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.