COVID-19: What to do when Employees Want Secured Income while only Work Leisurely
June 1, 2021
COVID-19 pandemic not only spreads SARS-CoV-2 virus in the community, but also aggravates the “office zombie” disease by increasing the number of staff coming to work just because of wages.
Coming to work but not working
According to a report by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in 2020, COVID-19 predicted to further increased global unemployment between 5.3 to 24.7 million from a base level of 188 million in 2019. Meanwhile, companies tend to tighten their recruitment budgets. In these uncertain circumstances, employees are confused with the fear of losing jobs, losing income and becoming dependents. As a result, even when they are losing interest in the working environment or dissatisfying with their superiors, a large number of employees choose to keep working just to get paid.
This is a nightmare to HRM as these employees usually underperform. Not just spreading negative energy, having these “office zombies” within the organization also causes devoted employees to feel disastifying. Especially at companies where employment termination policies do not exist (except when there are serious violations), this “office zombies’ community could be further developed. With the mindset “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination”, there are several approaches to help “un-zombinize” these forces.
3 ways of transforming “zombie community” to “task force”
There are many reasons for “office zombies” to exist within the organization. This would be different from case to case which requires managers to find appropriate solutions for their companies. However, in general, there are three approaches that could be considered:
Manager to “break the ice”
In 2020, a survey in Morikawa, Japan showed that employees become less productive while working from home, averagely from 30-40%, during Covid-19. Lack of interaction is considered as the main reason causing productivity to decrease. Thus, managers are encouraged to proactively connect with their staff, by weekly 1-on-1 meetings to listen and give feedback to each team member.
Create opportunity for employees to develop their skill-set
Being given opportunities to study and develop new skills is what most employees desire. According to a report from 15Five, 75% of employees yearn to develop management skills. Therefore, during the pandemic, wise managers should give their staff opportunities to participate in online courses, especially management courses, from time management, project management to team/group management, etc. This would be a clever investment since it takes employees out of boredom and equips them with new skills to achieve business targets.
“The stick and the carrot” – Old but Gold
For employees who do not want to work hard but still want to be paid, companies could use the method “an iron fist in a velvet glove”
In the first half of 2020, wages of ⅔ countries over the world decreased or increased insignificantly due to the pandemic (Report from ILO). According to Ms. Nguyen Thi Thanh Huong – Deputy CEO of Talentnet: “Wage is always the “critical point” of employees, especially during COVID-19 period. Employers must find an appropriate approach to satisfy the most basic demand of employees before asking them to think about affection for your company or the desire to contribute.” That is the “velvet glove”, how about the “iron fist”?
The classic “stick” in the human resources sector, which is deterrent enough but also assures respect of employees, is distinctive policies for awards and penalties. Since money is the “Achilles heel” for all employees during Covid-19 Pandemic, financial awards and penalties can be an effective approach. On one hand, it awakens “office zombies” out of laziness. On the other hand, it motivates devoted employees who want to prove themselves.
“Misfortunes never come singly” is the idiom describing the situation of the companies at the moment. Externally, COVID-19 attacks heavily. Internally, the number of “office zombies” keeps increasing. Yet, this is also the opportunity for companies to rectify every aspect, from business plans to human resource strategies in order to nurture valuable staff after the pandemic, and contribute to the development of the company.