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Workforce Strategy During A Crisis: Align Interests, Whenever Possible

This article is the 2nd in a series of posts we will share about the support we have provided to our clients as they respond to the challenges presented by the coronavirus. After all, workforce management continues to be the key to your company’s success, and how you respond to this crisis can build your reputation and encourage ongoing loyalty from your employees and your customers or clients.

“My tagline from Day One has been: How you treat your employees over the next few months will determine how your employees treat you over the next five years,” said Devon Di Ciaula, a senior HR consultant with SymmetryHRO.

Devon has been working with our clients to explore the various options available to them with respect to maintaining, restructuring, and responding to their workforce. One client Devon worked with, a company with approximately 100 employees, needed to adjust its payroll budget by 30 percent given the financial impact of COVID-19.

“Their initial response was: We need to lay off 30 workers,” said Devon. “But I encouraged them to be creative. We looked at opportunities for them to tier salary reductions or consider reduction in hours for employees who could apply for unemployment compensation, with the goal of keeping all of their employees on payroll so the company did not have to recruit new individuals once restrictions were lifted and business improved.”

The company made the right move, not just for itself, but also for its workforce. Another of Devon’s clients had a similar first-response. Because they were not aware of options in terms of state and federal unemployment, as well as employer tax credits for payroll, sick leave, and family leave, the organization was not exploring the best options for reducing its overhead while still protecting its employees.

Devon walked through the various options with this non-profit organization. With a better understanding of its options, the organization found that it had enough resources to maintain its full workforce.

Our advice is this: While it is not always possible to protect your own bottom line and your workforce’s interests, look for creative opportunities to align your interests. COVID-19 has created an opportunity for employers to create a more effective and efficient workforce,” said Devon. “When an organization considers not just the financial well-being of the company, but also that of its employees—and when the company is transparent with its workforce about what they can and cannot do—that resonates strongly. Employees feel respected and valued, which will translate into the loyal workforce an organization needs on the other side of this.”

"My clients are trying to do the right thing with their employees, and people will remember that,” said Devon.

In Eric Swenson’s book, The Five A’s of Great Employees, he identified “alignment” as the fifth attribute of great employees. It’s also an attribute of great employers. Remember, no one will ever care as much about your company as you, but when you work to align everyone’s interests, you will go a long way in building a cohesive culture whereby everyone looks out for the interests of the unit.



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