How to Prepare Stood-Down Employees To Return To Work

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the workforce, many businesses have faced tough decisions on whether they can hold on to staff or must let them go. However, the introduction of the Australian government’s JobKeeper initiative in March enabled many businesses to choose a ‘middle ground’ – standing employees down rather than laying them off.

Since JobKeeper was introduced on March 30th, Career365 has interviewed 112 HR directors and business owners to gauge how employers are feeling about this unusual situation. In this series of articles, we’re exploring the insights our survey uncovered, and taking a look at how employers can address their stand-down concerns and support employees during this time.

Part 3: How to Prepare Stood-Down Employees To Return To Work

In the course of our stand-down survey, it became apparent that a number of employers and HR Directors were concerned about employees being ill-prepared or ‘rusty’ when the time came for them to return to the workplace.

The Managing Partner of a suburban law practice who’d had to stand down 16 of their 20 employees was worried that staff “were not considering how they could add value to their roles and business relationships” once they were back to work. Similarly, the HR Director of an events business believed it would take at least 6 months to bring their staff back to any sense of pre-pandemic normalcy.

Yet with 60% of those surveyed stating they had not provided any framework or expectations to their stood-down employees for up-skilling, personal and professional development, or using the time productively, there is a clear need for a structured approach to help stood-down employees prepare for their eventual return to work.

Supporting employees to remain proactive and self-motivated during stand-down is a key focus of Career365’s Horizons program – an online support program for employees stood-down due to COVID-19. By providing structured training and guidance, the program helps employees avoid becoming ‘rusty’ at their jobs, as well as supporting them to not only be prepared for their return, but to go back to work as the best versions of themselves.

Here are some of the ways you can support your employees to ‘hit the ground running’ when they return to work:

Support stood-down employees to develop themselves professionally or personally

Whether it’s learning a brand new skill or improving an existing skill-set, the combination of being stood down from work and self-isolating at home due to COVID-19 provides an ideal opportunity for skills development. And in terms of mental wellbeing, keeping the mind active and productive makes this a beneficial activity for stood-down employees.

While it’s important that employees don’t feel pressured into upskilling for their role without an incentive, many will see the benefits of using this time to develop themselves on either a personal or professional level. Whatever the activity, learning a new skill can boost confidence and will help employees stay proactive during stand-down – both of which will be an advantage upon their return to the workplace.

Encourage employees to reflect on their role and performance

Having some distance from their typical day-to-day work routine can be a great chance for stood-down employees to look back on their job and reflect on how they’ve been performing. As a way of preparing to return to work, they may wish to spend some time really thinking about their role – what they want to focus on, how they can improve, and what they might do differently after this time away.

This type of reflection can be a very positive exercise when undertaken in a proactive, structured way, such as by supporting employees to develop a plan of action for when they return to their role so they can get the most out of their jobs.

Get employees thinking about ‘who they want to be’ when they return

Following on from the point above, the stand-down period can be a good time for employees to give some thought to the type of person they want to be from a broader perspective. Using this time for self-reflection can help to identify personal areas they’d like to work on, which can have a positive effect on their role and workplace interactions.

By guiding employees through exercises that help them focus on their personal development, you can equip them to return to work in a better frame of mind, with more focus, greater positivity, and a clearer vision for the future.

Show stood-down employees the value in proactively maintaining client relationships

While there should be no expectation for stood-down employees to spend time focusing on work-related areas, remaining in contact with clients and suppliers during stand-down should they wish will help employees maintain the valuable relationships they’d developed and could facilitate a quicker return to normal once business picks up again.

If your employees want to be proactive about maintaining these relationships, knowing they have the support of their employer will help them to stay connected and engaged – which could be as simple as reaching out via email or text message or calling a client to check in.

The Horizons program from Career365 is a 4-week or 8-week online support program specifically designed for employees who have been stood-down to COVID-19. By providing structured training and guidance via webinars and online resources, Horizons helps employers keep their stood-down employees engaged, productive, motivated and connected.

If you’re an HR director or business owner who would like to find out more about supporting your stood-down employees with our structured online program, please email horizons@career365.com.au

Greg Weiss has authored two books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding, and is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.

