Every leader is currently facing the ultimate test of resilience and adaptability, as COVID-19 continues to affect us in unforeseen ways. In times of uncertainty we look to those that inspire and lead us, and workforce leaders are under significant pressure to rise to the occasion.
The past few months have only been a catalyst to an overdue mass shift of leadership and workplace expectations; people no longer want to follow blindly (and that is true for workplace teams as well as consumers to brands) nor do they want an unhealthy work-life balance. We have been afforded the time to examine exactly how to improve work life and professional leadership – thanks to the worldwide health pandemic.
Leaders of any business or team have surely learnt the importance of being available, visible, and authentic. There has been a significant breakdown of the traditional walls of a workplace hierarchy, with CEOs having to digitally invite employees into their personal spaces. This raw authenticity has been the guiding beacon for leading teams through complex teams; the old adage of leading by example is true for the trade and workplace activities, but there can be no doubt of the positive effect of transparency and visibility on the mental health of employees in your company.
This situation has provided the perfect opportunity to audit work behaviors and systems. If effective communication has not been a priority before, now is truly the time to reflect on what your work systems look like post-COVID-19. Those commanding large and small teams have come to recognize the importance of structured communications systems, such as regular WIPs and digital task management services, as much of the workforce has transitioned to the home office.
Further to systemised communication, there has been a huge lens on how to maintain social connection in these times. Creating real, human connection has never before been such a purposeful action. Purposeful engagement with each other, checking in on health and productivity, and actually responding as an organization to employee needs – these deliberate efforts are something that must be preserved moving forward. This is the time to truly establish meaningful connections and nurture team development.
We no longer understand ‘work’ as the action of commuting and the physical structure of the office – it can no longer be just turning up. We are now able to introduce flexibility and autonomy to the work trait mix, and measure productivity with actual productivity. Businesses should rethink their ‘normal’ systems and gravitate towards this positive shift in the way we work and communicate for the future – what sustainable changes can we make as we move from response strategies to recovery.
What we witnessed last night on 4 Corners, ABC TV Australia, was a shocking indictment on the state of aged care in this country. We knew it would be hard to watch,. Neglect, lack of care and an appalling ratio of trained staff to residents. themselves some of the most vulnerable in our community. It is a failure on the part of all of us we have let this go on. The expose prompting the Prime Minister’s decision to hold a Royal Commission proves again how important the 4th Estate is to any democracy, and the ensuing media coverage, social media conversation and heightened community outrage will propel this issue forward. We can’t ignore this issue any longer, our elders deserve better.
From a communications perspective, let’s have a look at what has occurred and what needs to happen next.
The performance of the CEO of Leading Aged Care Services Sean Rooney in his interview was a study in how not to conduct a media interview. When there is evidence there are significant and widespread shortcomings in your industry, you do not provide responses such as: “I’m disappointed there is a feeling that their needs are not being met”. Responding to questions about how aged care homes could possibly provide quality of food at $6/day we got “these are people not eating a four course meal, that needs to be understood.” Mr Rooney, representing the peak industry body, appeared to be trying to defend his members, but he let them down badly. If he had acknowledged there were challenges, if he demonstrated some empathy for residents and a willingness to be support his members in lifting their game, he would be properly representing the industry body because let’s face it there are operators who are doing the right thing by their residents and right now they are hurting too. Which leads to me final point.
There is an enormous opportunity right now for the aged care sector to sort itself out and get some positive stories up and out. Many would think now is the time to keep a low profile and stay out of the way. And for many operators that is precisely what they should do. But for many more, this painful but necessary investigation of an industry fraught with issues will be hard. Hard for those providers who they are providing quality care and their staff who love and care of our fragile elderly. Let’s get those stories out there, there is much pain ahead for the industry, but there will also be a media appetite for cases of operators who are truly delivering on providing a safe home for our elders.