keep her/his portfolio

Before making a decision to terminate an employee, consider alternatives like reducing working hours and salaries (senior managers included), switching from a permanent to a variable employment contract.

2. Repurpose staff to client outreach

Of all the ways you can reorganize your human resources, one of the savviest moves is to reassign people to client outreach.

One of the best investments you can make right now is to maintain close contact with your customers. Many can’t make payments, but they are valuable assets just the same.

3. Communicate with staff every day

Make it your goal that every staff member will hear from someone else in the organization every single day. Early accounts from the field suggest that employees need to hear from senior management once a week and from their direct supervisor daily.

It has always made good business sense to take care of the people who take care of your customers. If the current crisis is an exception to normal business practices, it’s an exception that should work in employees’ favor. The humans who work for you are the keepers of your customer relationships, daily operations, and future business.  Treat them well.

ENGAGING EMPLOYEES DURING THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Seemingly overnight, the coronavirus pandemic has expanded the boundaries of how far organizations thought flexible workplace policies could stretch. Even organizations with more traditional workplace cultures, such as utilities and universities, are directing staff to work remotely in an effort to keep employees healthy and slow the spread of the virus. And organizations that already had a substantial work-from-home population before the crisis are finding they need to quickly and unexpectedly expand their remote work program for what may be an extended time period.

For companies across all geographies and industries, workplace disruption might be inevitable. The companies who effectively manage that disruption will be well-positioned not only to maintain business operations throughout the outbreak, but better prepared for future crises, too. As employees pack up their laptops to work from remote locations, workplace strategists and corporate real estate leaders can play a key role in shaping productive, engaging workplace culture and behaviors wherever that work takes place.

Following are tips for ensuring employees have the tools and support they need to be productive, effective and connected while working remotely.

1. Prioritize health and wellness above all else

As COVID-19 spreads to an ever-growing segment of the global population, the top priority of every organization in this time of crisis should be on protecting the health of its talent, customers, vendors and other stakeholders. Countless organizations are demonstrating their commitment to slowing the spread of the virus by closing facilities (or parts of them), and deploying a remote working plan.

While sending employees to work in the self-contained bubbles of their homes keeps a large segment of workers safe, what about employees who cannot do their jobs remotely? Some organizations are quarantining mission-critical functional areas that must remain in operation, cordoning off physical spaces where those employees can do their jobs without coming into contact with other people. Some energy companies are even exploring the idea of having power plant operators sleep in the plant to minimize exposure to germs.

2. Build the right infrastructure for the virtual workplace

At its core, a virtual workplace includes many of the same elements as a physical one: places to collaborate, share ideas and get work done. Yet it can take a Herculean effort to ensure each employee has the basic technology to be effective in that virtual environment: laptops, file sharing systems, access to essential software, a mobile phone and high speed Wi-Fi at home.

In addition to this basic infrastructure, organizations will need to provide access to the right collaboration and communication tools to work together virtually.

It can be helpful to have a digital workplace manager or team to support people as they get set up to work remotely. A support team could include a workplace designer who provides the advice and tools needed to set up an ergonomic workstation at home, as well as a virtual help desk to help employees navigate the complexities of setting up their home systems.

3. Combat productivity/engagement pits with virtual cultural initiatives

In a new reality when even coffee shops and bars are closed down in many cities, working from home with little in-person interaction for even a few days can feel isolating for some people, which can diminish both productivity and engagement.

Organizations must make a proactive effort to combat these impacts, taking steps to ensure employees still feel connected even if they aren’t in close proximity. Virtual coffee talks, happy hours or book clubs, along with gaming and avatar-based socialization can go a long way toward achieving that goal.

As you think about how to reinforce organizational culture, it is important to acknowledge the variety of challenges employees will face during COVID-19 social distancing. A single, extroverted employee working alone from a small apartment may be feeling deep loneliness, while a working parent may be under intense pressure to care for small children or manage home schooling in the midst of their workday. As such, their desire/ability to participate in virtual cultural events may differ, but all employees can benefit from regular phone or video calls with their direct teams about work-related matters and digital collaboration tools that make it easier to work together.

