On Wednesday 15 April, Wamda hosted an online webinar, 'Navigating Covid-19: Managing people and talent,’ featuring Nathalie Spree, partern at executive search company, True.
Spree has more than 11 years' experience in building teams, especially at startup-phase, leadership recruiting and addressing the challenges that companies face in all things related to people, talent and operations.
In the webinar, Spree shared her views on the impact Covid-19 continues to have on businesses and the best way to approach talent management during these times.
Maintaining the human side of the business
Keeping employees engaged and connected while working remotely is imperative for business productivity, says Spree, suggesting that employees can meet up online over virtual coffee meetings, cooking demonstrations or meditation sessions.
“Reach out to someone from a different department as if you were walking past their office or you would pass each other at the coffee machine.”
When transitioning to remote work, employers have to bear in mind that people have different situations at home and some people work better at certain times, says Spree.
“People are expected to be responsive, but it should be understandable that there are times when you perhaps are not.”
She further emphasises that it is common that employees might face burnout during the trying times, stressing that people still can receive their sick leave whether or not they have Covid-19.
On the managerial side, Spree recommends that employers allocate an hour or two hours per week so people can ask questions that they have, whether it is work related or they just want to engage with the founder.
“Managers should treat everyone as an individual as well and regularly give timely, consistent feedback as you might be doing when you were in an office environment as well."
However, excessive checkups on employees might signify the management’s total lack of trust in employees.
“They might feel that they are being checked up on a little too much. This might cause some negativity,” warns Spree.
Corporate brand re-defined
The way managers treat their employees in these times is going to leave a permanent mark on the companies’ brand image, says Spree.
“When a company resorts to layoffs as a result of Covid-19 caused panic, it gives a negative view for both potential employees and customers alike."
She further adds that when this crisis is over, it might consequently be hard for them to be attracting talent especially that a lot of people will probably be hiring at the same time.
In the event of a layoff, managers should have conversations with employees explaining the position of the company. She further explains that if an employer decides to release people, the company is still obliged to pay all of their allowances and keep their health insurance open until they find another job or return to their home countries.
She praised the idea of opening up a virtual labour market in the UAE, a step recently taken by the Ministry of Human Resources and Emiratisation to help people affected work-wise by the Covid-19 crisis.
Weighing on the right talent
Businesses benefitting from the current lockdown, including e-commerce, healthtech, edtech among others have been reporting intensive waves of hiring to keep up with the mounting customer demand. Still, recruiting the right talent in the right place constitutes a challenge for these businesses. In similar situations, according to Spree, businesses are becoming more product-oriented. Accordingly, there has been a surge in chief product officer (CPO) and chief technology officer (CTO) roles currently across the Middle East, particularly in Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
As companies start to revisit their business plans in light of the current situation, companies need to look at their talent structure and the way they approach it. Since some industries are going to bounce back a lot quicker than others, it is very important to keep looking at your talent structure to see if you can be leaner in some areas for the time being, suggests Spree, adding that filling up the critical roles of the business with the right talent is going to impact the companies in the long run as they come out on a big offensive.