For perhaps the first time in history, the human population has been united around the world by a common threat at the same time: COVID-19. When uncertainty and fear levels are high, our human ability to trust is naturally put to the test. Now, more than ever, leaders must put people at the heart of the organization if they are to build the trust that is key to building true enterprise resilience.
According to American businessman and academic Bill George: “No matter how effective your strategy, your vision, or your communication, you will fail to achieve the desired result for your organization if you cannot inspire trust.” Combining an immediately actionable plan to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic with a longer-term reimagining of the future of work will prove critical in sustaining and re-building trust among customers, employees and communities.
While the impacts of COVID-19 on public trust are not yet fully known, it is clear that authorities and employers all over the world have a duty of care for their citizens and employees – and need to be proactive in preserving trust in order to remain strong throughout the pandemic.
- Adopt a “two gear” approach: creating a trusted transition plan to manage business continuity and mitigate disruption, while undertaking broader transformation efforts. With no clear blueprint for the road ahead, organizations are best served by envisioning how the pandemic will reshape their entire business. Working on an immediately actionable plan to act to mitigate disruption while developing broader plans to transform will create the most stable foundations for business to adapt and thrive.
- Protect, enable and support teams as they lead through crisis, establishing resources for safety and crisis management and keeping dialogue active. The nascent trends toward remote and flexible work arrangements have accelerated since January 2020. Surveys across the UK and US show that working from home has increased in the current environment up to sevenfold – but the migration to remote work hasn’t come without challenge. Feelings of disconnect and isolation have been commonly reported. Strong communication is vital. Business leaders need to communicate early and often – even when they don’t know all the answers.