Developing and entrepreneurial mindset

The Benefits of Teaching Stood-Down Employees to ‘Think Like an Entrepreneur’

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the workforce, many businesses have faced tough decisions on whether they can hold on to staff or must let them go. However, the introduction of the Australian government’s JobKeeper initiative in March enabled many businesses to choose a ‘middle ground’ – standing employees down rather than laying them off.

Since JobKeeper was introduced on March 30th, Career365 has interviewed 112 HR directors and business owners to gauge how employers are feeling about this unusual situation. In this series of articles, we’re exploring the insights our survey uncovered and taking a look at how employers can address their stand-down concerns and support employees during this time.

This article is part 2 of a series. You can read part one here.

Part 2: The Benefits of Teaching Stood-Down Employees to ‘Think Like an Entrepreneur’

When questioned about their concerns regarding the stand-down period, 85% of employers expressed worry that their stood-down employees would be using the time as an extended holiday rather than a period of self-improvement. An HR Director of a software company who had stood down 30 staff members stated he was worried that “employee motivation would be down upon returning to work”.

Employers would clearly prefer their stood-down staff members to remain motivated and proactive during this period. But with more than half of those surveyed admitting they had provided no framework for personal or professional development while on stand-down, making this happen seems unlikely unless employees are given some form of structured guidance.

Career365’s Horizons program enables employers to support their stood-down employees by helping them remain productive, engaged, and motivated. One of the ways we achieve this is by helping participants develop an entrepreneurial mindset – which in turn helps them to build motivation and confidence, become more solutions-focused, and take control of their own destiny.

The benefits of developing an entrepreneurial mindset

Adopting the mindset of an entrepreneur – or an intrapreneur within an organisation – offers a wide range of benefits in both a personal and professional context. And the great news is, anyone can learn to think like an entrepreneur or business owner with the right guidance.

Getting into this entrepreneurial mind frame can result in greater confidence and resilience, as well as becoming more motivated and proactive. These attributes have obvious advantages in the workplace, but can also have a very positive effect on mental wellbeing, which will be hugely beneficial to employees facing the emotional pressures of being stood-down while facing the social restrictions of a COVID-19 environment.

Here are some of the ways that developing an entrepreneurial mindset can benefit stood-down employees and, indirectly, their employers:

Helping employees become more solution-focused

One thing that separates successful entrepreneurs from others is their attitude towards challenges. Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will help stood-down employees improve their problem-solving skills, enabling them to return to their roles with a newfound enthusiasm for overcoming challenges they encounter.

This solution-focused attitude can help to tap into creativity and encourage stood-down employees to ‘think outside the box’, which will be a great asset in their return to regular work. What’s more, this creative mindset will also be beneficial during self-isolation – enhanced creativity will help stood-down employees look beyond the next Netflix binge and seek out more fulfiling, healthy ways to spend their time, such as learning a new skill.

Supporting stood-down staff members to be more confident

Thinking like an entrepreneur can help to improve decision-making skills and self-confidence. As your stood-down employees learn to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, their confidence is likely to grow and their ability to make fast, qualified choices will improve.

While these capabilities have clear benefits for performance in the work-related arena, skills like these will come in very handy during the stand-down period, as emotions such as fear, uncertainty, and doubt take hold. Having confidence in themselves will help stood-down employees to navigate these concerns and remain in a positive headspace.

Encouraging stood-down employees to be accountable

A key aspect of developing an entrepreneurial mindset is learning to take accountability for your actions. During this stand-down period, this could mean stood-down staff members take some time to reflect on their role and performance, in order to identify areas they’d like to improve upon.

Encouraging employees to be more accountable in both their work and personal lives will also help them be more open to feedback and increase their willingness to upskill or improve their existing skills-set.

Support employees to ‘take control of their own destiny’

When you think like an entrepreneur, you begin to take more control of your life and your future. People with an entrepreneurial mindset tend to be more motivated to succeed and feel inspired to give their all.

In a work context, thinking like an entrepreneur will help employees to take ownership of their roles, and strive to perform at the best of their abilities. Meanwhile, in their home environment, this capacity to take control of their own destiny will help them stay on top of the current situation and be better equipped to cope with the challenges they face.

