The current times are a test for all humanity. The high-speed bullet train of growth was halted overnight by the global pandemic with a jerk. With the workforce suddenly thrown into self-quarantine for such a long period of time, the world is witnessing a paradigm shift in the job market. While many industries such as IT-based services flourished even during the lockdown, the worst-hit were manufacturing industries which will take some time to recuperate entirely.
As a side-effect of the temporary shutdown of office and production facilities, businesses are worried that employees may have lost touch with their routine work. Factory owners feel the compelling need to re-train their workers on the use of various machines, procedures and also introduce the new norms of safety at work which include minimum contact and social distancing. There is an increased risk of injuries, on-the-job and fatal accidents owing to the break-in continuity of working habits.
The threat of a Coronavirus outbreak at the facility looms large. This increases the operational and reputational risk to companies already suffering losses due to the break in the supply chain. Sick or injured employees will result in loss of workforce, extra compensation to them instead of company and regulatory guidelines, missing delivery deadlines, and termination of contracts with buyers or suppliers, etc.
Managements need to come up with new innovative ways of training sessions for employees before resuming business. Lean management practises needing to be implemented to minimise the wastage from redundant business processes and save costs. Every penny saved in the planning or production stages is worth two that comes from the revenue.
Employers should prepare a list of checks and guidelines to train their employees, tailored according to the needs of their business function.
To have a centralised repository of these training programs and their derivative reports, AI-based checklist systems must be deployed to minimise paperwork and increase efficiency. Training programs may be designed around the following facets:
- Training the management and HR: They must be trained on developing a strategy and understanding which business divisions are absolutely necessary to be called back to the office/ factory. Then train them on how to devise a “Recall” plan to bring the employees back in a phase-wise manner.
- Coronavirus safety: These include guidelines on sanitisation of workspace, temperature checks and regular testing of employees, social distancing norms, contactless coordination between employees etc.
- Workplace safety: Employees must be informed about Floor plan changes, internal office internet and electricity networks, Fire safety procedures, special training on machine and special equipment handling for workers etc.
- Work From Home: Older employees who are deficient in technology but are more at risk due to the virus must be trained in various platforms and software required to assist them in remote working. Example, elderly teachers taking online classes.
- Norms for Meetings: Special checklists must be created to determine how to impart training to the employees in a group and what should be guidelines for conducting meetings in person. For e.g.: say, not having more than 10 people attend a board meeting. Or, restricting the number of employees to be trained at a facility to 50, etc.
Companies have already suffered huge losses and to make a comeback, employee engagement will be crucial. This is because employee morale is what translates into productivity. Asking for opinions/ feedback from employees, and engaging in a dialogue with them to design a training and recall program for them will benefit the overall business. To convert their output into revenue figures, the management should identify business needs and align them with the needs of their employees in these tough times.