Ten Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn From How Biden Is Managing The Covid Crisis

President Joe Biden has had some important successes in managing the Covid pandemic, including exceeding his goal of having 100 million people get a Covid shot within the first 100 days of his new administration.

Biden’s efforts have been rewarded with high public approval ratings. The Washington Post reported today that “Biden receives the highest marks [for his first 100 days in office] for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with 64 percent of adults —including 33 percent of Republicans—giving him positive ratings.”

Given his recent successes, this is a good time to highlight some of the best practices of his administration for managing and communicating about the Coronavirus crisis and the lessons business leaders should remember when they have to confront a crisis.

Have A Plan
When he ran for the White House, Biden outlined on his website a plan for dealing with the pandemic. After he became president, he unveiled a more detailed blueprint for managing the crisis.

Establish Objectives
One of the strengths of Biden’s approach to the Covid-19 vaccine rollout is that “… he has maintained a clear set of objectives that are easily communicated and easily understood,” according to Matthew Crayne, an organizational psychologist and assistant professor of management at the University at Albany School of Business.


Sobel said, “The Biden administration and the president are emphasizing that safety precautions related to the pandemic must be followed or there will be personal or societal damage and pain. Examples of Biden messaging: If you don’t wear a mask you could get sick and you can make loved ones and others in your community sick. Wearing a mask or getting vaccinated is not a political statement, it is the right thing to do.”

Don’t Waver
Biden “… hasn’t wavered on his vision for the future, and consistently communicates that progress is being made but the mission is not complete. This imparts both a sense of accomplishment and a sense of urgency into the population, both critically important to motivating long-term collective action,” Crayne said.

Quantify Goals
“[The] Biden administration made success in vaccine distribution quantifiable, setting his “100 million shots in 100 days” objective as a measuring stick that the average person can use to assess how well the program is doing, “ Crayne said.

Set Good Examples
“[President Biden] has used the power and attention of his office to take symbolic actions. Gestures like wearing a mask during public appearances and publicly receiving his own dose of the vaccine may seem like small and obvious actions to take, but they can be powerful symbols that motivate collective action,” Crayne recommended.

Create Understanding
“Business leaders should take from this the lesson that leadership in times of crisis is about creating a collective understanding of the problem,” Crayne said. “In times of the greatest uncertainty, leaders should articulate a vision for the future that is simple, actionable, and measurable, and engage in the symbolic actions that reinforce that vision,” he advised.

Build Trust
Brenda Neckvatal is an HR and crisis management expert. She said Biden is reminding corporate executives that the larger the enterprise, the harder it is to build trust during a crisis. “Leaders can’t be everywhere. Employees need to see and hear from leaders early and often to make that trust connection and move forward,” she said.

Michael Hamburger, CEO of The Bottom Line Group, said, ”One lesson that business leaders can learn from Biden’s crisis management strategy is to assign roles and make it transparent for the public. This allows people to develop their trust because they believe that a leader is better at working with a team who can carry out solutions such as, in this case, encouraging them to get vaccinated.”

Stay Human
“Biden encourages us to hear and pay attention,” observed Rebecca Maxwell co-founder and principal consultant with Asentiv New York.

She said that by “…. paying tribute to the losses and pain of the country [he] adds credibility and creates much-needed community. Demonstrating compassion encourages us all to look beyond our individual circumstances and understand our contribution to the greater good of the overall effort.”

Kasey Lynn Thompson is an associate professor who teaches crisis management at Michigan’s Ferris State University and co-wrote the first crisis management course for the University’s College of Business.

She said Biden’s initial response in recognizing the severity of the pandemic was critical in influencing Covid vaccinations. “He strategically addressed the dynamic nature of vaccination uncertainty by targeting specific groups and managing their particular concerns individually (i.e., African Americans, seniors, essential workers).”

Control The Narrative
Biden empowered action by providing the resources required to distribute vaccinations across the country efficiently and expediently, Thompson said. “[He] leveraged the expertise of credible sources to help control the narrative on his behalf.”

“[Biden’s] attempt to control the narrative by using credible sources other than himself lessoned the skepticism that vaccinations were politically motivated and that they were in response to addressing a universal health crisis,” Thompson observed.

The president strengthened trust and support by communicating short-term wins, including the number of vaccinations administered daily, according to Thompson. His “…sharing short-terms wins is an effective strategy worth noting, given the flurry of global articles that questioned and pressured their own countries to become more aggressive with vaccination rollouts.”

What Biden Could Learn From Business Leaders
Although Biden and his team have gotten many things right in managing and communicating about the Covid crisis, observers say there are two areas where he could take pointers from the business world.

Be Flexible

“The president and his administration can take many lessons from the business community in terms of handling crises,” according to the University of Albany’s Crayne, whose recent work explored the impact of different leadership styles on the global proliferation of Covid-19.

“Perhaps the most significant [lesson] is that of flexibility and philosophical adaptation. Business leaders are aware that managing crises effectively often requires a sudden and dramatic revision of their current operating model,” he said.

