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Excellent people management has been vital to organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic, with challenges arising as our workplaces have changed form. In partnership with CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, we ran a Supporters’ Network Webinar exploring the challenges of people management in different and continually changing circumstances. The key points from the discussion are below, alongside resources and the full video recording.


Manage with mental health in mind.

When managing a team, acknowledging the individual concerns, needs and desires of each member is essential. There will be a broad spectrum of home situations for employees – making some eager to continue working from home, and others desperate to return to the workplace. Open, clear communication between employers and staff is essential when making these decisions. If issues are communicated, employers need to abide by their duty of care and try to find, or direct them towards, appropriate support. However, due to continuing risks, a return to the workplace should only be adopted when it is considered essential, safer than the alternative and mutually agreed.


Develop strong line managers.

The key people management behaviours around empathy, flexibility and support are always critical, but are fundamentally important now. This is why strong line managers are essential, equipped with the right skills to fully support their team. This includes providing line managers with sufficient training – ensuring they have the understanding and emotional intelligence needed to help staff on multiple levels. Line managers themselves are under a lot of pressure, and will need to be similarly supported by their employers to ensure they can do the same for others. Rather than a ‘new normal’, this is a time where many of us are having to manage and work under different and ever-changing circumstances, and having the right support to do this is crucial.  


Consider the future of People Management.

A survey by CIPD found that out of 1,000 employers, 75% expect the demand for home working to increase post-lockdown, and almost 50% are now more likely to accept requests for flexible working options. The crisis has demonstrated that many organisations can be more flexible than they have been, without any loss to productivity. This has, in turn, increased the trust between people and their managers in the workplace. Moving forward maintaining this level of trust, and the personal connections established through open communication, would create stronger teams’ post-lockdown. Understanding employees’ individual circumstances may help shape their job design moving forward, and will help keep the team prepared for whatever shape reopening plans will take.  



Virginie Ghaznavi, Organisational Development Specialist at The Growth Company

Tricia Nelson, Workforce Advisory Lead Partner at Ernst & Young UK and Ireland

Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at CIPD


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