4. Explore alternative work sites beyond home and the office

In some instances, employees will be unable to go into the corporate office as usual, but working from home isn’t an option—either because the nature of an individual’s role is too sensitive to be carried out in an unsecured location, they need access to equipment or programs that are inaccessible remotely, or because their home environment is not conducive to work.

That’s why some organizations are assessing alternative work sites, such as sterilized coworking centers. If you are considering such an option, it’s important to have a clear understanding of their sanitation processes and schedule, and who has access to the facility. Longer term, more organizations may see the value in identifying a network of alternative work sites where employees can be productive during emergency situations.

5. Treat communication as a two-way street

Clear communication is essential to provide transparency during these fast-changing times. Establish protocols and guidelines to communicate information to employees and business partners on your infectious disease outbreak response plans. An intranet site can serve as a way for employees to access any information they are seeking about COVID-19 workplace policies and updates. 

Recognize that employees will have many concerns about the impact not only to their workday, but also about the longer-term implications for the economy and their job. Communicate early and often about the impacts of the pandemic to your business and the expectations for employees during this period, and set up feedback channels for employees who have concerns and questions.

HR STRATEGIES FOR A POST COVID-19 WORKPLACE

We understand how difficult it is right now to look toward the future and resume normalcy while COVID-19 is inundating our professional and personal lives. However, when things return to normal and our employees return to work, there are certain “human resources” perspectives to take into consideration for our businesses.

Here are five HR perspectives, or strategies, that can benefit your employees and the company’s bottom line:

  • Employee personalization

Employees don’t want to be viewed as faceless cogs in a larger machine—they want to be recognized for the unique value each brings to the company. This uniqueness is something employers are beginning to embrace too.

Companies need to offer more personalized benefits and online tools. The idea is that providing a wide array of options will suit the unique needs of employees from any background and in any stage of their careers.

  • A focus on wellness

After dealing with the anxiety and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, employers will need to put more focus on the mental health and overall wellness of its employees. Holistic benefits are a common way of introducing wellness to a company. These benefits address all aspects of well-being, including mental health and financial security.

  • Workplace flexibility

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, a fluctuating workplace landscape was developing.  After working from home for weeks, some employees may be reluctant to return to the standard in-person office hours.

While policies will differ by company, the idea is that employees want some workplace flexibility when their personal lives require it. It could be something as simple as letting them work from home once in a while. Regardless of how you choose to handle flexibility within your company, this will continue in 2020 and likely expand its prevalence as the familiarity of remote working increases.

  • Employee upskilling

As the employee personalization trend illustrates, employees want to be appreciated on an individual level. One way employers can show their appreciation is through upskilling. Not only does this help employees feel valued, but it also helps fill knowledge gaps within the company. Internal growth opportunities need to be encouraged.

  • AI-driven technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) will be a continuing trend for the foreseeable future as employers look to reduce costs in a potentially down economy. AI empowers companies to achieve more than ever before, for a fraction of the effort. Commonly, AI is being used by HR to help administrate their human capital.

Some employers are using AI systems to autonomously screen candidates and move prospective hires through the application process, saving HR teams untold hours. Other employers are using AI to monitor employees so they can strategically address performance issues on an individual basis.

When it comes to tracking complex data sets, AI will be the answer for HR. Keep an eye out as this innovative technology permeates deeper into the HR realm.

Looking forward

While these initiatives are recommended, they might not necessarily work for every company. However, in a post-COVID-19 environment, where employees have had to adjust how they work, all companies should shift toward a more human-focused approach to give them an edge in employee productivity and morale.

OUTSIDE-OF-THE-BOX IDEAS TO FIND A JOB OR STAY RELEVANT POST COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has already taken its toll on many organizations. Some of them have shut down completely and some others are struggling to stay afloat. Many companies have downsized, leaving a large number of unemployed people. Now is a good time to plan ahead for your survival in the work sector post COVID-19.