“To respond successfully to an unexpectedly changing environment, businesses must rapidly shed preconceived notions of what is ‘normal, ‘right’ or ‘our way’ and identify the idea that simply works best,” Crayne observed. “This requires a process of experimentation and a willingness to introduce and explore ideas that may, under different circumstances, seem contradictory to the organization’s model or mission.”

“If President Biden were to learn the value of flexibility from the business community’s response to Covid-19, he would be well-armed for crises of the future,” he concluded.

Don’t Mix Messages

Kevin Dominik Korte is president of Univention North America, Inc. He noted that “We are currently experiencing multiple crises at once, a vaccination rate crisis, a vaccination equity crisis, and a crisis in racial equality in general.”

But on various occasions, he said, “… President Biden linked these issues together, [presenting] one big problem instead of multiple small ones and muddling the message on each of them. Thus his message became less clear.”

The Covid crisis is far from over, of course. This means there could be more crisis management lessons to be learned by business leaders—and Biden—in the days ahead.


Innovating HR’s cybersecurity approach in a remote world

A majority of organizations were unprepared for the consequences of the pandemic, forcing employees to work from home and having to adjust to frequently changing lockdown restrictions. The role of human resources teams has been critical in deploying these changes and supporting workforces through these transitions.

However, research reveals that during May and June 2020, UK businesses lost over £6.2 million to cyber scams – with a 31% increase in cases. Cybersecurity must not fall down HR teams’ priority lists and should be underpinned by a cyber-aware culture, with supporting digital technologies.

Controlling remote workforces

From managing teams in the office to staff now being remote, HR managers have additional responsibilities and challenges on their hands. With many working on their personal devices, with a lack of antivirus software and home-life distractions, mistakes will inevitably occur. As innovative attackers continue to target uneducated employees, the issues of preserving security are clear.

It was recently found that 58% of businesses believed that working from home has made employees more likely to circumvent security protocols – for example, failing to change passwords.

58% of businesses believed that working from home has made employees more likely to circumvent security protocols

Other problems that could emerge include employees browsing inappropriate websites, which must be controlled appropriately by restricting access to unauthorized links. By deploying the right security solutions across all employees’ devices, HR teams can alleviate these threats.

Abiding by GDPR

From health and financial records to CVs for prospective and current employees, the private information handled by HR teams is a gold mine for cyber hackers. Moreover, HR teams must abide by GDPR, and ensure that the personal data they look after is secure and confidential.

The newest GDPR data breach survey found there was a 19% increase in the number of breach notifications, with 331 data breach notifications each day across Europe. And the effects of such violations could be detrimental, with fines up to 2% of an organization’s global turnover.

The main communication channel for workforces to send and share sensitive information is via email, which can be an open door to cyberattacks, with one in every 3,722 emails in the UK being a phishing attempt.

Employees often fail to remember to check they are sending an email to the right person, or that it has the right attachment, which could be because of increasing pressure to work harder and faster, especially when working from home. But by deploying digital security solutions, they can offer a critical alert for the user to validate their message before it’s sent.

The danger of phishing emails

Cyber attackers are continuing to take advantage of COVID-19, playing upon employees’ weaknesses through social engineering techniques by sending cleverly designed spoofing emails or malicious attachments.

Often, HR email addresses are made publicly available for job applications, which presents an opportunity for a phishing attack, such as when employees have been asked to attend a Zoom call with their HR department, which is a way for cyber attackers to gain access to corporate email login credentials.

To prevent teams from falling victim to these dangerous links and make them more aware of existing threats, digital technology can prompt users to check that their email is correct before sending it. These tools can also call attention to any potential phishing emails which may look suspicious, and prevent domain spoofing.

Additionally, email encryption and tamper-proof email archiving solutions can help to ensure that confidential information is sent securely, as well as these communications being locked away in a safe place. Such emails are stored in the archive for later retrieval, but in the meantime, are safe from deletion or editing.

Cyber education

Above all, users themselves are often the number one gateway for cyber attacks. Human error has been the biggest cybersecurity challenge during the pandemic, according to CISOs. This emphasizes the importance of human resources teams to fortify the need for a strong cyber-aware culture throughout the workforce.

By deploying security awareness training programs, teams can understand the role they play in keeping business information safe, how to prevent an attack and what to look out for when sending and receiving emails.

HR teams must consider the strengths and weaknesses of their workforces to choose the right program to meet their needs. They must also think about the regularity of the training, how engaging the training is, and whether there are any analytics or reporting available to highlight improvements over time.

As well as utilizing training for their employees, HR teams should also receive their own regular training, which covers the reputational, financial, and legal dangers that come with cyber attacks.

By having an educated and aware workforce across the business, there is less reliance on IT teams to keep personal data safe, and more responsibility towards employees to work together and create a secure culture.


The future of the workplace has changed due to COVID-19, presenting both new opportunities and challenges to HR teams. As the number of cyberattacks continues to increase, cybersecurity must remain a priority, and it is the responsibility of HR to ensure that the right tools and education are available to the workforce.

