Posted: 10 Mar. 2021

How organisations can support their teams during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond

When COVID-19 arrived in New Zealand, the Government quickly imposed one of the world’s toughest lockdowns. This sudden and unforeseen crisis forced organisations to enact new and radical ways of working. Deloitte recently released the 2020 Chairs Research Project to reflect on the disruption, conducting a series of interviews with board chairs in New Zealand to understand their experiences responding to COVID-19.

Introducing practical assistance

The new reality which COVID-19 presented meant that traditional ways of working were no longer a safe and viable option. Changes to operations and talent management were common, with many organisations taking quick action to redirect resources towards keeping workers safe and healthy.

In practice this meant facilitating remote working arrangements, implementing testing and contact tracing strategies for onsite workers. It also involved establishing new programs for emergency medical leave, childcare and eldercare, as well as support for physical, mental, and financial health. Organisations also tended to check in with workers more frequently, connecting through virtual platforms to provide additional support and resources.

As the pandemic continued, organisations implemented various wellbeing initiatives to help workers manage the toll of social isolation and economic recession. Boards often told us about how they were complementing wellbeing programs adjacent to work designs. Some organisations were focusing on building digital wellness and productivity, while others were managing capacity at both the individual and team levels. Others were also encouraging job crafting — giving individuals autonomy to make meaningful decisions about what and how they contribute to the organisation.

Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends show that these initiatives had notable benefits. 7 in 10 executives said that their organisation’s shift to remote work had a positive impact on the wellbeing of their employees.

Looking ahead to the future

When asked to comment on the disruption of COVID-19 on the future of work, boards expressed several remarks. One which concerned boards the most was access to overseas talent. Boards who operated in industries which traditionally fill roles through overseas talent were particularly concerned about how they may source the right expertise with ongoing border constraints. This highlighted a need to ensure local talent is brought through the pipeline, providing workers with opportunities to learn, develop, and test new skills.

Deloitte’s report also found that COVID-19 highlighted key talent gaps. Organisations which had already been investing in their talent found that the pandemic response reinforced their talent strategy and recruitment decisions. Yet those who had directed little resources towards talent management found that they had to hire experts to assist with areas such as investor relations, people management and digital transformation as an immediate way to cover talent gaps.  This acted as a reminder that an organisation’s greatest asset is its people and, in turn, highlighted that organisations must continually develop a fluid talent management strategy which attracts and retains top workers.

Are you looking for support on refining your talent strategy? Get in touch with Deloitte’s Human Capital team here.

Get in touch

Sonia Breeze

Sonia Breeze

Partner - Consulting

I’m committed to enabling organisations to maximise the potential of their people.  My aim is to leverage my 25 years of experience in human capital consulting, health care and as a CHRO to advise and implement the people aspects of change and innovation. My broad background means I have an integrated and holistic approach to talent and I am particularly passionate about talent strategy, diversity and inclusion and operational improvements. I’m also the talent partner for the firm so I am very keen to continue sharing our internal leading talent initiatives with the market.   

Julian Fowler

Julian Fowler

Analyst - Organisational Transformation

Julian Fowler is an Analyst in the Organisational Transformation team at Deloitte New Zealand.