COVID-19 Updates

Why You Should Tell the Story of Your Company’s Preparedness

July 22, 2020

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Today, companies can seek recognition and award from third parties for being ethical, charitable, diverse, inclusive, innovative, environmentally friendly, and the list goes on. It would come as no surprise, then, if we see a rise in such parties tracking and recognizing the “Most Pandemically Prepared” companies (so to speak). Already, Forbes and a nonprofit company-research partner have rated and ranked the COVID-19 responses of the 100 largest employers of U.S. public companies, and the Stevie® Awards, which recognizes organizations and working professionals, has created numerous categories to recognize COVID-19 responses by industries, organizations’ functions, individuals, and more.

Companies whose strategies include applying for annual awards, industry rankings, and recognitions of certain ethos may want to prepare their stories now on how they cared for their employees, clients, and customers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re an HR professional typically charged with accolade seeking from independent entities on behalf of your employer, consider that your business stakeholder/shareholders and employees alike are all invested in the success and the sharing of your organization’s pandemic response, and any objective validation of such efforts will be a metaphorical feather in your cap.

In addition, the most prepared, adaptable, and responsible companies in this arena will garner attention from other organizations (clients and prospective clients included), customers, and from prospective employees as well. For the last group — your organization’s future talent — candidates are genuinely and personally interested in your COVID-19 response, and this boosts your organization’s attractiveness.

Whether you seek independent recognition or not, you’ll want to have the story of your preparedness available to all parties cited as interested. While your response will eventually become a historical, point-in-time snapshot, it will be used to extrapolate on your company’s ability to act agilely in the future. Any modifications to your business continuity plan post-pandemic, subsequent policies to safeguard employees, and general operational adaptations will speak to your organization’s inherent strength, flexibility, and consideration for its most important aspect: your people.

Let’s take a look at how you can best gather the stats and story of your organization’s successes, learnings, and safeguards spurred by COVID-19:

  • Start now. While response tactics are fresh in mind, begin documenting what your organization did before related anecdotes are no longer top of mind, data is buried, communications deleted, or involved parties are no longer reachable.
  • If you haven’t been heavily involved in response planning and don’t know who to start speaking with, reach out to your organization’s business continuity planning team to gather all involved contacts and as much information possible. Ask if and how the business continuity plan is being changed from lessons learned during this time.
    • It’s likely this particular response included a wider team of cross-functional leaders, so upon identifying those individuals, be sure to debrief with each of them as well.
    • Don’t overlook the wealth of information the IT department holds. The need for remote work and supporting technology in response to this threat to employee health and safety meant IT’s time and resources were heavily involved.
  • If your organization has not already done so, implement employee-wide surveys to track sentiment and reaction to the organization’s response. Ask employees to gauge how their needs have been/are being met, and inquire around the usefulness of specific measures taken (e.g., office closures, flexible scheduling, newly created meetings to address managing remote teams and stay on top of trending reactions and issues). Determine whether devising a schedule of surveys is possible in order to measure any areas of improvement since the last round of feedback, allowing your organization to report statistical success of your measures to support employees.
  • Remember that any adaption from any department helps tell your story. Did your Learning & Development department issue trainings to help with the increase in virtual teams and the work-life balance of working from home? Were flexible work schedules rolled out and tools created by teams to track their members’ schedules? Did your culture committee or office’s social committee create mood-boosting contests featuring work-from-home pet photo contests?
  • Capture any measures taken specific to your organization’s mobile employee population. Did your mobility team make concerted effort to reach out to those on assignment? Did the team partner with your relocation management company to conduct formal check-ins? Were there any amendments made to policies and benefits?

The tactics don’t end where the list ends, but this can get you started on your endeavor to capture a time capsule of information around your organization’s response to COVID-19. Once you have your story assembled, the next step is to determine how to share it: that could include validation through third-parties, website publication, employee newsletters, and more.

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