How can companies engage with their employees in short-time working?

How can companies engage with their employees in short-time working?

With the exceptional measures of the government, the French have to respect quarantine rules since the last 17th of March. It means that millions of workers are at home, in remote working conditions, or for the least fortunate, in short-time working. Thus, a decrease of the activity is real and companies have to face this crisis and prepare their workforce to the resumption of activity. At the end of the quarantine period, companies will have to be more effective than ever in order to overcome the lack of revenue of these last week.

Several essential questions are then arising : how to prepare its remote and economically inactive employees ? Which impact will short-time working have on employees and their performance? And how can companies prepare their employees to go back to work in a normal way?

The heavy economic impact of COVID-19

With a confined population, many companies such as shops, factories and services companies had to stop their activity temporarily. For many of it, they had to put half of their employees in short-time working. 


The COVID-19 crisis led to a radical drop in sales

With this health crisis, all sectors are affected. The fashion industry is particularly representative. A large part of its profit is made on site. Loom, a recycled clothing company, decided to stop off its activity and to put all its employees in short-time working. Complicated consequences are about to come. Burberry has suffered a 30-40% revenue decrease in China. It forecasts the same scenario for its French activity. Inditex Group, then worldwide leader of the fashion industry, predicts a 24% drop of its sales. Both small businesses and large companies are hit by the coronavirus situation. A large number of firms has even stopped activity forecast.


The COVID-19 crisis led to an increasing stock

A weighty stock of merchandise (clothes, beauty products, food…) is accumulating and managers have to find solutions for stock disposal. In the meanwhile, maintaining profit and avoiding too much loss of merchandise are crucial challenges to overcome. For instance, the wholesaler Rungis has now opened up a fresh produces e-commerce. Unsold merchandise of the past weeks are now sold to individuals, so they maintain profit.

Training operational teams is a priority for these companies. To prepare the return of activity, Stockists, Logistics Managers and Operational Managers will have to handle an important amount of merchandise and new flows.


So how can you prepare your employees for the recovery ?

Several firms try to anticipate the activity’s recovery. Others still attempt to continue to working even if their services in agencies or shops are no longer possible. Some brands are turning to e-shopping, offer discounts and free delivery in order to enhance their digital activity. However, is that method going to help sell all stock? Is it going to make the company’s activity get back on its feet?

The answer is probably no. This is why companies have to train their employees in a remote way and to stay connected with them. Having to close its stores and offices isn’t just an economical matter, but it has also an emotional impact on employees. Some companies have built a strong bond within their teams. It is essential to keep this bond to maintain team spirit and performance.

Anticipate the COVID-19 activity recovery

From today on, inform your collaborators on the new processes your company intend to set up for the activity’s recovery. Scheduling regular team meetings is an efficient solution as it will allows you to align all of your employees on your updated objectives. In China, companies which recovered successfully are the ones that had anticipated the most and communicated the earliest in a proactive way.


Look at the future and structure your efforts toward the recovery 

With the activity’s recovery after such a crisis, your goals will surely change. Create a new offensive strategy and broadcast it in a clear and efficient way to all your teams. Exceptional situations such as the one we are living today are sometimes discovery periods. They are made of creation and reflexion bringing an innovative setting for a post-recovery strategy. However, implementing the appropriate tools such as mobile learning will help you reach all of your employees in a simultaneous and reactive way.


Ensure the security of your employees in a proactive way

During a crisis, it is difficult to clear a massive amount of information out. This can create a stressful situation within teams, making them less productive. Reassure your employees ! Send them advice to avoid confusion created by the medias. Notify them regularly on preventive habits they now have to adopt. Thanks to clear and consistent communication, inform your employees on new work methods.

Prepare yourself to a faster than expected recovery

Six weeks only after the beginning of the pandemic, China seems to be at the first stages of the economic recovery. Considering the time needed to broadcast and to apply new policies in large companies, the recovery planning has to start while you are still reacting to the crisis. The case of a Chinese travel agency is compelling. Facing a drop of its activity, this agency has focused on long term plans. It means improving its employees’ skills, designing new management methods in order to be better prepared by the time of activity recovery. Thanks to mobile solutions, keep on training your employees and develop their skills even in crisis situations.


Innovate quickly in front of new issues 

We are seeing that a crisis such as the COVID-19 forces us to think through working methods differently. Some companies try innovative solutions to train and to communicate at best with theirs teams. Investing in mobile learning solutions is a topical matter. It is obvious that employees will must be ready to tackle critical situations. A technical training is in this way necessary.


A national rallying of mutual aid: Live For Long Operation

While large companies are restructuring their production line in order to produce masks and hydroalcoholic gel (like LVMH), other small businesses, such as startups, contribute to the national and economical effort. SPARTED has decided to provide its mobile learning platform to all enterprises and organizations for free and without condition. It allows to meet the needs of every company to engage in a reactive and massive way all of its employees everyday. Thanks to mobile learning, you can keep inform your collaborators and reassure them on the health situation while increasing their job skills. And all of this for free !

Solange is SPARTED's Marketing Manager. After 2 years spent in Boston, MA, USA, studying International Marketing and working for an IT B2B SaaS startup. She decided to come back to France and experience entrepreneurship "à la française". With her dedication to innovative pedagogical means and passion for Inbound Marketing, Solange joined SPARTED in 2019 and since then it's been a match made in heaven.