Addressing communication challenges about reopening your business

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As we work our way through the continuing months of the coronavirus lockdowns, some counties and states have begun their phased reopenings, while others wait for more data and testing capabilities. Local, state and federal governments are tasked with making decisions that will have profound consequences for their citizens for the next decades.

Leadership teams are feeling a sense of urgency to make decisions in the spirit of getting back to work, and the decisions made now will shape the future of their companies. Some employers have already announced a move toward remote work for the indefinite future, including Twitter, Square and Facebook. Others have started to slowly open up their locations with new safety measures in place.

These pivotal decisions are tied to an already complex web of issues related to liability and safety, employee needs and preferences, and capabilities, that are now amplified by coronavirus.

Whether company leaders are planning a return to work late this year, or thinking about transitioning to a remote culture forever, they shouldn't make this decision without better data on what employees really want and need.

Every HR leader should be thinking about how to get this information from employees. What are their needs? What are their preferences? Are they afraid to come back into an office? Are there certain processes and systems that would need to be in place to do so? Are they itching to come back to the office soon?

Unfortunately, there’s not always a great way to capture that information. Employees now more than ever are afraid to speak up in the workplace, in part because of the challenging job market we suddenly find ourselves in. In fact, Americans’ fear of losing their jobs is currently at a 45 year high, according to Gallup.

Because of the physical realities of our current state it’s hard to have confidential or personal conversations with employees, because they aren’t in the same space as you and aren’t able to develop that trust that is so important to having hard conversations.

If employees aren’t speaking up, and leadership implements a return-to-work plan or a permanent remote plan that doesn’t work for its employees, it runs the risk of losing some of its most critical team members – and with it, institutional knowledge that is desperately needed for companies to get back on track and even thrive in this climate.

But there is a solution. Companies must take advantage of some of the tools out in the market to understand how employees are feeling, what they need, and how they feel about whatever transition the company is planning: whether it’s remote work, returning to the office, or a hybrid approach.

AllVoices, is working with experts and leaders in the HR and People space to support teams through this time. Our tool provides a modern whistleblower solution as well as diversity, equity and inclusion, culture, and feedback modules, and is helping our customers make these hard decisions leveraging input and data from their employees.

HR teams are now tasked with building strategies for return to work on top of all of their other responsibilities, and enabling employees to speak up about these topics can sometimes be pushed to the back burner. But as things shift, offices open up, or remote work becomes more permanent, HR needs a seamless way to hear from employees in real time so they can proactively adjust to these changes and determine their employees’ needs.

HR leaders are most excited about our platform’s always-on listening tool, which protects employees’ identities while providing an encrypted communication channel. This enables HR leaders to confidentially provide support, learn more about the employee’s issue, and share policies and information. While engagement surveys are a fantastic way to get a pulse on a point in time, many HR leaders are frustrated by the inability to follow up on certain feedback from employees.

Our customers have been having these conversations with their employees about safety in the workplace, layoffs and other job-security related questions, and challenges with remote work. In fact, one of the top reasons people say they use AllVoices is that they don’t want to have these conversations in person – or in fact, are physically unable to.

Without an office, employees can’t come talk to leadership as easily, and HR and People teams are not able to have casual conversations that give them a pulse on the overall culture.

Even with employees back in the office, due to the job market, employees might not be honest about their fears and concerns about the virus – until it’s too late. By taking proactive steps to make employees heard and help them speak up in real time about serious issues,companies can create cultures filled with trust, respect, and gratitude.

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