A layered approach is essential in the modern threat landscape of today, but more importantly, having employees who are proactive and aware to keep business information secure and out of the hands of attackers.


Why Now’S The Time To Open Dialogue With Neurodiverse Employees

until recently, the flexibility to work from home was seen solely as an employee benefit or, post March 2020, a necessity. However, one year of lockdown later, businesses are coming to realise that there is genuine anxiety about a return to co-working spaces. Yet, with many businesses yet to implement any mental health response to the pandemic, the choices they make in terms of the physical environment are even more important and fundamental to the organisation’s employee value proposition.

A New Approach
There are a vanguard of companies who are heading towards 100% flexibility, with the likes of Spotify, SalesForce and Nationwide implementing a ‘Work Anywhere’ strategy, which will enable employees to choose where and how they work. The most common trend for most businesses is towards a structured hybrid model, with employees working from offices two-to-three days a week.

As workforces make the move back to offices, it’s key that businesses engage with their staff to understand their fears and concerns in terms of the practical requirements, safety and mental health impact.

Considering Neurodivergent Employees
In this already complex landscape, it’s vital employers also consider the needs of neurodivergent employees that, statistically, will represent 10 to 15 percent of their workforce, or one-in-seven people.

Whilst some people have thrived working remotely, others have struggled. Additionally, a significant number will be anxious about what the return to offices will mean for them. Remote working has necessitated individualised workspaces, and moving back into a homogeneous office environment will be challenging for many – so now is the time to ask everyone about what adaptations they need.

Caroline Turner at Creased Puddle, which empowers neurodiversity in the workplace, comments: “The return to shared physical work spaces is the perfect time to open dialogue with all employees about what they want and need, and will give businesses the opportunity to identify individual requirements and act on them positively. In turn, this will significantly benefit the overall welfare of employees giving back both a sense of control and connectivity.”

There are several ways in which employers can implement workplace adaptations which can have a genuine impact on neurodiverse team members, with little outlay or effort:

Create quiet zones in the office and allow headphones for noise cancelling and greater concentration.
Agree to flexibility around start and finish times, as some people may benefit from earlier or later working hours.
Where employees have been on-boarded remotely, remember to offer them the same orientation for the office as you would any other new starter. They may have been your colleague for a year but they may still not have seen their desk.
Ensure wellbeing initiatives and work events are inclusive by involving neurodivergent employees at the planning stage.
Vary the dress code and review your old guidelines. The world has changed significantly in the last 12 months, and outdated rules and regulations will only hamper productively and wellbeing.
Ask neurodivergent or neurotypical employees what a good work environment looks like, and work together to make improvements.
What now?
Workplaces have an obligation to prioritise the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff, but by making positive changes and acknowledging all team members’ specific needs, businesses can only benefit in terms of productivity, retention and engagement. So keep talking, continue to communicate and inform, ask questions and take action. It’s that simple.

Source :https://www.thehrdirector.com/business-news/diversity-and-equality-inclusion/why-now-is-the-time-to-open-dialogue-with-neurodiverse-employees/

How can HR get a C-Suite spot in the new era of work?

The pandemic has been a catalyst for proving that HR involves far more than just hiring and firing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the C-Suite spot has been secured. How can people professionals seize this opportunity to prove they are strategic players who can make an impact at the top table?

27th Apr 2021
C-suite meeting Kosamtu/iStock
When I worked in a corporate setting I used to judge organizations by whether or not they had an HR Director in the C-suite or if their Head of HR was just called in to give advice when the strategic decisions had already been made. For me, it was a sign that product or service delivery took priority over the people who were making the product or delivering the service and that didn’t sit well with me.

Working alongside CEOs and HR Directors as an HR consultant, I now realize that the main reason why HR often doesn’t have input into the strategy is that little evidence is being produced to demonstrate the effect that HR has on the bottom line of a business and, ultimately, that is the focus of the C-suite.

In a lot of organizations, HR is still seen as operational and administrative, instead of strategic. HR is often considered the implementer of processes and the creator of red tape and bottlenecks not the innovative channel for change.

The pandemic has produced an opportunity for HR to demonstrate their value to the business, by creating initiatives that support remote working from both a wellbeing and productivity standpoint. HR teams have been working closely with team members to understand the challenges of home working and used that data to create innovative cost-effective solutions, highlighting the value that they bring.

While this is a great start, HR shouldn’t just shine in a crisis. We need to be making a continuous impact on the business and its people.

My advice to HR professionals looking to get into the decision-making room is based on two fundamental areas: data and strategy.

Do you know your data?
When I work with an organization I need to understand their business and their team. I want to know about their industry, competitors, ideal clients, and locale. I also need to know their staff turnover and diversity statistics at each level, assess their organizational structure, and understand their short, mid, and long-term business plans. This all applies whether I’m helping them to restructure, acquire a new business or add to their team.

Often the HR team (if there is one) is unable to give me a deep understanding of the business and refers me to someone in sales or marketing. They also often can’t provide me with insights on workforce data.