Develop self-motivation skills in stood-down employees

By guiding your stood-down staff members to adopt an entrepreneurial mindset, you’ll be supporting them in developing key skills in self-motivation and proactivity. This may result in finding ways to maintain relationships with clients or suppliers during their stand-down period or actively seeking opportunities to learn new skills that will help them in their return to work.

Developing an entrepreneurial mindset will encourage employees to become confident self-starters with a more disciplined approach to work. In addition, this ability to self motivate will be of great benefit amidst the turbulent COVID-19 environment, when staying motivated and positive can help people rise above the negative emotions they’ll inevitably experience.

 

The Horizons program from Career365 is a 4-week or 8-week online support program specifically designed for employees who have been stood-down to COVID-19. By providing structured training and guidance via webinars and online resources, Horizons helps employers keep their stood-down employees engaged, productive, motivated and connected.

If you’re an HR director or business owner who would like to find out more about supporting your stood-down employees with our structured online program, please email horizons@career365.com.au 

Greg Weiss has authored two books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding, and is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.

stood-down employee relaxing at home

How to Keep Your Employees Productive and Active During Stand-Down

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc across the workforce, many businesses have faced tough decisions on whether they can hold on to staff or must let them go. However, the introduction of the Australian government’s JobKeeper initiative in March enabled many businesses to choose a ‘middle ground’ – standing employees down rather than laying them off.

Since JobKeeper was introduced on March 30th, Career365 has interviewed 112 HR directors and business owners to gauge how employers are feeling about this unusual situation. In this series of articles, we’re exploring the insights our survey uncovered, and taking a look at how employers can address their stand-down concerns and support employees during this time.

How to Keep Your Employees Productive and Active During Stand-Down

When it comes to what employers are worried about during this stand-down period, our study revealed that a whopping 85% of employers are concerned that their stood-down employees viewed this period as a holiday and would be more likely to watch Netflix than focus on self-improvement and skills development.

However, we also found that 60% of employers did not provide any framework or expectations to their stood-down employees for upskilling, personal and professional development, or using the time productively.

Clearly, there’s much more that employers can be doing if they want to help their stood-down staff members remain productive, motivated, and engaged – but how can this be achieved during a period of isolation?

In our HORIZONS program – an online support program for stood-down employees – we focus on a number of areas designed to improve productivity and encourage professional and personal development while employees aren’t in the workplace. Here are some of the ways we help employers support their stood-down staff members to be as productive as possible during stand-down:

1. Help stood-down employees to develop a productive mindset

Productivity begins with mindset – and when you find yourself both stood-down from work and in isolation at home, developing this can be the difference between remaining stuck in ‘couch potato’ mode and moving to a positive, proactive state of mind.

There are a number of techniques for developing a productive mindset, which we cover in our HORIZONS program. By equipping stood-down employees with these practical mental tools, they’ll be more likely to skip the Netflix binge and instead seek out opportunities to upskill and try new activities.

As well as helping to keep stood-down staff members motivated and mentally active, employers also stand to benefit from a more dynamic, energised team when stand-down is over.

2. Encourage your stood-down staff members to develop new skills

With the additional time available to employees that are no longer working their jobs, stand-down provides an ideal opportunity to improve current skill-sets or learn a new skill entirely. This could be a practical skill such as learning how to type faster, or increasing knowledge in an area an employee has had a long-held interest in, such as digital marketing or social media.

Whatever the chosen outlet, supporting your stood-down employees to occupy their time in a productive way will help improve their mental wellbeing, keep them in a positive frame of mind, and assist them in returning to the workforce better than before.

Spending time learning new skills is a great way for stood-down employees to keep their minds occupied during isolation. By focusing the brain on healthy, productive tasks, they’ll be less likely to fall into bad habits or dwell on the negative aspects of their situation.

3. Teach your employees how to self-motivate

Faced with the ‘double whammy’ of being stood-down and witnessing the effects of a global pandemic, the vast majority of stood-down employees will be experiencing a complex and difficult range of emotions, including fear, uncertainty, and doubt. The ability to cope with these feelings in a healthy way relies on having the capacity to self-motivate and develop a strong, positive mindset.