Here are some ways you can stay relevant and even find a job after this whole pandemic blows over:

1.) Make yourself indispensable

Start right now by making yourself indispensable. Stay in close touch with your boss and other leaders at your company to determine what they need to succeed and how you can make their lives easier. Do everything in your power to effectively get things done and become the go-to person when there’s a problem. Let the powers that be know you’re the person who takes decisive actions and makes things happen. It’s an aggressive approach, but tough times call for bold actions. 

2.) Take on Contract roles to stay relevant

These are usually short-or-medium-term temporary roles. Companies will most likely hire more contractors rather than full-time permanent employees. There’s less risk and obligations to hire someone on a short-term basis. It buys time as management tries to figure out how things will change and what its ultimate needs will be.

By working on a contract with a company, you will make new contacts, build your network and have the possibility of being converted to a permanent employee. It also shows prospective employers that you’re industrious, picked up new skills and stayed relevant.

3.) Pivot or reinvent yourself

If you’re in a career that was irrevocably damaged, you need to reinvent yourself or pivot to a new line of work. Sometimes a hot area becomes cold overnight. The opportunities dry up and you have to move onto something different. Use this time to start preparing a “Plan B” for the possibility of things going south. This may entail going back to school to learn skills for a new type of career, obtain accreditations and certifications or accepting a job at the bottom and starting all over again in a new field.

Pivoting is a little different. Find a way that your skills, experience and knowledge can crossover into another field. You may have to take a couple of steps backward financially, but you can start rebuilding and quickly grow your career again.

4.) You may have to relocate 

You’ll need to be open-minded and make adjustments to your life. There will be cities and states that fare better than others and offer more opportunities. If you are only fishing in one small pond, you’re missing the entire ocean of fish. It’s not easy to pack your belongings and family to leave town for another city, but it’s something that you have to seriously consider if where you currently live doesn’t provide you sufficient opportunities to find a new job or grow your career.

5.) Remote jobs will become more prevalent

One of the more positive consequences of the coronavirus is that companies have recognized that people can effectively work from home. Start searching for job listings that offer that work-from-home arrangement. Even if a job listing doesn’t say that the company is open to work-from-home options, ask anyway. You have nothing to lose.

6.) Start a business

If you have a bit of an entrepreneurial streak in you and you’ve lost your job, you can create your own job. You can offer the advice, guidance and counsel you gave to your former employer to an array of businesses that need help, but don’t have the financial wherewithal to hire. Either you can make a go of it and make some money or it’s something smart to have on your resume.

Finally, you need to understand that the fall of some gives room for the rise of others. So choose not to be among the fallen in the work sector but among the rising.

Source: Forbes.com

HOW TO DEAL WITH JOB INSECURITY

Insecurity is primarily a product of uncertainty and lack of self confidence. The fear of the unknown triggers a feeling of insecurity and it is all psychological. The mind of an insecure person revolves around a lot of ‘what if’ and this plays out in many different areas, the work environment inclusive.

The feeling of insecurity in the work place stems from both the employer and the employee. The employer could cause insecurity in the employee by inundated threats to the employee. These kind of threats would inadvertently cause fear in the employee, fear of losing his job. Focus on the weaknesses of employees can also stir up insecurity.

On the part of the employee, insecurity may be an effect of some negative experiences outside of the work place, perhaps from relationships and family affairs which led to a low self-esteem. Insecurity affects the performance of the employee and invariably, productivity.

It must be understood that insecurity is a function of the emotions and once the emotions are steered in the right direction, insecurity will be overcome.

So employers can help their employees overcome insecurity by creating a tension-free work environment and setting up systems that engage the strengths and abilities of their employees in order to get maximum productivity out of them.

Employees can also help themselves step out of the insecurity zone by reminding themselves that they are important, regardless of what they are told and how they feel. They can also try to add value to themselves as much as possible. They could learn new skills, attend trainings and try to bring themselves as up to date as is achievable. The more values are added, the higher the self-esteem gets.