Last year I asked an HR team member of a medium-sized business if they had statistics on the diversity of their organization, I was told that they didn’t capture the data, but you only had to look around the office to see that they were diverse!

The information was required for a government tender. If the HR team was aware that the business was planning to bid for government work in the future, they could have put a framework in place to capture that data, but once again they were not in the room when the strategic decisions about business direction were being made.

Business skills hub

Are you strategic?
An HR team can only be effective to a business if they have a people plan that is aligned to the business plan and long-term objectives. Think succession planning, building skills aligned to future initiatives, and just-in-time hiring that gets the right people, with the right skills at the right time.

If this alignment is in place and can be demonstrated, it can establish the need for HR to be included in strategic C-suite conversations.

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Here my three top tips for demonstrating that you deserve that top table spot:

1. Demonstrate your understanding of the business drivers
To create a holistic solution, you need to have a holistic overview, It is therefore vital that you build your business acumen alongside your HR knowledge. It’s important to understand where the business is heading and use that as a golden thread in your planning, goals, and objective setting.

When business changes are being proposed, ask questions to understand the thought process. Listen to, understand, and then make suggestions for improvements or changes that would produce the same or better results, Also highlight any pushback you could see coming from staff and ways to address them so that you can be better prepared.

2. Demonstrate your understanding of the people data and what it means for the business
We need to get comfortable with data: collecting it, analyzing it, reporting it, and making data-based decisions and recommendations.

Capture the relevant set of employee data for your business. Examples include recruitment, turnover, exit interviews, sickness absence, and stress levels. Monitor them every month and use them to identify any issues and support your proposals for changes and investment.

3. Talk about savings or income generation
Learn to speak the same language as the C-suite. Discuss your proposals and how they will improve the bottom line of the business. For example, investing in leadership development will reduce turnover, saving hiring costs, and improve motivation and productivity.

HR professionals need to prove that they can bring value to the leadership team, but that doesn’t mean losing the focus on people. It means doing your research and compiling the data to support your ideas and using the positive results to build your reputation as a valued strategic partner.


The Secret To Wellbeing At Work Is…. Leadership

We spent the last 15 months talking with hundreds of HR leaders about their well-being programs and the focus is massive. Companies are hiring Chief Health Officers, Head of Safety and Well-being, and Directors of Well-being like never before. In fact, there are 55,000 jobs now open for Directors of Wellbeing, VP’s of Wellbeing, or Wellbeing managers in business.

Where is all this going? As our Wellbeing research points out, this is a complex topic – one that covers physical health (diet, exercise, sleep, physical safety), mental health (stress, anxiety, depression, loneliness), financial health (standard of living, lifestyle, budget, debt), and family health (children, family, marriage). And we, as HR and business leaders, now feel responsible for it all.

And it’s even more complex than this. Our new Employee Experience research, which will be launched in a few months, found that the #1 driver of outcomes is not workplace safety and wellbeing, but trust, transparency, and psychological safety. So we have to include diversity, inclusion, and culture in the mix.

Well, just this week we had a call with seven CHROs from large companies in Canada, and I want to share what we learned. These companies range from large financial institutions to healthcare providers, software companies, and IT manufacturers. And after deep discussions of their benefits programs, the proliferation of offerings they’re dealing with (Salesforce, for example, offers more than 270 different health and wellbeing benefit offerings), we agreed on one big thing.

Underneath all the safety, health, and fitness programs the company offers is a pressing need for Human-Centered Leadership. If you really think about it, what really holds people up at work is a sense of psychological safety. If I’m upset or unhappy, can I raise the issue and will somebody listen or will I be punished? If I’m behind on my project, can I explain why? If I’m not getting along with my manager, is there a place we can talk about it?

One of the HR leaders made it very clear. “When our CEO and senior leaders started having all hands meetings and discussed their own challenges with stress, anxiety, and overwork, everyone felt relief.” The company is now training all its leaders in listening, flexibility, and care. Overwork is an epidemic right now and banks like JPM Chase are implementing new management policies to force people to take weekends off. As I put it early in the pandemic, CEO now means Chief Empathy Officer.

And that means leaders must also take care of themselves. A new study by EMSI and Visier shows that mid-level managers are resigning 11% faster than any other employee group right now, they feel the stress more than ever. And new research shows that 3 out of 10 healthcare workers are planning to leave their profession.

What is Human-Centered Leadership?

These work-related, wellbeing, and leadership topics, have a massive impact on wellbeing, health, and mental fitness.

One of the companies we talked with this week was the Bank of Montreal. They told us that in addition to focusing on workplace safety and wellbeing, one of their most successful new programs is teaching managers about mental health and emotional fitness. Just as companies mandate compliance training on diversity, harassment, and anti-money laundering, they are now including education on stress, anxiety, and behavioral health for leaders.

I think this is a massive and important trend. Leadership is key to well-being at work.

