Podcast #169 – How to Guide Employees Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Vet Recruiter®
The Vet Recruiter®
Podcast #169 - How to Guide Employees Through the COVID-19 Pandemic
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Julea: Welcome to “The Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider,” brought to you by The VET Recruiter. In this podcast, Animal Health Executive Search Consultant and Veterinary Recruiter, Stacy Pursell, founder, and CEO of The VET Recruiter, provides insight and practical advice for both employers and job seekers in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. The VET Recruiter’s mission is to help Animal Health and Veterinary employers find and recruit top talent, while helping animal health and veterinary professionals attain career-enhancing opportunities that increase their quality of life.

In today’s podcast episode, we’ll be talking about how Animal Health organizations and Veterinary practices can help guide employees through the COVID-19 pandemic. Hello, Stacy, and thank you for joining us today.

Stacy: Hello, Julea. As always, I’m glad to be here.

Julea: Stacy, what’s behind the topic of today’s podcast episode? What inspired you to talk about this?

Stacy: Obviously, this is a difficult time in the world and in our country right now, and I know there is a lot of uncertainty for people, including those who work in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. Regardless of whether or not organizations are hiring at the moment, they’re still dealing with employees. Some of these employees might be working remotely, but chances are good that many of them are not, especially in the Veterinary profession, veterinary practices for example.

It’s very important for organizations to handle their employees and themselves the right way during this pandemic. And that’s why I wanted to discuss some of the things they should be doing to help guide their employees. One of the reasons this is important is because professionals are taking note of how their employer handles this current situation.

Julea: They are? What do you mean by that?

Stacy: This could be considered a crisis situation, and as they say, a crisis reveals character. That’s true with people and it’s also true with organizations. Animal Health and Veterinary professionals want to see their employer act with character and integrity during a crisis like this one. If they don’t see their employer act that way, then it might not bode well for their employer.

Julea: Is that because the professional might decide to leave the employer?

Stacy: That’s right. When this pandemic has passed, the employee could decide they didn’t like what they saw from their employer during the crisis, and as a result, they may decide to pursue other employment opportunities. In fact, they might not even wait until the pandemic has passed or subsided before they start looking.

Julea: Stacy, is this related to employer branding?

Stacy: Yes, it absolutely is. I am a big proponent of both personal branding and employer branding. How an organization brands itself is critical in terms of both its current employees and any candidates that it might be recruiting in the marketplace. And branding is all about the experience. In this case, it’s all about the experience that Animal Health and Veterinary professionals have with their employer. And obviously, employees must have a positive experience if the organization hopes to be branded in a positive way.

Julea: How can an employer brand itself in a positive way during this pandemic?

Stacy: The first step is to not be tone-deaf.

Julea: What does that mean, exactly?

Stacy: It was initially meant to be a musical term, meaning a person who is not able to tell the difference between two notes. However, in this context, it means someone who is unable to comprehend a given situation, especially a complex one that involves many different facets. And the COVID-19 pandemic definitely falls into that category.

Specifically, it means that when organizations communicate with their employees, they must do so in a way that is sensitive to the facts surrounding the pandemic. In other words, they can’t just plow ahead and pretend that everything is simply “business as usual” when that is clearly not the case. On the other hand, it also doesn’t mean that an employer should remind its employees to wash their hands all the time or practice social distancing. People are getting that message loud and clear from multiple sources.

Julea: What exactly are professionals looking for from their employers?

Stacy: What professionals want is for their employers to be both realistic and transparent about what is happening. They want their employers to acknowledge the reality of the situation and not be blind to the facts. And more importantly, they want their employers to be transparent about the decisions they’re making during this time, including the thought processes behind those decisions.

Julea: That sounds like it’s tough to do.

Stacy: In some situations, it might be, but it’s also the right thing to do because transparency is something that helps to build trust between an organization and its employees. When an organization is not transparent, that’s when employees start to be more leery of their employer and are less likely to trust it.