Lastly, as an employee you must not allow anyone talk you down. No one has the power to make you insecure except you. Always walk with a winners mentality, understanding that you have something very unique to offer to society and even if you’re not there yet, you are on your way there. This will help boost your self-esteem and keep insecurity at bay.

WAYS BUSINESS LEADERS CAN HELP EMPLOYEES DURING COVID-19

The ability of an organization to weather the coronavirus outbreak lies in its adaptability, resilience and collaborative potential and these traits are needed  from  employees.

However business leaders need to prove their leadership and emphatic skills during this period.

5 WAYS BUSINESS LEADERS CAN HELP EMPLOYEES

  • Communicate clearly with everyone

Regular, open communication is key. With so much uncertainty, it falls to leaders to be the calm voice of reason and reassure employees, remembering that how you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. “Leaders have an essential role in ensuring communications are concise, unambiguous and timely to answer these questions for different stakeholder groups: What’s changing? Why? What does it mean for me?” Communication must be calm and transparent about actions and realistic timelines.

  • Shift your leadership style

If you are usually a decisive, authoritative leader, crises like the coronavirus outbreak will be where you come into your own, but it is not always the right approach when it comes to employee. Good leaders must be able to judge what tone best suits each occasion.

  • Relax the rules

This is not a case of ‘business as usual’…but at home. Any leader who fails to acknowledge the psychological impact of being in lockdown or quarantined at home, will be letting their staff down. Workers’ needs, behaviours and attitudes to their work will change. Savvy leaders must be able to distinguish when behaviour is born out of uncertainty or fear and support rather than chastise employees.

  • Locate the resources

When it comes to managing employees during the coronavirus outbreak, there are limits to the support business leaders can offer themselves. Without face-to-face access to therapists, counselors, in-house employee support groups or HR professionals, many workers may not know where to turn. As an employer, in this situation the best thing you can do is be acquainted with the resources available, and signpost them clearly for staff.

  • Know when to step aside

And sometimes, the boldest step a leader can make, is knowing when they are not the best person for the job. “Unprecedented times demand that leaders take a bold step forward and engage wholeheartedly,” says Armstrong. “It is not for the faint-hearted and, if someone near you is equal to the task, and you are not, summon your courage and step aside to be their loyal number two, it could be the greatest act of servant leadership available to you.”

Source: https://www.raconteur.net/business-innovation/leaders-mental-health-coronavirus

WHAT ARE TRANSFERABLE SKILLS AND WHY DO WE NEED THE

Transferable skills are skills that you learn and develop in one situation that can then be used and applied in another situation. They are skills which you already have but need to develop through different situations or events.

Transferable skills can include any number of things – team work, leadership, multitasking, budgeting, guest service, problem solving, coding, communication, research, caregiving and even patience. Yes patience!

I guess you raised your eyebrow at that. The thing about transferable skills is that it cuts across every facet of man’s existence so anything you are able to do to surmount whatever hurdle is placed before you is a transferable skill. You may not even know you have acquired a certain skill until you are placed in the middle of a situation that requires that skill and you just find out that you are able to flow therein with ease, much like a pro.

You need transferable skills because they help you adapt to whatever situation you find yourself. They also open up to you channels of income that you may not have had access to without them.

One of the secrets to developing transferable skills is to pay attention to everything around you wherever you find yourself and see what you can learn from them. Never take for granted the situations or acquaintances you come across. Sometimes, they may cause a certain level of discomfort but ignore that and focus on the great gain just around the corner. Your ability to learn determines how much skill you’d develop and how far you’d go in life.

So are there certain skills you just discovered or are hoping to develop? Come on board let’s talk about it.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A JOB AND A CAREER

We will be writing about a job and a career today. So many people think a job and career mean the same thing, but guess what?  They are two different things. Yes you read right!

A job is more focused on earning money while a career is a series of related employment in one field that provides experience for your future and helps you earn a better paycheck and living status.

