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Don't Manage Employees During Coronavirus Crisis

This is a time to lay down the foundation of driving high performance from employees post coronavirus crisis

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The coronavirus crisis as pushed organizations to re-think the way they manage the workforce. Are employees happy? Are they fearful? If yes, then leave alone working from home, they might not be even in a position to respond to an email. The job performance of employees will be far more crucial for the organization than ever to recover quickly from the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. This is a time to lay down the foundation of driving high performance from employees post coronavirus crisis.

Drawing from the job-demand resource model it is time for organizations to channelize their resources to increase physical, psychological, and social or organizational resources of employees to have an edge in managing the business post the crisis. Employees who are working in a physically, psychologically, and socially demanding environment will have a hard time meeting the organizations’ current as well as future demands. If the overall job resources are greater than job demands then employees will experience low burnout. Any actual loss or perceived loss of the resources will result in negative affect. The best way to increase the resources of employees and prevent any perceived or actual threat of depletion of resources is to care for employees than managing the employees.

Workload and Supervisory support: To increase social and psychological resources, organizations can rationalize the workload. Top leadership can instruct all the supervisors to go easy on all their subordinates irrespective of anything. Everybody is handling their share of baggage. Some are just getting paranoid about catching the infection. Some are away from family and have limited cooking skills to have a proper meal. Some are overburdened because of household chores. Some are going through the worst phase of loneliness. You can follow up with employees to show that you care. If possible, organizations can frame a plan to ensure that all employees have enough supply of essential goods and groceries.

Job control and autonomy: Now that employees are working from home, allow them to have greater control of their work. Instruct the supervisor not to drop an email for every little thing or get aggressive with subordinates for not meeting performance standards. Don’t forget that working from home can be very hard. There is no soundproofing system to not get distracted. Some are anxious throughout the conference call because of the fear of someone interrupting them. Some might not have a separate study altogether. Allow the supervisors to make discretionary decisions or relax the conditions to meet the unique needs of employees that are beyond the manuals and brochures.

Security: Employees are worried about their pay, incentives, performance appraisal, and job loss. Organizations need to quickly decide their position in these areas and communicate effectively to the employees. It is wise for organizations to provide job security and pay. A crisis is nothing but a golden opportunity to stand out. Any unfair exchange or silence can activate the sense of threat among employees.

Psychological support: Organizations can use this period to develop a deep bond with their employees by listening to them to help them cope up with this stressful period. You don’t need to be a therapist to do so because every time we don’t want a solution to our problems, sometimes all we want is someone to hear us. If the situation allows, be open to giving informal feedback and coach them to help achieve their career goals. CEOs and directors can connect with employees and follow up on their well-being.

If you fail to care now, you will be left with nothing but a bunch of emotionally exhausted employees

The author is a faculty in the Human Resource Management Area at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. Views expressed are personal.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak iim ahmedabad

Promila Agarwal

The author is a faculty in the Human Resource Management Area at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad. Views expressed are personal.

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