As we enter post lockdown life across Australia, we may wish to forget this period of disruption caused by COVID-19. But there is much to learn as we reflect on our shared experience. We must create something better, focused on the wellbeing of our people, that can accelerate the country’s recovery, writes Nick Pesch, CEO Australia & New Zealand at Randstad Australia.
Yet, the transition back to work presents as many challenges as the lockdown which preceded it. Many employees now feel nervous about coming back into a shared workplace, supply chains are disrupted and the economy is in a downturn. Clearly, the gradual return to work is a no easy task and will require the cooperation of many workplace groups. Employees, government, labour organisations and employers, we all need to pull together if we are to succeed.
This week Randstad has joined an alliance with Adecco Group and Manpower Group. Together, we will be sharing the best practices in health and safety across industries for returning to work. We’re asking others to join us to share their experiences.
So what have I experienced? Resilience and the ability to adapt. I have been extremely proud of the team at Randstad. In difficult circumstances, they were able to prove their abilities to keep delivering. Managers had to adapt fast to keep our people safe, our support teams turned around remote working in 24 hours to ensure business continuity and our Randstad Recruitment Consultants continued to deliver exceptional service to their clients and candidates, from home. We even recorded an uptick in staff engagement in our monthly people survey.
Working remotely has taught employees skills, like using different ways to communicate and the ability to connect virtually. During this time, people learnt to be flexible, as their role and responsibilities changed or resources weren’t easily available.
I’m sure other leaders have witnessed their own people rise to the challenge.
These experiences will impact how all our workplaces function in the future and present. For example, already some companies like Twitter have said any employee who wishes can continue to work from home indefinitely. This is part of what is being called our “new normal”.
A key learning that extends beyond our working lives is the importance of human connection. At Randstad, we call this being Human Forward. Many of the most liked posts on our internal social media platform have been on the joy of very human moments. Like those sharing a Masterchef style meal, virtual runs across Australia and parents sharing a comical moment with their little ones.
As we open the doors to our workplaces, we need to remember the importance of human connection and consider its value in our “new normal”.
I’m sure that you, like I, have been working on how we deliver best practice hygiene, social distancing, and tracing support for our people. The government is proposing a staggered return to work, meaning workplaces functioning on 50/50 office splits, where only half their workforce is in the office on alternating days and work the rest of the time remotely. Managers will find it challenging and require clear communication and leadership to help them navigate through this transition.
So, given the sense of urgency we all feel, the alliance’s aim is to gather and share best practice health and safety learnings. These will then be shared across the industries and with the rest of the world as Australia spearheads a return to work. It is critical that we provide clarity in our approach to accelerate business recovery, but also keep COVID-19 at bay.
Stay safe and look after each other.
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