The COVID-19 pandemic has made it more challenging to be a business leader. Business decisions are based on current events as well as trends and projections. These are no longer reliable these days. COVID-19 variants appear suddenly, causing surges just when the previous variant was waning. Experts believe there is no way of knowing when another variant might appear, how contagious it will be, and how severe its effects will be. Therefore, business leaders must remain vigilant and be flexible enough to make quick pivots when the situation calls for it.
Industry experts reported in December that the surge of Omicron worldwide halted the scheduled return of most companies to office-based work. Many companies did not set a new schedule, leaving the decision open based on developments.
With most, if not all, of the company’s employees working from home, one of the most vital roles of a business leader is to ensure authentic and ongoing engagement with them. Employees look to leaders for direction, guidance, and motivation. This becomes more crucial when the employee works remotely, without face-to-face interaction with teammates and the boss.
Top management must continue to communicate with the entire workforce and create a platform to express their views. Managers must have virtual contact with their teams as a whole and with individuals reporting directly to them.
Such regular communication will give the leader ongoing feedback on the pulse of the workforce. It will bring to light what they are having problems with. Therefore, businesses can address this immediately before it causes further issues such as lower productivity, lower quality of work, or resignations.
Another important use for employee engagement is to develop a company culture of flexibility and openness to change. Employees must understand the need to adapt quickly to changes required by the evolving pandemic landscape. This enables the company to survive and succeed and is, therefore, to the benefit of all. A leader must be able to communicate this and instill it among the staff.
When employees feel genuine concern from their leaders, they have higher morale. They also develop more loyalty to the company and do their work well.
Mental Health Management
The many challenges of the pandemic and frequent changes in the situation are stressful to business leaders and the workforce. Leaders must acknowledge this and help employees attain better mental health. This can come in the form of more flexible work hours to enable employees working from home to do childcare or take care of sick family members, for instance, instead of multi-tasking while at work. Companies can also pay for online counseling sessions for employees that need these. They can give employees certificates to purchase home exercise equipment or get a massage weekly. In the United States, paid vacation leaves for employees is much appreciated since the law does not mandate this.
Leaders must see to their own mental health, as well. This must not be ignored because a stressed and high-strung leader will not engage with employees healthily. To prevent burnout, depression, and anxiety, a leader must also get professional counseling upon the onset of symptoms. Other ways of mitigating stress can be explored, such as mindfulness training, yoga, and regular aerobic and strength training exercises.
Self-pampering is another way of addressing stress. It can be as simple as having a warm soak in a bathtub with aromatherapy oils and surrounded by scented candles. Going to a spa will give an even more relaxing experience. For some, going to a dermatologist for dermal fillers and other cosmetic enhancements is a great mood lifter.
One of the more common reasons employees give for resigning is to seek career growth. They did not see it in the company they left. Some even spend their own money to get training to go further in their career path.
Leaders must not allow this to happen. One responsibility of a good leader is to develop the potential of each employee based on their strengths. The leader must provide access to free training for growth within the company.
Growth does not need to be linear. Suppose an employee gains interest in a separate part of the company and is promising. In that case, they must be given free training in that direction toward a transfer. Identifying where each employee will be more fulfilled and productive is an essential leadership function. It strengthens the entire company.
Leaders must also continue to grow. Even a business owner who is already at the top of the company must never stop learning. There is always more to learn and the business climate in this pandemic is proof of that.