As a new reality plays out in the world, building human resilience—the ability to adapt—has become a critical component of business continuity. Leaders everywhere are being called on to help their people build that resilience. From our workforce research, which spans more than 15,000 global workers in 10 countries and 15 industries, we have identified 10 actions that businesses can take now to lay the groundwork for tomorrow.

  1. Gather the troops. Develop a multidisciplinary C-suite “plan and act” centre. Gather feedback from all areas of the organization and all types of workers but, before you plan and act, be sure your leadership knows listening and responding to their people is just as important. Immediate actions include: setting and communicating key policies (travel, remote working, etc.) to guide near-term needs; and investing in programs to alleviate the physical and mental impacts on people.
  2. Relieve people of unnecessary work and activities. At a time when people are worried about their basic needs and their pay checks, focusing resources on what will best help the company and its people weather this crisis just makes sense. Key actions include being clear that you are removing friction deliberately and, for essential priorities, teaming people up based on skill, rather than function—this is a chance for digital natives to take the lead in remote working initiatives.
  3. Responsible leadership is an incomparable formula. Use it. Educate and coach leaders on the five elements: stakeholder inclusion, emotion and intuition, mission and purpose, technology and innovation, and intellect and insight.
  4. Hierarchy be damned. If you aren’t used to working in cross-functional, agile teams, now is the time to begin. You don’t get to outcomes via functional silos.
  5. Elevate your most visible leaders based on compassion and caring. Workers will remember the faces and voices you empower to lead the charge during this time. Be sure those voices are not only wise, but compassionate and caring. Key actions include selecting your most compassionate, caring executives to lead the charge, and changing the daily tone—e.g., start every call with a human moment.
  6. Integrate your company’s purpose and values into every communication and initiative. Shared purpose and values is what will give employees the sense of belonging they need right now. As quarantines and social distancing play out, employees need a sense of connection to one another and to their work.
  7. Tell a story. Don’t spew data. People are wired to find meaning and respond best to stories and analogies during times of great stress and ambiguity. Human beings want the larger story, the insights, to make meaningful connections.
  8. Rally leaders around consistent communication. Establish strong communication governance, guiding principles and tone. Leaders throughout the organization need to be in sync. If you don’t have an up-to-date crisis communication plan that includes clear direction for all stakeholders, now’s the time to get one.
  9. You were always going to need remote workforce capabilities for at least a portion of your workforce. Now’s the time. Crisis is never the best time to set up new ways of doing things, but this pandemic gives many companies no choice. Pre-pandemic, our Accenture workforce research showed less than one-third of all workers were able to make full use of their technology to effectively do their job. Now is the time to accelerate human + machine collaboration and support people as they transition to digital ways of working.
  10. Don’t allow the crisis of the Now stop you from moving toward the Next. Reserve two hours per day for work focused on getting your organization and your workforce to the future. It’ll feel like you’re ignoring the urgent, but two hours, wisely spent, will help move your organization beyond the urgent and prepare for the future.

I hope you have found these insights useful. Look out for more posts from me on talent and organization strategies in this time of change. There are ways to turn massive challenges into meaningful change. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile, for more on this topic, click through to Human Resilience—What your People Need Now.

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