With COVID-19 vaccines becoming more readily available, it looks like we may finally have a chance at getting our lives and our businesses back to something close to normal. It’s been a long year to say the least. Many organizations lucky enough to survive the effects of the pandemic have been reduced to lean teams, and will likely have to rely on these smaller teams for the foreseeable future.

Many of us have worked on small teams at some point in our careers, and it's always the people on those teams — their energy, their love of the work, their camaraderie — who really keep an organization going. But when those teams have been recently downsized or aren't used to working small, the million things they're asked to do as part of their day-to-day can quickly become daunting and exhausting. For those still working from home, this can also mean a further blurring between work and personal lives as hours get longer to deal with added responsibilities, causing negative mental health impacts.

So what can organizations do to help their teams stay successful now that they're leaner? The biggest question for leaders after making the difficult decision to downsize to try and keep the organization afloat is: “How do we keep our people going?” Remember, many of the thoughts that cross your mind are the same ones your people have. They want to feel safe, keep their families safe and know their job security isn’t at-risk.

Luckily there are some quick, practical ways you can use your HR technology to help alleviate the organizational and people concerns that come along with smaller teams and leaner operations. Let's take a look.

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1. Prioritize understanding and support with your operational processes

Organizations that make even the most routine processes into ways to connect with their people often see that their teams bring their best to work in return, boosting both productivity and engagement. A great example of this approach is how you go about managing schedules.

Modern scheduling solutions are smart enough to automatically suggest schedule recommendations and take action on behalf of your people managers — responding quickly to employee requests like shift swaps, open shifts, and time-off and taking their preferences into account. This is a practical way of using AI that's such a big win for your managers and employees. Your managers get to continue focusing on the business, the business continues running, and your people don’t have to worry about work coverage or getting the shifts that work for them.

2. Make managing burnout part of your people operations

Long hours. Working from home. Keeping ourselves and our families safe. These factors amplify the toll on mental health and it’s more vital than ever to keep regularly checking in with your people.

Give your people managers the insight they need into employees who are close to the burnout zone — this means easy-to-read, actionable on-demand reports and real-time analytics. See who’s been putting in tons of overtime, who hasn’t been as productive with KPIs, or who’s been missing shifts. This insight allows your people managers to quickly get to the root cause and build trust equity by letting employees focus on their personal needs and recharge their batteries. After all, when teams are lean retention becomes even more important.

Delivering this data in the right way is critical as well. Auto-notify your people managers with reports at the frequency you need: daily, weekly, or even monthly so they can take care or leverage real-time analytics to see which metrics are lower than normal, allowing your people managers to get ahead of the potential challenges before it greatly impacts the business. The right HR technology can even automatically deliver flight risk ratings for different employees based on these metrics, proactively helping you address what's making them likely to leave before it has an impact.

It's easy to find balance with employee schedule preferences and organizational needs with the help of scheduling, forecasting, and AI. Anticipating the workload that’s about the come in, your teams can build better schedules or have the system automatically build them for you according to your business rules. Flexible schedules are becoming more in demand than ever with the need to take care of personal matters outside of work.

3. Recognize and reward your people based on the actions they take

The same people data used to manage burnout and business continuity can also be used to thoughtfully recognize and reward employees for all of their hard work. This can come in the form of spot bonuses, more time off, or making sure stand-out work is acknowledged and documented in the moment so it gets reflected come performance review time.

Setting time up for regular one-on-ones is instrumental in keeping spirits up and provides employees an opportunity to allow their voice to be heard. Pulse surveys and peer feedback processes are also great ways to gather info both on how people would like to be recognized and who is making a positive impression on the people they work with. Recognizing employees regularly helps your organization retain rock stars, increase employee engagement, and keep performance high.

Curious about possible ways to recognize employees? We've got some great general tips you can implement regardless of the HR systems you use. Remember, even just saying thank you can be a powerful source of motivation for your people.

Conclusion: Align the personal and the practical to help small teams thrive

These three areas are vital to keeping your organization going while it's scaled down. Taking the right steps with your HR technology can help keep things afloat by keeping your people engaged, empowering them to be heard, and keep the business going. If you'd like more tips on how to put repeatable strategies in place that will serve you well long after COVID-19 is over, go and check out The Complete Playbook for HR Technology During Times of Crisis to learn more about how HR technology can help you build a strong foundation, operate efficiently, and look to the future.

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Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2021