Managers and leaders have a much bigger role than “driving results.” We are responsible for taking care of people, monitoring our own behavior, and making sure we are creating a net-positive impact on the entire organization. While business schools don’t teach leaders about the emotional and behavioral issues at work, I think they should. We, as leaders (and we are all leaders at various points in the day), have to think about well-being as one of our most important goals.

Here, for example, is the head of Investment Banking at JPM Chase discussing their new policy:

Let’s move Well-being out of the “benefits department” and make it part of the corporate culture. If you think about it this way I am convinced your company will do the right things.


Human-Centered leadershipFirst, read our brand new research on Human-Centered Leadership, developed through hundreds of interviews with HR and business leaders throughout the last year.

Second, read up on the Wellbeing Marketplace, to get a perspective on the massive range of solutions available in the market.

Our Senior Director Janet Mertens is leading our research in this area, please reach out to us if you’d like to share your story or get some assistance with your Wellbeing strategy.


Disciplining staff for misconduct outside the workplace

If an employee is accused of misconduct in the workplace, it is usually clear to employers whether a disciplinary investigation needs to be carried out. However, if an employee is accused of misconduct that has taken place outside the workplace, employers may feel unsure as to whether they should, or even have the right to, initiate disciplinary proceedings.

If an employee is subject to a disciplinary process at work because of allegations of misconduct outside the workplace, they are likely to argue that the allegations have nothing to do with their employment and that their employer has no right to intrude in their personal lives.

If it is the case that the misconduct had no impact on their employment, the individual could bring claims in the employment tribunal for wrongful or unfair dismissal (if they have more than two years’ service), as well as a case for discrimination or whistleblowing if the employee believes that misconduct is not the real reason for dismissal. However, there may be factors that mean there is an overlap between the employee’s private life and their employment, and so it is not clear cut. For example, this could be the case if the employee’s behavior outside work affected colleagues or if the individual used company property or systems to commit misconduct outside the workplace.

Risk to a business’s reputation or a loss of trust in the employee’s ability to do their job may also be factors. In some cases, criminal proceedings may directly affect the organization (particularly if they are regulated and have a duty to report) or the employer may have a zero-tolerance policy on particular kinds of behavior outside the workplace.

The recent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case of K v L is one such example of this overlap. The employer, a school, sought to rely on a breach of trust and confidence and reputational risk as grounds for dismissing a teacher who was charged (but not prosecuted) for possessing indecent images of children on a shared computer at home. The EAT found the dismissal to be unfair on two grounds, one of which was that the allegation of reputational risk had not been put to the employee properly. As a result, they had not received sufficient notice of it and therefore did not have the chance to address it at the disciplinary hearing.

While there are a number of lessons that can be learned from this case, the point that is particularly relevant to misconduct outside the workplace is that it is vital for employers to frame all the allegations against the employee properly at the outset of any disciplinary proceedings. This is because when alleged misconduct takes place outside the workplace, employers may not always be in a position to fully investigate the actual misconduct. It is therefore important to also explain and investigate any overlap between the alleged misconduct and the employee’s employment.

The presence of any connecting factors (such as reputational damage or using work systems for personal use) may be sufficient grounds in themselves to take disciplinary action or may be grounds for a dismissal on the basis of ‘some other substantial reason’ – even in cases where the employer is not in a position to fully investigate or make a finding on the misconduct itself. Therefore, it is usually best to put these ancillary allegations clearly and separately to the employee at the start, alongside the main allegations of misconduct. In doing so, employers can potentially avoid being put in the awkward position of being unable to take any action (despite harm being caused to the business) if the misconduct allegations themselves cannot be investigated properly or upheld. It also helps to protect the organization if the employee defends themselves by arguing that the employer is being unreasonable in taking into account their private life.


Discussed: the challenges ahead for businesss recovery

The Business Demystified survey*, highlights the challenges small businesses encountered in 2020 and the issues they predict they’ll face in 2021. The research collected data from 1,000 SME business decision-makers in the UK.

This article shines a light on the key findings from the research and what the future looks like for SMEs, according to the entrepreneurs that run it.

Although their ability to drive revenue was business leaders’ overall biggest foreseen challenge (38%), the mental health of their employees followed closely as one of the most pressing issues for 2021. Nearly a third (31%) stated that they were worried about their workers’ wellbeing. These concerns have increased due to remote working, redundancy fears and juggling work and parenting, which has affected many employees in the UK.

According to the research, mental health and wellbeing was the biggest foreseen challenge for many business leaders, but mostly for those working in the education, charity, and energy and utility sectors.

From the charity organizations that responded, nearly half (43%) listed mental health and wellbeing as the key challenge for 2021. This is unsurprising, as around a third (33%) of charities were forced to reduce their workforces, while 35% turned to government relief schemes, such as furlough, to prevent further financial losses.

As these industries deal with the impact that a lack of job security has on employees, other sectors have fears around the effect of overworking employees due to increased demand will have on their companies.

Nearly half (45%) of accountancy, banking, and finance sector clients predicted staff retention would be one of the biggest difficulties they would face during 2021.

On the other hand, the hospitality and events industry battled with lockdown restrictions, rendering them unable to operate for most of the last year. These businesses were therefore primarily concerned with the risk of closure.

