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Communicating Through a Crisis


Management teams at both essential and non-essential businesses continue to struggle with questions about how to manage their frontline employees as the COVID-19 pandemic runs its course.

For both essential and non-essential businesses, the needs of the organizations have changed. Nice-to-have technologies and theoretical best practices have become must-haves and those best practices are now critical to operations.

The reality is that management teams are facing tough questions: How does my business keep employees and customers safe while we continue to operate or begin to reopen? How do we get furloughed employees back to locations quickly when it’s unclear when and where restrictions will be lifted? And if my employees are unavailable to return, how can my business quickly onboard new employees?

Best practices from the frontlines

These best practices can be implemented organization-wide to enable businesses to ramp back up as well as to ensure the safety of frontline employees and customers now and when the pandemic continues into its later stage:

  • Communication with the frontlines. Employees are listening for guidance during these chaotic times. Communicating directly to the phones of essential and furloughed employees prepares your team for today, helps define the processes for tomorrow, and ultimately protects the culture of the company — supporting success for the long term. Through dedicated COVID-19 feeds of up-to-date news to direct chat with managers, employees are able to get valuable information while limiting exposure, improving operations, and/or preparing employees to return to business.
  • Training across the enterprise. Essential businesses have been updating operations daily, requiring them to train employees regularly. Enabling innovative micro-learning that conveys ever-changing policy and procedures directly to the phones of employees helps ensure safety compliance and agility. Training binders and classroom training no longer work in today’s environment, especially when policies vary from region to region.
  • Utilize effective task management. Necessary tasks change often and vary location to location. Effective task management through a digital workplace enables highly targeted pre-populated checklists, tasks, and location walks with updated COVID-19 site preparation plans. These preparation plans can be regularly updated and deployed with ease to frontline team members.
  • Access to an open shift marketplace. Broadcast open, unfilled shifts to employees based on targeted rules and priorities to ensure optimal levels of staffing. By allowing employees from location A to work at location B, employers can better utilize their existing employees and help maintain a lean number of employees.

By enabling an open shift marketplace, employees can take control of their economic well-being and work-life balance while operating within your company’s configurable rules — a recent study (pre-COVID-19) by WorkJam found that nearly 50% of workers would have to skip payments on utilities and other necessities after just one missed shift. Giving employees the tools to earn the income they need positions businesses to become the employer of choice — helping not only employee retention, but recruitment.

  • Mobile clocks for punching. Employees need to get paid, but physical clocks used to punch-in and out compromise the safety of frontline workers — creating a hub and spoke model for exposing them to COVID-19. Employers who implement company-wide mobile punching policies guide essential employees to use their phones to clock-in and out of work. The policy not only cuts down on touching the shared clock, but it also minimizes the occurrence of lines and employees lingering before and after work to punch their time card.

Leading with technology

The most simple and fastest way to ensure businesses are agile enough to conduct business now and in the months to come is to connect the workforce, from the head office to the frontline. For enterprise organizations, this kind of implementation and change management has traditionally been seen as time-consuming and resource-heavy — that is no longer the case with modern technology.

The reality is that we are living and working in a new world. Agile businesses, businesses that communicate quickly and can change operations with ease, will endure the changes in the months and years to come.


About the Author

Steven Kramer is the CEO of WorkJam, The WorkJam Digital Workplace is a mobile-first platform that enables businesses to digitally manage their non-desk workforce.

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