Seyi worked as a janitor in a private organization after his secondary school. He gained admission to study Accounting, and went into part-time teaching to see him through school. When he graduated, he started teaching accounting in a private secondary school. Two years later, he got another opportunity as a sales representative with a FMCG company. A year down the line, he got a teller job with a bank. That’s a job.

Marvel started ICAN immediately after secondary school and went to the university to study accounting. During her university days, she became an intern for an accounting firm. Upon graduation, she went for her CPA certification after which she started out as a graduate trainee in an audit firm. Worked on more certifications like the CIA and became a certified auditor. That’s a career.

A job is something you do simply for the money. A career is all about building up skills through various employment opportunities, giving you the ability to move on to higher paying and more prestigious ones. Careers provide a foundation of experiences that help fuel your professional life for many years.

A job is short term and more focused on getting a task done. Usually, jobs have a small impact on future resumes because they aren’t typically related to what your career is or will be. Also, jobs usually offer less networking opportunities because your co-workers often won’t be continuing on to the same field as you in your future career. Careers are more long-term and are about learning, gaining experience, building connections, and putting yourself in the right position for promotions and raises.

That’s not to say that jobs aren’t valuable. Jobs show your work ethic, which is important to future employers, and money pays the bills! Jobs can help prepare you for a career by providing you with valuable skills like time management and communication.

However you can turn your job to a career.

1. Focus on a job and continue learning and developing

2. Get a mentor

3. Expand your network. Attend seminars, conferences etc.

4. Go for certifications in that field and apply for internship.

Do you currently have a job or a career?

Are you willing to make a career out of that job your currently have?

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CAN YOU TURN A HOBBY INTO A CAREER?

First off, let’s know the difference between the two.

A hobby is something which you like to pursue in your free time for fun and relaxation. A career on the other hand is a profession or occupation that is specialized, focused and followed as your lifework.

It has been said that if you choose a job you love, you’ll never have to work a day in your life. While this might be overrated, you can actually find many ways to turn your hobby into a career. There are five simple strategies to start turning your hobby into your profession. So if you’ve already got the will, here’s how to get the way.

1. Keep Innovating

Irrespective of the kind of hobby you have, you can monitize it by innovation. For example if you like painting, why not give your home  a re-paint. That’s the beginning of business. When you start getting compliments from families and friends, a new brand has been birthed.

However you need  to figure out how to expand your client base, how to market your product/services, and how to create an adaptable product/service.

Every aspect of creating a career involves inventiveness and imagination. Whether it’s how you create the product or how you encourage the market, you’ll need to learn to innovate. No matter how successful you get, you can never stop brainstorming.

2. Be Persistent

“It’s okay to dream, but that’s not enough—you have to take action on your dreams —every single day.”

So, how do you get started? The best way to learn persistence is by creating a schedule and  sticking to it. “Be sure to work at some part of the business or hobby at least 15 minutes every day.” Now, of course, if you’re really trying to turn your hobby into a career, you’re eventually going to have to start ramping that daily time up. But 15 minutes a day is a great place to start.

3. Listen to All Feedback, Even Criticism

Friends, family, trusted peers, and role models play a vital role in helping you to successfully professionalize your hobby. Listen to their feedback and consider their remarks, because it’s possible that your enthusiasm and passion are keeping you from seeing something that might be a hazardous obstacle.

4. Keep it Simple

If you are a hair stylist, don’t mix it with dress making. To begin the transition from hobby to profession, don’t overcomplicate it. Instead, simplify your goal and keep your aims clear. It will be easier to make a name for yourself and market your services if you can put an explicit title to your trade.

There is plenty of opportunity out there, and if you remain focused on your main goal, you will get there faster and ultimately have more success in the end.”

5. Stay True to Your Brand

It’s easy to feel competitive with other businesses out there and to compare your success to theirs, but staying true to your vision and your brand is the surest way to succeed in your work.

If you can stay true to your brand, you’ll enjoy what you do and others will appreciate you (and of course, pay you) for doing it.

Do you love what you currently do?

What is that hobby you will like to make a career out of?