Let’s start off with the understanding that some working environments are more equal than others.
If you come from an environment that has been actively using world class ERP software, you are familiar with seamless, online work, paperless transactions and self-service options, which means it should be safe to assume that in your working environment, electronic communications have been part of your culture to date, and, remote working is not a great transformation. You are amongst the technologically evolved and nothing discussed here will interest you. But, if you are from a more traditional environment where technology has up to now been limited to that occasional emailed staff announcement, then there are so many changes, both obvious and inferred, that you have to cater for in the new working reality.
Nobody is saying COVID-19 will be here forever and ever, but the lesson that will be here forever is the importance of organisational agility, that no matter how big or small your operation is, regardless of your industry and sector, you must always be poised to respond to change. Another lesson that is clearer to some more than others is that, employee experience is a critical factor in how well the organisation recovers and begins to thrive in a new normal.
As the employer, or at least, as the HR partner, did you for instance create a rallying point that staff could look to for support and factual information about what is going on and what to expect? Or did you leave staff feeling like you were also scrambling and unsure of the way forward? Did your team have to hear about everything through external media or did you create your own information hub about pertinent issues like salary cuts (if applicable), leave freeze (or not), job security, safety in the workplace, remote working options, and so on?
Perhaps, for future use, it would be useful for the organisation to create a crisis response facility of some sort through which staff would receive the kind of information and direction they need. Have a crisis response policy that defines the authority and identity of the members of the crisis response facility, how they communicate and various other relevant guidelines. If you have ever been in a situation where the leader appears to be as panic-stricken as the subordinate, you will understand how reassuring it is to be in an environment where,
To the point of agility, one of the most useful ways to increase the chance of continuity in the face of change is technology. And there are still too many organisations that are simply not having this conversation.
For illustration, how many schools had the capacity to migrate lessons online during the lockdown? How many parents had the devices and the techno-savvy to support their children through online learning? In the same way, how many organisations are able to deliver uninterrupted regardless of upheaval in the physical environment?
But, what is technology from our HR perspective? Yes we do have our own industry specific platforms, but beyond these, an organisation-wide ERP is a powerful tool to have.
Yet many don’t have one in place. No budgetary provision to identify and install a suitable package. Therefore, the unmitigated risk of disruption in the event of ‘unforeseen circumstances’. What is ERP and what is it used for? Disclaimer right here. I am not an IT person and my understanding of it is very limited, so this definition is an approximation.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is the integrated management of main business processes, often in real time and mediated by software and technology. It facilitates information flow between all business functions and manages connections to outside stakeholders.
Where we have ERP, and we have all been trained on how it works, migration to remote working becomes that much easier. And the stress and anxiety of ‘oh my whole world is upended’ is reduced dramatically, if not eliminated.
Let us make friends with technology. Let’s get some kind of ERP that serves our purposes as an organisation.
Let’s get all our staff on it, even those who don’t have a workstation, let’s include them, so that, when messages have to go out, the whole team can receive the same communication. Nobody gets left behind. It makes for a positive employee experience, don’t you think? Have a good week.
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