Paula Bradison headshot
Paula Bradison
Owner and Operator
Alaska Executive Search and
Bradison Management Group, LLC.
The Associated General Contractors of Alaska logo
Human Resources Update
Paula Bradison headshot
Paula Bradison
Owner and Operator
Alaska Executive Search and
Bradison Management Group, LLC.
The Associated General Contractors of Alaska logo
Human Resources Update
Using COVID-19 for Good
Take This Opportunity to Engage, Recommit, and Plan
By Paula Bradison

rofessionally and personally, 2020 has left its mark. Entering spring 2021, leadership continues to need business continuity planning and a more narrowed focus on well-being. No longer is there a separation between work and home life. We now experience both, at once, all day. This new professional environment has had some surprising results. According to Harvard Business Review, or HBR, the major tickers that affect the decline in workplace well-being are:

  1. Disengagement from work
  2. Lack of leadership support
  3. Job security concerns
  4. Existential concerns

Below are best practices and current research from The Society for Human Resource Management, or SHRM, Gallup, and HBR to empower leaders positively through uncertainty.

1. Know your team—intimately. Be partners.
Keeping professional lines clear is still important but communicating a concern for your employees’ well-being is a new requirement since it influences every aspect of your business performance. Compared with employees who are only physically fit, Gallup research shows that those who have high well-being across most or all five elements:

  • are 81% less likely to seek out a new employer
  • miss 41% less work because of poor health
  • are 43% more likely to volunteer
  • are 36% more likely to report full recovery after illness, injury, or hardship
  • are 27% less likely to have changed jobs in the last 12 months

Can/have you or your leadership answered these questions: How are we helping employees fight COVID-19 fatigue and find work-life balance? What about burnout prevention and correction? What are we doing to create or address a culture of well-being? Do we focus on the whole person when we engage/develop our team?

2. Build your talent engine—together. Engage your team.
A recent Gallup global study of 62,965 business units, published in the journal Human Performance, found that highly engaged teams were more resilient than their peers during the 2001-2002 and 2008-2009 recessions. Developing a culture of employee engagement can forge strong, resilient organizations and professional relationships.
“The unknowns vastly outnumber the knowns. And today’s materials—an organization’s labor supply, vendor resources, customer base, local COVID-19 rates, and even legislation—are changing by the hour.”
Vibhas Ratanjee, “A CEO’s Guide to Preparing for the Next Crisis,”
Gallup, October 8, 2020,
To build your engaged talent engine, you must make it a place where individuals know what is expected of them and feel empowered and supported through performance management—which Gallup found has changed dramatically within the last decade.

What about your performance tracking has changed or remained the same? How can your performance management become agile enough to navigate disruptions and future uncertainty? Are your managers prepared to successfully lead remote teams?

3. Commit to a shared vision.
Gallup analytics found that across all industries, 59% of employees cannot strongly agree to knowing “what their organization stands for.” The consequences of this disconnect are striking. Employees who know the mission or purpose of their organization feel like their work is important. Maintaining your team’s culture and establishing a clear communication plan will allow employees and customers to feel connected to your organization.

Start by communicating your mission and purpose to establish company values. Consult your identity and values for inspiration. Rely on your identity/values to guide the “why” behind decisions, communicating and underscoring why you made them. Allow your values to be the strong support everyone needs. This is a huge opportunity, as only 23% of U.S. employees feel that they can apply their organization’s values to their daily work.

4. Do not wait for crisis to come up with a crisis plan.
Update or create policies to reflect the new normal. New policies should not precede hearing the concerns or needs of your employees, rather, they should reflect the needs of your employees and business. Consider these topics:

  • Policies and procedure changes to encourage workplace safety—considering telecommuting, working remote, time-off, flexible schedules, etc.
  • New work environment affecting employee development and training—statuses, bonuses, hazard pay, and pay equity.
  • Communicate required employee notices as soon as possible—certain notices may be required to stay compliant.

Business continuity planning will set you apart from your competitors, will help you retain employees, and create opportunities in a changed workplace. Therefore, it is imperative to review and implement the valuable lessons learned here during this past year. When everything feels like it is out of control, it’s important to realize what we can control. The role of leadership hasn’t changed since the onset of COVID-19, it has just been underscored. If this pandemic taught us anything, it taught us how we can evolve and be calculated, rather than reactive, in our responses.

Paula Bradison is owner and operator of Alaska Executive Search and Bradison Management Group, LLC.