Taking the Pulse of your Organisation: a first step to building resilient workforces during and post COVID-19

Over the past few months, I have been surprised by how many of our clients have displayed resilient and adaptive behaviours during the COVID crisis. Faced with an unprecedented situation, they worked quickly to establish new flexible ways of working and partnered with us to support their teams and managers doing this difficult time.

The crisis showed us that when we are up against it, we can do well and ride the storm. This is what I call a “reactive resilience”, one which is provoked by a crisis or immediate threat.

A proactive resilience for change

As we slowly come out of COVID, it is clear that there will not be a return to business as usual and that businesses which have been shaken must now prepare for an uncertain future. These shocks and this uncertainty are increasingly the new normal and for some businesses, their long-term sustainability will depend on new approaches that keep them agile and flexible. 

Reactive resilience to survive or bounce back is fine in the short-term but organisations will need to develop a “proactive resilience” that is founded on anticipation, preparedness and an awareness of what may come.

Most companies are talking about more flexible, agile environments that respond quickly and effectively to change. This may mean reviewing processes, systems and product ranges but it should also mean an investment in human capital and developing a workforce that is ready and able to cope with the change. 

Our work at PEPIT is all about strengthening and building resilient cultures and we understand that to stay competitive and even ahead of the curve, companies must now focus on the mindsets of their people and the capacities of their leaders to bring their teams through change.

Taking the Resilience Pulse

So, where do you start and how do you strengthen what is already in place? 

At PEPIT we believe that the key to building resilience and agility is to be able to measure it. After all, you cannot change what you cannot measure, and an internal audit is a good starting point. In our experience, too many HR leaders have invested in training programmes with mixed results and no way of measuring their impact. 

Audits will help leaders identify what is working well and what may be the root causes of any issues or barriers to change. Based on rigorous academic research and business experience, we have developed a tool that takes the “pulse” of a company’s workforce and enables HR to incorporate results into a strategy with targeted interventions. The Tool also helps HR to monitor ongoing progress, analyse the benefits of interventions and make any adjustments where necessary.

The Global Medical Devices company Medtronic are keen to strengthen the innovation and agility of their people. They have been taking the Resilience Pulse of their teams and leaders over the summer and for them this audit is about raising awareness as well as preparing for the future. As their Senior HR Manager explains:

“…PEPIT’s Resilience Pulse has come at the right time for us to look at how we build a culture that fosters innovation and change agility to achieve our short-term and long-term goals. The process has been easy to implement and I am certain that it will not only raise awareness of what is working and what needs more attention, but that it will also give us valuable recommendations to identify where we need to successful execute on our strategy for the future”.

The attributes of a resilient workforce

The Resilience Pulse assesses the attributes of a resilient and agile workforce. These include areas such as agile decision making, information and knowledge sharing, and the awareness of market trends and competitors’ businesses too.

Collaboration and communication, strong and supportive leadership and a healthy workforce are also part of the equation. HR leaders will also want to look at the mindsets of their people and whether they are comfortable and supported to go out of their comfort zones or their existing scope of responsibilities when needed.

In late 2017 and into early 2018, Gallup conducted stakeholder interviews with 80 U.S. and EU business leaders and managers about their experience of agility in their companiesThey found that only a minority of those organisations had the right mindset and processes for agility.

The good news is that with the right approach and strategy in place organisations can improve upon or develop a more resilient culture that will be prepared for the challenges ahead. With anticipation and awareness of what may be on the horizon, businesses can be sustainable. 

As Kathleen Sutcliffe, from the John Hopkins University sums up when looking at private and public organisations’ responses during COVID:

“Not just health care systems, but all kinds of significant organizations, need to operate through a mindset of anticipation and prevention, and of resilience. Efficiency isn’t the only virtue, especially the kind of efficiency that means cost-cutting. You also need resources devoted to anticipating and preventing crises.”

Would you like to strengthen the resilience of your organisation? If yes, contact us for an initial chat at nboudou@pepitconsulting.ch.


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