In our HORIZONS program, self-motivation is a key focus area. By providing stood-down employees with the knowledge and insights to deal with their emotional cycles and develop resilience, we help them stay motivated and open to the many opportunities afforded by this period.

Self-motivation is an invaluable skill in both a personal and professional context, so developing this ability during stand-down will offer long-term benefits, no matter what the future holds.

The HORIZONS program from Career365 is a 4-week or 8-week online support program specifically designed for employees who have been stood-down to COVID-19. By providing structured training and guidance via webinars and online resources, HORIZONS helps employers keep their stood-down employees engaged, productive, motivated and connected.

If you’re an HR Director or business owner who would like to find out more about supporting your stood-down employees with our structured online program, please email horizons@career365.com.au

Greg Weiss has authored two books about career transitioning and is soon to release a third. He has deep expertise in outplacement and employee onboarding, and is the Founder of Career365 (formerly CareerSupport365) – a leading Australian employee transitioning firm, specialising in outplacement and employee onboarding.

What Motivates You at Work (and Why It’s Not About the Money)

Mike thought he’d been working towards his dream career. After all, he held a senior role in a high-profile organisation. Along with the power and prestige this afforded him, Mike enjoyed perks like a high salary and an office with a beautiful view.

From the outside, it seemed like Mike had it all.

But, some concerns were starting to cloud Mike’s happiness and one day, he realised that this so-called dream career actually felt more like he’d sold his soul.

Following a company restructure, his core values no longer seemed to align with those of his employer, and the opportunities for professional development he had been working towards had suddenly been taken off the table.

When he broached his concerns with his wife, she told him in no uncertain terms that he could not leave his job or take a pay cut because their lifestyle would suffer too much.

Mike increasingly felt trapped and was too scared to make any changes to his career.

This unhappiness ended up seeping into his personal life, to the point where he lost everything important to him.

Can you relate to Mike’s situation?

Have you ever felt like you’ve sold your soul?

Money and prestige only get you so far
Salary, working conditions and additional perks are what Frederick Herzberg refers to as hygiene factors. In the context of work, these are the tangible environmental factors, that help to make a job more comfortable to do.

It can be tempting to believe that a job with good hygiene factors is enough. But unfortunately, job satisfaction relies on more than fulfilled hygiene factors, because these don’t address any of your higher-level needs and motivations.

 

An enriched career maximises your motivating factors

Motivating factors are intangible in the context of work, and it is these that govern whether you find a job satisfying and meaningful. They include:

  • Achievement
  • The challenge of the work itself
  • The recognition you receive
  • Opportunities for growth, advancement and responsibility

This means that when looking for an enriched career, you need to look beyond the salary or the fancy office. When considering your satisfaction at your current job, or a new opportunity, ask yourself:

  • Is it meaningful to you?
  • Is it going to give you a chance to develop?
  • Will you learn new things?
  • Will you have the opportunity for recognition and achievement?
  • Will you be given responsibility?

Of course, motivating factors can look different from one person to the next. That’s because individuals may prefer to be recognised in different ways, or perceive opportunities for growth differently.

That’s why it’s essential to invest time to figure out what motivates you at work, and the type of career most likely to maximise those factors for you.

For more detailed advice on how to choose a career based on what motivates you at work, you may be interested in my upcoming book. Follow or subscribe for updates on the release!

Keyword: what motivates you at work

  1. “How Will You Measure Your Life” by C. Christensen, J. Allworth & K. Dillon. Published by HarperCollins, 2012.

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Greg Weiss is Australia’s leading career coach. He is the author of “So You Got The Job! WTF Is Next?”. The book prescribes a proven, practical 7-step guideline for new employees so they succeed, rather than fail their probation periods and beyond. Find out more about the book at https://www.wtfisnext.wtf

He is the Founder and Director of Onboff an online training and coaching platform that helps HR specialists, coaches and recruiters to deliver exceptional onboarding and offboarding experiences for employees.

He also hosts The Keep: The Employee Experience podcast and runs CareerSupport365.