Returning to Work: 8 Key Strategies for Businesses to Prepare for and Support Employees

The COVID-19 crisis has confronted leaders, managers and businesses with one of the biggest challenges ever encountered in protecting the physical and mental health of employees along with a severe impact on business operation and productivity.

Many people and businesses have learnt to adapt to discovering and implementing new, effective and creative ways of keeping things going.

Adapting to WFH has brought both difficult demands, as well as huge opportunities for different ways of working and doing business.

Through this crisis we have not only witnessed the adverse impact on our physical, social, financial and professional status and wellbeing, we have also seen how hugely detrimental this has been to people’s mental health.

Millions of us have had to make major adjustments to personal loss, isolation, restriction of movement/travel, social distancing, job insecurity and unemployment, as well as combining work with home life. All of which have contributed to high levels of stress, fear, anxiety and uncertainty, along with increased mental health problems.

Learn more: Getting us through the crisis: 10 ways to build mental resilience

Returning to Work – the Next Big Challenge

With the recent decision of a gradual return to work, employees and businesses are faced with a major new challenge.

How can they prepare for and support a safe and effective return to work?

Sustainable strategies, to address this issue, require recognition of a number of factors.

Understanding and responding adequately to stakeholder expectations, safety requirements for physical and mental health, as well as addressing the psychological impact of this crisis are crucial in supporting employees to re-enter and to confidentially engage in their work.

A significant starting point is the acceptance that a return to work, for many people, will not be business as usual and that working practices will need to change.

It is also important to be aware that individuals react very differently to challenging events, so it can be useful for leaders and managers to be prepared for a range of different responses.


How to Prepare for and Support Employees Returning to Work: 8 Key Strategies

1. Acknowledge Employee Needs & the Impact of the Crisis

Leaders and Managers can greatly benefit from an awareness and understanding of the psychological and emotional consequences of the present crisis. A clear acknowledgement of the situation, its impact and the continuing risks express both the recognised responsibility and enlist joint cooperation.

2. Check-In & Offer Emotional Support

Leaders and managers should also take time to check in on employees and find out how they are doing.

Empathy is an important part of how to express a genuine understanding and interest in the experience and welfare of others.

Listening and acknowledging how the situation could be impacting people and offering appropriate support services, helps decrease fear and promotes a sense of security.

3. Ensure You Have Open & Continuous Communication

One of the most helpful and essential processes, particularly, when dealing with crisis situations, is providing employees with relevant information on their work, as well as the business status, ensuring to keep people regularly updated.

In seeking to reassure and reduce anxiety and uncertainty, employers can support by providing a clear explanation of work changes and expectations, along with details on how the situation is being managed.

In responding to the Covid-19 crisis, it is particularly important to clearly communicate the health and safety measures, which have been put in place to protect the welfare of all employees.

People need to have confidence that someone is taking responsibility and that action is being taken to address the situation in the best way possible.

4. Understand Expectations & Remain Flexible

Whatever the expectation there is a need to listen, acknowledge and wherever possible try to accommodate reasonable expectations.

Respectfully expressing what clearly can be done rather than what cannot be done for unmeetable expectations.

Being flexible and making reasonable work adjustment is vital to being supportive, as well as gaining optimal engagement and productivity.

Businesses should consider the possibility of flexible conditions related to work hours, working from home, employee roles and tasks, time off, an adaptation of working practices and provision of any necessary resources.

5. Review & Establish Your Business Processes

Businesses should ensure that comprehensive and up-to-date policies and procedures are established, which specify clearly defined regulations and resolution strategies.

Enabling businesses to perform at optimal level involves having people and operating systems, which possess adaptable and flexible reactions with a problem-solving approach. Employees are then fully informed and can function within an effective structure with clear guidance.

6. Match Present Demands & Needs with Appropriate Responses

Businesses and employees greatly benefit from being supported and cared for through the guidance and resources they are given.

Following any crisis, businesses should be committed to getting things back on track, as safely and quickly as possible.

Identifying the present demands and needs of employees and responding in a direct and practical manner actively supports this process. This also contributes to building a strong and positive company culture, in which employees are more able to trust and feel safer.

7. Navigate a New Course

If businesses are to maintain direction and respond successfully to the needs of employees and the demands of the situation, then openness to different ways of doing things is an absolute necessity.

Progress can be held back by insisting on sticking to a particular course and not adapting to working practices.

Recognising when something is no longer necessary or fit for purpose and altering direction, serves to constructively optimise an employees’ return to work.

Leaders and managers can develop and implement changes through lessons learnt, good practice, continuous feedback and clear complaints and corrective measures process.

8. Connect & Utilise External Professional Services

Following a crisis, people can often feel fearful or apprehensive about returning to work.

Businesses can then benefit from investing in support services, as well as collaborating and building new partnerships.

Working together with relevant professionals and organisations can aid innovation, a greater sense of safety, better engagement, increased productivity, as well as the creation of strong and effective support structures. Most importantly this can promote the positive health and wellbeing of leadership and employees.

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How to Scale your Business with these 6 Strategies

If you are an entrepreneur looking to scale your business, this article will provide you with 6 scaling strategies.

But before we talk about scaling, let’s establish the difference between growth and scale.


Growth vs scale

Growth means adding resources at the same rate that you’re adding revenue.

Scale is about adding revenue at a rapid rate while adding resources at an incremental rate.

Scaling growth is about creating business models and designing your organization in a way that easily scales in order to generate consistent revenue growth and avoid stall-points without adding a ton of extra cost and/or resources along the way.