As 2020 became the year of working from home, the biggest challenge perceived by businesses due to remote working was the IT infrastructure (16.5%). With more businesses reliant on technology to keep teams connected and ensure work continued to be delivered, the need for hardware and new software increased while working from home.

Following this challenge, the second biggest WFH concern for SMEs was people management (16%). In fact, accounting, banking and finance corporates was the sector most likely to experience issues with productivity and maintaining morale – and also the sector most concerned with staff retention. The two are very possibly linked.

Despite the challenges they’ve predicted, SMEs are looking to prepare better for 2021 and beyond. As employee mental health ranked highly for professionals who foresee it to be the biggest challenge this year, they are making it a priority to tackle this issue.

In a year where roles have been fulfilled in isolated situations, work-life balance has been left skewed and concerns about livelihood continue to plague many industries, it’s no surprise that business leaders are concerned.

Other predicted challenges for 2021 include:

Customer retention – 28%
Risk of closure – 26%
Staff retention – 24%
Employee development – 21%
Revenue forecasting – 21%
To deal with the implications of the pandemic, businesses looked at upskilling and seeking advice to ensure they were prepared for the continued challenges.

As a drop in revenue was one of the biggest hurdles faced by businesses, almost 41% of UK SMEs took part in government schemes to prepare for the impact. 37% even turned to the government in times of crisis, seeking advice from the different services available to help.

To diversify skillsets, almost 40% of business leaders planned to upskill in an area outside their original expertise. Accounting, banking and finance businesses (59%) along with IT (56%) were most likely to spend time refining their skills in external industry areas.

Business, consulting and management enterprises worked quickly and proactively to counter the challenges they faced as a result of the pandemic, with 41% expanding their services to continue generating revenue. This industry also remained the most optimistic about the year ahead.

Despite the challenges, they faced with staff retention concerns and employee productivity, the accountancy, banking, and finance industry (61%) also topped the list as most positive about 2021.


Four Cognitive Biases That Hijack Your Hiring Decisions And How To Fix Them

In 2015, a group of researchers from three universities came to together to study how job interviewers make decisions about candidates. What they discovered was sobering.

Their research found 60% of interviewers make their decision within the first 15 minutes. Twenty percent of interviewers make their decision within the first five minutes. The candidate has shared a third (or less) of who they are and what they can do, and their fate is already sealed.

We’ve all likely made the same mistake while hiring. A logical question is, if an interview lasts 45 minutes to an hour, what are we doing for the remainder of the interview? The unfortunate truth is, we use the remaining time looking for evidence to justify our initial decision. It’s no surprise then that research shows interviews only have a 50% chance of accurately identifying talent. Given the impact that societal biases (race, gender, etc.) have on our first impressions, it also isn’t surprising that diversity in hiring continues to suffer.


In my work researching and conducting highly effective interviewing I’ve found several factors at play and how to overcome them. One factor is that we don’t treat interview questions as independent events. You may remember the term “independent event” from a statistics class which you’ve long forgotten. Since few people have fond recollections of those courses, here is just enough to jog your memory without re-traumatizing you:

Is Your Organizational Culture Ready For A Post-2020 Workforce?
Interview questions should be independent events. Your assessment of the candidate’s answer to the first question asked should not impact your assessment of the second question you ask, nor should the second affect the third, and so on.

Unfortunately, we treat interview questions as dependent events, leading to the halo and horn effects. When a candidate bombs the first question, we mentally groan a little, “This is going to be a long hour.” As we ask the second question, we’re already slightly biased against the candidate. This is the horn effect. The reverse can also happen and a great first answer from the candidate creates a halo effect. We’re impressed, and we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on the next answer even if it isn’t as good. Either way, a trajectory takes hold and we come to a decision much sooner than we should.

Two more cognitive biases called anchoring and confirmation bias add to this dilemma. Psychologists have found that people’s final decisions tend to rely heavily (anchor) on the first piece of information they learn. Confirmation bias means we favor information that confirms our existing beliefs. This impacts how we gather, interpret, and recall information. As a result, during an interview, you anchor on early impressions and seek confirmation rather than continuing to learn more.

Hold & Reset

A great interview technique for countering these effects is called Hold & Reset. The technique allows for the conscious and consistent management of judgment that is the hallmark of great interviewers.

The hiring decision is supposed to happen after the interview. This sounds obvious but is not what usually happens. Instead, when a candidate walks into the room, you immediately begin forming an opinion. This may even start before the interview when you review their resume. We naturally gravitate toward some profiles over others. But at the interview stage, their resume shouldn’t be influencing your judgment of the candidate. It should influence the questions you ask, whose answers you’ll then judge.

So, the first step is actively recognizing that you are already judging before a word has been spoken, and then mentally putting yourself back to neutral. This practice of “holding” judgment continues with every single question. After each question, regardless of how well they answer, do not allow an opinion of the candidate to form. You must judge each answer as a standalone event—an independent event.

