Elaine Walker has seen a lot in her 25 years designing and implementing global HR programs, but nothing compares to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not even during Hurricane Katrina when she was the SVP of Human Resources at Shell Oil Company facing new logistical challenges by the second.
“COVID-19’s impact on business is so much bigger than anything we’ve seen before,” she says. “But during any crisis, it’s my experience that 15 percent of people walk forward, while 85 percent stand still or move backward.”
Walker is part of the 15 percent. She and her fellow reacHIRE Aurora Guides are working closely with companies to give early-career women the virtual community, professional development and collaboration they so desperately need during this time.
A Fortune 500 pharmaceutical company in Boston, MA is one of those companies. When they began using Aurora to support the career development of women as a core part of their diversity and inclusion strategy, COVID-19 was unknown to the world. Fast forward a few months and the 100% virtual nature of the Aurora platform has become an unexpected lifeline for the company’s early-career women at home working on their own.
One of the most important things companies can give employees right now is resilience. It is the only certainty for future success. Resilient employees create resilient companies.
Here are three ways to build a more resilient workforce when resiliency is needed most.
1. Community. For employees around the world, this is an overwhelming time. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen” is an understandable and common refrain. It is a lot to deal with. Being part of a community shifts the mindset from looking at oneself to listening to others. It gives perspective and helps employees develop greater respect for others going through the same process. Learning and practicing empathy is an essential skill for future leaders in every organization.
As an employer, think about new ways to bring employees together to foster community. Break out from the traditional everyday norms during a time when nothing is traditional nor normal. Create small groups, host show and tell sessions, create virtual worry and gratitude boxes for people to share their concerns and kudos. The most important part of any community is authenticity. Be sure that whatever community you create provides an outlet for honesty, discussion and real feelings.
The words we are hearing from the community groups using Aurora are “togetherness” and “reassurance.” They see Aurora as a chance to “break away from work and the stress of the world right now to be with our community and deal with it all.”
2. Coaching. According to Walker, resilience is like a tricep muscle. It’s really hard to reach but you have to build it if you want to gain flexibility, range of motion and improve your performance. Providing coaching to employees carves out time to focus on building their professional strengths. It encourages them to focus on themselves and reflect on what they should be doing right now.
When you give employees time and resources to work on positive habits, they become more resilient. They are able to bounce back from hardship better than anyone else.
If you aren’t able to deploy a virtual coaching strategy right now, find other ways to make a personal connection with employees through mentors and company leaders. Develop a set of questions, do a lot of listening and be ready to offer help in any way you can.
3. Opportunity. Necessity is the mother of invention and we’ve seen that good things can come from hard times. Venmo, Slack, Uber and Pinterest were all born out of the 2008 recession. Employers can help employees grow in uncertain times by giving them the freedom and encouragement to drive innovation and color outside of the lines.
“I’m seeing a lot of women really paying attention and talking about how to use this opportunity,” Walker says. “They are asking how they can maximize this time.”
Whatever the answer, it all starts with resilience.
How are you building resilience at your company? We’d love to hear from you. #resilience #community #COVID19 #BeResilient