The Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR) is proud to present an inaugural, special edition of the Phoenix Scholar™. This edition, Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging, explores various topics related to teaching and learning, organizational development, best practices in business environments, personnel management, leadership, and organizational change in diverse environments. We begin with a candid conversation on race with our leader, President Peter Cohen.
The Culture of Preparedness
The Culture of Preparedness
The Culture of Preparedness
Locally, nationally, and globally, the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) present a crisis for organizations. Businesses deemed essential such as mine: Financial Services, remain open to serve the payments infrastructure that bolsters healthcare, banking, and other essential businesses. Organizational leaders depend on high performing systems and teams to achieve goals and maintain a competitive advantage, but lately, the leading topics around the C-Suite include provisioning the right technology for remote workers, managing employee productivity, and worker flexibility.
The traditional work-from-work landscape has changed recently. In the past few months, organizational leaders have had to rethink and rediscover remote work, more casually known as work from home. The paradigm shift enables continuity for essential businesses while clashing an unusual burden of responsibility for workers who toggle between work from home and caring for and supervising distant learning for their children.
As the business resilience coordinator and advocate for my division, I have been at the front-line with provisioning requests for laptops, appropriate software, hotspots, secure remote access, and corporate phones among other business continuity and disaster recovery efforts. Tasks that normally take a few weeks to accomplish are now done in two to three business days. It appears that we’ve all plunged into the world of understanding there is a high sense of urgency.
From my rear-view, all associates seem comfortable with organic thinking and execution – free of all the bureaucratic red tape of the recent past. Shipping the hardware and instructional guides to associates’ homes were primary tasks, enabling a means for quick technical “human” support was secondary. With limited technical resources, organizational leaders can redeploy talent from other teams. Leveraging the talent from within saves money while allowing associates to utilize in-house technical skills. Besides, an associate never knows where his or her next move will be.
Productivity is coupled with an organizations’ success. Leaders use all available resources to increase profits and thrive during a pandemic. During the crisis, leaders should seek opportunities to offer incentives as a basis for output, which will induce employees to produce more output. Furthermore, emboldened employees accomplish more than less empowered and are eager to resolve difficulties independently, which increases productivity. Leaders should develop ways to motivate employees, inspire the direction, ignite action and encourage effectiveness. Involving and engaging employees in decision-making, merit pay, and incentives are good starters. I have witnessed that a simple “Thank You” can electrify teams to task completion and goal achievement.
In a crisis, however, leaders must emphasize flexibility. Remote workers are likely toggling the balance of teleconference or video-conference, double-stacked calendars of to-do’s while connected via Zoom or other technology-mediated interface for at-home distant learning for children. This makes for a challenging combination of fulfilling work and family goals. Parents of children who are special needs apply extra care and time to complete online activities so that no child is left behind. Here are just a few ways for leaders and workers to exercise flexibility:
- Workers should assess their situations and keep lines of communication open with leaders
- Utilize split shifts to balance between time for work and time to care for children
- Partner with another co-worker to cover two hours of the day/light tasks while you take a break
- Remember every employer wants a safe and healthy employee so taking a power nap to refresh is okay
Leaders, as myself, are likely a tad overwhelmed during this crisis. From longer than usual work hours, role expansion, talent redeployment efforts, documentation of processes, exercising of business continuity plans, to revamping and redlining of existing disaster procedures are now our new norm. In short, no leader was fully experienced or prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude. Practice will make us perfect; leaders everywhere are gaining hands-on practice. We are trusting the key personal attributes that flow through our veins to deliver on excellence. Together, we can re-shape how we manage technology, employee productivity, and flexibility. After all, the greatest resources to countersign organizational goal attainment are still human beings!
About the Author
Simone Arnold is a vice president of Global Network Strategy at Fiserv. She is also an alumna and contributor to the Center for Education and Information Technology Research and the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research at the University of Phoenix. She researches emotional intelligence, workplace diversity, and statistical procedures and applications for continuous performance development. She holds a Doctor of Management degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of Phoenix.