Thursday August 6, 2020

Taking care of business – and your employees

Covid-19 is driving us to find new ways of working. In Future of Work, Newstalk’s Jess Kelly and Gavin McLoughlin will explore how long-lasting the changes will be, and how they will impact on other areas of our lives

4th July, 2020

In this week’s episode, in partnership with Vodafone Business, Jess and Gavin focus on the theme of ‘people’.

During this pandemic, the news cycle is full of numbers – the cases of Covid-19, the unemployment figures, the budgetary figures. But behind those figures, the story of this disease is a story of its impact on people. Hundreds of thousands of individuals who have lost their jobs, hundreds of thousands more who have had to change the way they do their job. Lots of sleepless nights, and lots of worry about paying the bills.

All of us have been affected in some way, but not to the same extent. For some groups, the effect has been more severe than others. Older people have suffered the worst medical outcomes, while younger people, disproportionately represented in the hard-hit retail and hospitality sectors, have therefore been disproportionately represented when it comes to job losses. They’ll also spend longer paying off the increased national debt that will result from this crisis.

Parents have been left without childcare and forced to balance their work lives with home-schooling. That makes it more difficult to be productive during normal working hours, perhaps necessitating draining early starts or late nights. Challenges like this pose a difficult question for employers: how can they keep staff’s spirits up, and accommodate their personal circumstances, while also maintaining productivity to help keep the business afloat?

That question and many others are tackled in this episode. Gavin and Jess also discuss the fallout of Covid-19 for people’s lives, their own experience of the pandemic to date, and how it has changed people’s attitudes when it comes to using technology.

In part 2 of the episode they speak to Niamh Graham from Workhuman, a tech company behind a software platform which, among other things, allows companies to recognise employees’ achievements or celebrate their life milestones as a way of boosting morale and motivation. Fellow employees are also able to take part.

Niamh discusses the impact the pandemic has had on Workhuman’s business, and how it has changed the types of things people are getting recognised for at work. The platform is also designed to enable performance management, and Niamh outlines how it has allowed companies to structure communications with employees differently in that area.

In part 3 Gavin and Jess speak to Audrey O’Mahony, who leads the talent and organisation arm of Accenture’s management consulting business. Some of the tasks she helps companies with include managing talent or implementing a restructuring.

Audrey gives her tips on areas including:

How to make sure morale-boosting exercises like Zoom quizzes and Zoom drinks don’t become ‘forced fun’ and counterproductive

How to ensure employees are productive and engaged

How much responsibility employees have for taking care of their own welfare

How to handle staff layoffs

If you’re a business owner looking for tips on how to manage and motivate your staff during this pandemic, you won’t want to miss this episode.

New Week’s Podcast

Next week’s edition of Future of will focus on remote working hubs. Gavin and Jess will explore whether these facilities are about to take off, or have they missed their moment if people decide to stay at home instead? They’ll be joined by Sarah Daly from Creative Spark in Dundalk to hear about their experience of the pandemic. Ken Tobin from the Tralee Chamber Alliance will appear as well, discussing how Covid 19 has affected the business community in Kerry, and how remote working hubs could play an important role in boosting regional development.

If you have any questions or comments for the show, you can email [email protected] and Jess and Gavin will answer as many as they can with their expert guests each week. You can also subscribe to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

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