This isn’t as easy as it seems because it requires you to separate your current judgment of the individual answer from your final judgment of the candidate. Remember, each question is one data point out of many. You will use the answers collectively to assess the candidate. But during the interview you are simply collecting data in the moment to inform a later decision.

To accomplish this, you must constantly “reset.” After each question you will have an opinion on the quality of their answer. That is good and expected. But your assessment of the next question must remain independent of your assessment of the previous question. Resetting lets the candidate start with a clean slate for every question. This practice of resetting halts a trajectory that leads to premature decision-making. It fights against the halo and horn effects. It helps you avoid anchoring on any individual answer and stops you from confirming what you think you know.

Biases can easily hijack your decision-making process. They can control you—without you realizing it—and leave you wondering why you keep getting inconsistent results from your hiring process.

When you carefully examine what usually happens in our minds during an interview, you’ll start to see the flaws that lead to mis-hires. You can do far better than a 50% success rate for hiring talent. You can bring far more diversity into your organization. Achieving that means taking time to understand how your brain makes decisions and the impact of bias, and most importantly how to improve these decisions which have an outsized impact on the success of your organization.


Mandatory Covid jabs: yes or no?

Employee health and safety has been a top priority for businesses during the pandemic, but the rollout of the Covid vaccine has, as expected, divided opinion, with some people refusing it for various reasons, including medical conditions, religious beliefs, or just fear and uncertainty. And although the government has not mandated having the jab and is currently only considering doing so for care home workers, some employers have been hitting the headlines by making vaccinations compulsory for current and future employees, potentially landing themselves in legal hot water. With the debate still shrouded in uncertainty, People Management has considered the legalities (and moralities) of both sides.

Yes, jabs should be compulsory
The ‘no jab, no job’ policy, as it’s been dubbed, is most prevalent in the care sector, where the risk to elderly or ill patients from Covid is greater than other workplaces, and big industry names Care UK and Barchester Healthcare, among others, have recently announced their staff would be required to have the jab. The policy is being adopted far and wide – even the Vatican has clamped down on employees refusing the vaccine.

Undoubtedly, this hard line when it comes to inoculations has brought both moral and legal questions to the fore. But for those businesses with the best of intentions at their heart, what benefits does it bring, and are they potentially opening a can of legal worms?

Pimlico Plumbers was one of the first organisations to publicly state its intentions to mandate vaccines, and chief executive Charlie Mullins has been one of the most vocal spokespeople on the issue. For him, having the policy – which he plans to set in motion in two to three months’ time – is a “no brainer” for keeping his workforce and customer base safe. He argues that, without it, he could have issues with recruitment, retention and attendance in the future. “I would have more problems with my staff if I allowed people into work who hadn’t had the jab, and I certainly wouldn’t go into work with people who haven’t had it once the jab is available – why would I?” he tells People Management. “If it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for Pimlico Plumbers,” he says, adding that he didn’t expect the policy to be popular with his workers, but assures they are “delighted”.

When asked about the legalities of ‘no jab, no job’, Mullins says his lawyers have advised that the policy is covered under the Health and Safety Act. “The lawyers said we can do it [mandate vaccinations] in new and existing contracts, and they seem to think it can happen under health and safety law,” he explains, although caveats that with: “I’m sure there will be a few [legal] problems initially.”

And indeed, Mullins seems to be on the right track, at least regarding health and safety, says David Sheppard, employment lawyer at Capital Law. “Businesses have a duty of care under common law and health and safety legislation to ensure a safe working environment for employees, but also visitors and customers using their premises,” he explains, adding there are “clear potential benefits” to having a policy in terms of reputation and also commercially, as customers would likely have “more confidence to use those services”.

But when it comes to making exceptions for those who cannot have the vaccine, or concerns about discriminating against those who either cannot or choose to not have the jab, Mullins is clear. “People have their own views and opinions,” he says. “I’ve been told it’s discriminatory or that I’m a dictator, but I’m running a successful business and I want to make sure it continues. If someone doesn’t want to have the jab it is their choice, but they can’t come and work for Pimlico Plumbers.”

No, vaccines should be optional
The commercial and safety benefits of ‘no jab, no job’ policies are compelling, and as a result more businesses are seeking legal advice on the topic. This is the experience of Beverley Sunderland, managing director of Crossland Employment Solicitors, who has been contacted by “a lot” of clients wanting to put a vaccine policy in place.

However, because the vaccine, at time of going to press, is not yet available to those under 40 and not recommended for some groups, including those who are pregnant, Sunderland warns of the potential discrimination claims that could arise from putting a mandatory jab policy in place. “Immediately you are discriminating against young people and pregnant women,” she says.

She also points out that people who do not believe in immunisations are likely protected under the philosophical beliefs section of the Equality Act and potentially under the European Convention of Human Rights too. “Every business is going to have to look at what they are trying to protect and what they are trying to achieve, and consider each role on a case-by-case basis,” Sunderland says. When asked if there are any benefits to an organisation aside from care homes and hospitals introducing such a policy, she says there are none: “I think it makes them look authoritarian and like they haven’t thought it through.”

