As the pandemic continues to develop and the road to recovery is expected to be a long one, business leaders and professionals must adapt and be agile to the challenges that are presented to them on a daily basis, with valuable lessons to be learned along the way, said Simon Lance, Managing Director for Hays Greater China recently.
According to him, there are four key priorities that business leaders can consider going forward.
Employee wellbeing is paramount. When it comes to strategic priorities, Lance pointed out that one of the biggest challenges businesses are facing at this time is retaining talent in a difficult market and helping them cope with what is undoubtedly a stressful and unsettling period in their own careers.
“My advice would be to really point all of your energies on taking care of the best talent that you have in the organisation, engaging them, considering their own wellness and mental health and general stress levels, and just making sure that they see a secure, confident future ahead with the company,” he said.
Learn from other regions. With China being the first country in the world to go into the crisis and come out of it, Lance advised businesses to learn from their international colleagues and take the opportunity to be better prepared for any further disruption as well as recovery.
“It’s really going to vary considerably between location and industry sector, but having a return to work plan that is based on learns from colleagues or other businesses around the world is really important,” he noted. “I’d be looking at different business models and different industry sectors and just trying to tease out what has become best practice at each progressive stage of disruption and recovery around the world.”
Communication is key. Once businesses have a plan in place, the next critical step is ensuring these plans are cascaded effectively by getting full engagement across leadership teams and general staff, Lance pointed out.
“For CEOs or business leaders, the need to be much more visible and talking to their general staff more frequently about what is going on (in the organisation and in the world), is really important,” he said. “Having that clear, frequent and open communication from the executive down to general staff has also been a real key learn for me.”
Digital disruption is here to stay. Continued digital disruption and the proliferation of remote working in the wake of the pandemic is highly likely, if not a certainty, Lance observed.
“The world of work has moved well beyond the completion of tasks or general workspace tasks that can now all be done remotely,” he said. “This shift is creating some positive discussions here in China about what the overall purpose is for a physical working space and leading to some more interesting theories around innovation or collaboration, team culture and emotional support.”
Take it a little bit slow
Lance advised leaders to take it “a little bit slow”.
“In doing so, you give yourself and your teams a little bit of time to understand what the market really is,” he said.
It’s highly unlikely that the return to full working mode will be smooth for any country, he pointed out, adding that here will be risks and opportunities that I think people should be prepared to discover first and then make the most of them.
“My advice based on our own experience here and the organisations that I deal with in China has been to really empower and take care of your key people,” Lance said.