Here are 6 strategies to scale your business

1. Focus on Renewals

[bctt tweet=”Depending on your business model, renewals are a smart way to scale your business.” username=”brand_minds”]

It’s the low hanging fruit wisdom: why struggle to acquire new customers when you can generate revenue from the people who already know your brand and use your product? Latest statistics say it’s five times less expensive to keep an existing customer than to attract a new one.

To boost your renewals and improve your retention rates:

  • Look at your subscribers from a long-term relationship view;
  • Adopt a customer-centric strategy and customer success;
  • Build your company values with your customers at heart.

How can you use email to boost renewals?

Here are 4 tips via pure360.com:

1. Start early

Don’t wait until the last minute to send your renewal email to your subscribers! It’s best if you start eight months before the due date. This gives you plenty of time to do some customer inquiry and request feedback:

Are your customers happy with your product?

Do they have complaints that you need to solve?

Most importantly it gives you time to warm them up before you ask them to pay again.

2. Create a drip campaign

Change your approach: turn renewals into an important business objective.

Instead of writing one email, create a drip campaign:

  • Write the copy of your email as carefully as any other piece of content;
  • Emphasize the benefits of renewal;
  • Incentivize your subscribers and use Cialdini’s 6 Principles of Influence.

Robert Cialdini is speaking at BRAND MINDS 2019 

[bctt tweet=”Use email drip campaigns to boost your renewals.” username=”brand_minds”]

3. Extend deadline

Extend your subscription’s renewal. If your subscribers didn’t renew their subscription, find out the reason. If it’s a money problem, offer them a lower package; if it’s your product, find out what are their complaints and solve them.

4. Turn your renewals into brand ambassadors

Once your subscribers renew their subscription, give them a celebratory card or incentivize them to recommend your product to their friends.

[bctt tweet=”Brand scaling is driven by customers, not by businesses, large or small.” username=”brand_minds”]

2. Focus on users, not buyers

Harvard Business Review has recently conducted an online survey of more than 5,000 U.S. consumers and asked them about 50 different brands, both digital and traditional. The respondents were asked them about their perception, usage, preference, and advocacy for the brands.

Analysing the brands, the researchers observed two distinct directions:

  • Traditional brands focus on positioning themselves in the minds of their customers, engaging them as buyers;
  • Digital brands focus on positioning themselves in the lives of their customers, engaging them more as users than as buyers, shifting their investments from pre-purchase promotion and sales to post-purchase renewal and advocacy.

Here are the main findings of the survey:

  • Purchase brands focus on creating demand to buy the product, while usage brands focus on creating demand for the use of the product;
  • Purchase brands emphasize promotion; usage brands emphasize advocacy;
  • Purchase brands worry about what they say to customers; usage brands worry about what customers say to each other;
  • Purchase brands try to shape what people think about the brand along the path to purchase; usage brands influence how people experience the brand at every touchpoint;
  • Usage brands think of customers less as one-time buyers and more as users or members with an ongoing relationship;
  • Survey respondents showed more loyalty to usage brands and had stronger advocacy in the form of spontaneous recommendations to others;
  • Survey respondents showed a higher preference for usage brands over competitors, not just in making the purchase but in a willingness to pay a premium in price: they were willing to pay a 7% premium, were 8% less likely to switch, and were 2x as likely to make a spontaneous recommendation of the brand.

3. Focus on developing your product

Developing a great product leads to growth and scaling for your business.

So look at your product as an ongoing process of improving, testing, developing etc.

[bctt tweet=”Spotify’s main reason of success relies on its disruptive product.” username=”brand_minds”]

Spotify’s Unique Value Proposition was to give users complete control and access to any song, on demand, for just $10/month, along with a free option that offered more than simple radio-style streaming—not to mention the fact that it was totally legal. It was an instant success because it filled a market gap.

Learn more: 3 Growth Hacks Spotify uses in Brand Strategy

4. Test and learn quickly

Don’t be afraid to submit your product to continuous testing, evaluate your results and improve your product accordingly – apply the 10,000-experiment rule to develop your product.

Giant tech companies have been developing fast and the driving force behind their achievements is the scientific method of experimentation. Google and P&G run 7000 experiments a year, Amazon – 2000 and Facebook – more than 100,000! (source: fastcompany.com).

[bctt tweet=”Apply the 10,000-experiment rule to develop your product.” username=”brand_minds”]

Canva’s management postponed the launch of its graphic design platform to the public until they had a great product. Through testing with their core subscribers they learned that their product had to perform a very important task which was not technical – empower their users, help them overcome their belief that they were not graphic designers therefore they didn’t have the skills and abilities to design.

Learn more: How Canva acquired 10 million users within 5 years

5. If possible, take advantage of social media platforms

Spotify used the power of social media platforms to scale their business.

In 2016, Spotify integrated with Facebook Messenger allowing people to share their Spotify songs or playlists directly within a chat box. Because each track, album and playlist have a unique URL, Spotify is sharing-friendly. This integration accelerated Spotify’s growth through referral traffic. Ultimately, millions of Facebook users also became advocates of the music platform because it filled the users’ desire to share their music socially.

6. Leverage Influencer Advocacy

Guy Kawasaki learned about Canva through one member of his social media team who was using Canva to create graphics for his posts. When the people at Canva noticed Guy’s social media graphics were designed with their tools, they contacted him and so he became Chief Evangelist of Canva. The reason Guy was attracted to Canva was that it “could democratise design just as Apple democratised computers and Google democratised information”.

Guy Kawasaki coming to Canva and supporting it helped the online design platform double its users’ numbers.

Wrapping Up

To scale your business implement these 6 strategies:

  1. Focus on renewals;
  2. Focus on users, not buyers;
  3. Focus on developing your product;
  4. Test and learn quickly;
  5. If possible, take advantage of social media platforms;
  6. Leverage Influencer Advocacy.

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