Managing employee uncertainty during challenging times


Authored by RSM US LLP

It is safe to say that the recent COVID-19 global pandemic has led to workers feeling a high level of uncertainty due to the huge spike in layoffs and unemployment. There are several common concerns looming in both the employees and employers minds, but the top three are job security, income security and health security. Employees are asking themselves if they will still have a job once things are back to normal. They are wondering if their income will allow them to continue to meet current living expenses and prepare for retirement in the future. In addition, they are fearful that they or a family member may get sick from the virus and if this happens, they fear what may happen to their job and income. Employees want to feel secure and supported during this time and employers should take action to provide as much security as possible for their employees.  

In order to combat these uncertainties and make the employees feel at ease, employers are being creative and coming up with ways to address these concerns. One way in which they are doing this is reducing the executive compensation footprint in the organization. Reducing executive compensation ultimately reduces costs for the organization and provide income stability to the entire organization. This effort shows a sense of social responsibility by letting their employees know they are all one team and in it together, which leads to greater employee retention.  Following up to this, organizations are taking the time to educate their employee base on compensation programs by providing tools that will give them foundational knowledge of the organizations competitive position.

Another avenue employers are taking is an increased interest in reskilling and upskilling their workers. Based on a survey conducted by TalentLMS, Workable, and Training Journal, this has been beneficial to companies in that 84% of organizations surveyed stated it was beneficial to the overall goals of the organization, 74% of organizations stated it was beneficial to their reputation and 69% stated this effort was beneficial to employee retention.  According to a LinkedIn press release, “Organizations are leading with learning in this crisis” and their reports indicate that employees are spending 130% more time on learning and professional development during the pandemic.  LinkedIn also indicated that 56% of learning and development professionals say the culture of learning within their organization is stronger now than prior to the start of the global COVID-19 pandemic.  We have also seen executive sponsorship of learning and development programs increase; LinkedIn noted that 70% of CEO’s say they are an active champion of learning, compared to 27% pre COVID-19.  As organizations look to re-evaluate the remoteness of their workforce post COVID-19, as well as reskilling and upskilling their workers, this is the perfect opportunity for organizations to look for new Learning Management System (LMS) tools or approaches.  BusinessWire estimates that the corporate LMS market will grow by ~$13B during 2020-2024.

So what things should organizations be thinking about and considering when it comes to these efforts and incorporating them into their strategy. According to the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), questions they have to ask themselves is how has COVID-19 changed their strategic outlook over the next three to five years, what should the focus be and how should it be incorporate into the strategy. We know that employers are focusing on their employees more and providing them with additional tools to help them feel secure. Employers should tailor their efforts to the specific needs of both the employee and employer. On the minds of everyone is job security, income security and compensation and health security. Incorporating plans that will include reskilling and upskilling and assist the organization to reskill and upskill their employees is key in helping guide their employees through this pandemic and foster relationships that will provide an overall great employee experience.