It is possible, then, that if businesses take a blanket approach to vaccines, they could land themselves in legal hot water. But what about the moral considerations? According to Claire Cross, HR director at Gattaca, these policies could exacerbate the ever-thinning line between work and personal lives during the pandemic. “Policies like this really blur the line between work and personal choice, and that is already blurred with the pandemic and remote working,” says Cross, adding that ultimately the notion of ‘no jab, no job’ “feels extreme” and wonders where businesses will draw the line.

This view is shared by Neil Morrison, group HR director at Severn Trent, who says while his organisation encourages employees to have the jab, it doesn’t believe in mandating it because of various “demographic discomforts” when it comes to inoculations. “We know, for example, that people from ethnic minorities sometimes have scepticism about vaccination programmes, partly to do with the [lack of] trust with the establishment in the UK, and people with underlying health conditions also have concerns about it,” explains Morrison. “We should be encouraging education and explanation rather than trying to compel people to have it.”

Asked whether the sudden trend of ‘no jab, no job’ could become a standard part of working practice, Morrison says it is unlikely. “We don’t have these kinds of policies around any other vaccination so it feels like the longer time goes on the less likely it will be to have any concerns [about the vaccine],” he says. “I’m not aware of an organisation that compels people to have the flu jab and, while Covid is more deadly, it doesn’t seem like that is an established practice. It’s unlikely that longer-term we would do that with the Covid vaccine.”

Source :https://www.peoplemanagement.co.uk/long-reads/articles/mandatory-covid-jabs-yes-no

How Performance Management Has Changed In 2021?

The year 2020 has been a roller-coaster ride for all due to the COVID19 pandemic. While we are almost in the fourth month of the year 2021, we are still unsure how the rest of the year will turn out to be. Remote working or hybrid working has become the new norm and is still likely to continue for some time. This new era of working has allowed employees to work flexibly, increase their productivity, put in extra effort, and work from anywhere while managing their personal lives. But it has also resulted in an increase in the number of employees reporting burnout, stress, and anxiety. As the way we work has changed, performance management also needs a more comprehensive approach. Here are some trends that are already shaping up and are here to stay.

When everyone shifted to working from home or remote working, it became difficult for organizations to manage their employee’s performance. So most companies shifted to cloud-based applications or tools from the traditional approach. In our recent survey to understand the impact of COVID on Performance Management and Employee Development, we found that performance management has gone virtual and more progressive. Here are some of the results from the survey:

Over 50 % of organization leaders reported that their employees were more frequently participating in check-ins, performance review assessments, and OKRs and Goal Management
64.8% of respondents reported increased frequency of engagement in ongoing check-ins with managers in the COVID Era
73.8% of respondents said that these changes would continue even post COVID, and 70% of them were satisfied with these changes
We also found that organizations are now focussing more on continuous performance management than a yearly or half-yearly review of performance.

In the survey mentioned above, we also found that people’s development has become on the job and based on real-time feedback. More and more organizations are focusing on sharing immediate or real-time feedback with their employees. When feedback is shared only during reviews or appraisals, it loses importance, and often employees fail to connect the dots. On the other hand, regular feedback helps employees know what they are doing right and what to improve on. It helps them reinforce the practices which will help the organization grow. It boosts their morale; motivation and satisfaction level. We can say that regular and continuous feedback has become an important part of performance management for the virtual workforce.

Also Read: A 7 Step Guide To A Successful 360 Degree Feedback Process
Skill Development and Mentoring are a big part of employee performance management in the virtual working environment. It is the right time for employees to upskill and cross-skill themselves. Frequent check-ins and feedback help managers understand their employees better. As a result, managers can identify their training and development needs easily. Give your employees access to online training academies such as Coursera, Udemy, edX, etc.

This is also the right time to start a mentoring program for your employees. Having a mentor in these uncertain times will be helpful for your employees. A mentor will help in the personal and professional development of your employee. Invest in mentoring software such as Mentoring Complete that uses their proprietary algorithm and a 3 step matching process to find the correct mentor-mentee match.

When an employee sees that the organization cares for their growth and development, they feel empowered, confident, and committed to their work. It results in a decrease in employee turnover and an increase in retention.

Goal Setting and Alignment have always been a crucial component of performance management. It helps employees stay focused, engaged, and stay motivated at all times. Traditionally companies planned their goals for the entire year or half-yearly. But the current volatile nature of business has forced organizations to set short-term goals. More and more organizations have started using the OKR methodology to set their SMART goals.

Successful organizations such as Google, Amazon, Disney, LinkedIn, etc., use OKRs or Objectives and Key Results to set their goals. OKRs consist of two components – Objectives: a clearly defined goal to be achieved, and Key Results: measurable steps to achieve the objectives. Each objective should have 3-5 key results. OKRs help employees to set and align individual goals to the organization’s goals. Additionally, OKRs help everyone identify measures of success, prioritize tasks, and set stretchable goals. They can be easily updated or discontinued as per changing business needs.