United Minds, Weber Shandwick’s management consultancy specialising in organisational transformation, announced a new Workforce Re-entry offering to help CCOs, CHROs, pandemic response leads and their teams re-set and re-integrate employees into the workplace as businesses recover from the impact of COVID-19.
Leaders face multi-dimensional and complex challenges as economies around the world re-open. In the UAE, where remote working was activated in March for all but essential employees, offices are now preparing for a gradual, scaled return while ensuring employee safety and well-being, meeting business performance expectations and protecting corporate reputation.
According to a recent report from KRC Research, while nearly 80 per cent of American employees are proud of their employers’ response to the outbreak and believe they are prioritising safety, only six per cent would trust their employers to determine when it is safe to bring them back to work. Further, 80 per cent of consumers would prefer to buy from companies who treated employees well through the outbreak – illustrating the connection between managing re-entry well and long-term business value.
“Employees are the number one stakeholder for companies today. Being treated with care as they return to the workplace is paramount, and, we believe, a predictor of near-term and long-term success,” said Kate Bullinger, president, United Minds.
Ziad Hasbani, Weber Shandwick’s regional CEO for the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey, agreed that a humanized approach is key. “There may be differences in the satisfaction and challenges that employees have experienced while away from a physical office environment, so compassion is crucial while rebuilding confidence and continued resilience.”
As curves begin to flatten and companies shift from responding to the initial threat of the COVID-19 crisis, they are preparing to gradually scale up operations. However, they face uncertainty on many levels: the lack of a vaccine or widespread immunity, evolving and conflicting local government and public health guidelines, as well as needs specific to their own employee population.
Workforce Re-entry provides customised re-entry planning for clients, leveraging expertise from within the Weber Shandwick ecosystem of brands as well as outside advisors to guide decision-making. It includes corporate reputation and crisis communications from Weber Shandwick, science-based communications strategy from Element Scientific Communications, employee engagement and organisational change from United Minds and public affairs counsel from Powell Tate. The specialty also includes external experts such as leading epidemiologists, physicians and thought leaders on resiliency, public policy and human resources.
Beyond planning, Workforce Re-entry provides end-to-end execution support throughout the re-entry process including leadership alignment, safety and well-being counsel, employee activism preparedness and workplace design. Additionally, United Minds offers a broader suite of COVID-related guidance, including remote working best practices, post-pandemic retrospective and reinvention road mapping, leader and workforce resilience and cultural vigilance.
“Re-entry provides employers an opportunity to accelerate progress and recommit to their core values and purpose. They should not be thinking about going back to work, but rather forward to work,” said Micho Spring, global chair, Corporate, Weber Shandwick.