Julea: It seems like communication plays a large role in all of this.

Stacy: It does! Communication is vitally important. There’s a saying that goes, “If you want to make sure that you’re communicating enough, then try to over-communicate.” That’s because it’s almost impossible to over-communicate with a person or a group of people. Usually, when you try to over-communicate, you communicate just enough. Communication can be tricky, especially during a crisis situation like this pandemic. That’s why it’s crucial for organizations to do three things.

Julea: What three things are those?

Stacy: First, they have to make sure they’re communicating the right information to their employees. Second, they have to make sure they’re communicating that information using the proper channels and the correct methods. And third, they have to make sure they’re communicating the information frequently enough to their employees. Once again, over-communication should be the goal so that the proper amount of communication is taking place.

However, there’s something else that organizations should communicate besides just information or decisions that management has made.

Julea: What’s that?

Stacy: Expectations, and this is something that is important to communicate all of the time, not just now. However, communicating expectations during a crisis like this pandemic is especially critical. To put it in simple terms, there are a few things that employees want to know.

First, they want to know what is happening now and what is happening next. Second, they want to know what is expected of them and what they can expect from their employer. From an organization’s standpoint, there are three distinct parts to this.

First, you have to set the expectations. Second, you have to communicate the expectations. And third, you have to make sure that the expectations are met. This includes not just making sure that employees meet expectations, but also that the organization meets the expectations of its employees. This is certainly not a one-way street.

Once again, doing this helps to build more trust, and trust is absolutely critical for guiding people through a crisis.

Julea: That makes sense. What else is on our list? What else can employers do?

Stacy: Something else that Animal Health Companies and Veterinary practices can do is be flexible and understanding during this time. This includes with their employees’ work situations and maybe even sometimes with their schedule, if possible. Since this is a difficult time, sometimes difficult choices have to be made. But once again, people expect certain things from their employers, and one of the things they expect is for their employer to act with compassion and understanding. And if those expectations are not met, then there’s a good chance they will not want to work for that employer for very much longer.

Julea: Stacy, is it true that it falls on the shoulders of those in management positions to set the example for an organization’s employees?

Stacy: Yes, that is the case. Members of management must set the example. If they want employees to do certain things, then they must be willing to do those things themselves. This is another way to get people to “buy in” to what you’re doing and build trust with them.

Julea: It seems as though trust is the thread that runs all throughout this discussion.

Stacy: Yes, it is, and I can’t stress enough how important it is. Even during “normal times,” if an Animal Health or Veterinary professional doesn’t trust their employer, then chances are good they won’t be with that employer very long. This is especially the case now. A person must feel as though their employer is working for them just as much as they’re working for their employer.

And of course, an Animal Health Company or Veterinary practice is in business to make a profit so that it can stay in business. There is no disputing that. However, people want to know and feel as though their success is a priority for their employer. Because when employees are successful in their job, then the organization is successful as a whole. So, it makes sense that an Animal Health company or Veterinary practice would make the success of its employees a priority.

Julea: That’s the definition of a win-win situation, right?

Stacy: Yes, that’s absolutely right! And not only will people trust their employer more if they know their employer is interested and invested in their success, but that knowledge will also motivate them to accomplish and produce more, which will benefit the organization more in the long run.

Julea: Stacy, we’re just about out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up today’s podcast episode?

Stacy: Yes. With as much uncertainty as there is in the economy and within the employment marketplace, Animal Health and Veterinary professionals are looking for strong leadership to help guide them through this time and help prepare them for what’s to come once the pandemic has passed. This is a prime opportunity for employers to brand themselves in the right way, show that they are leaders in the marketplace, and build loyalty with their current employees.

Julea: Stacy, thank you so much for all of this great information about how organizations can guide their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Stacy: You’re very welcome, Julea, and thank you. It’s been my pleasure, and I look forward to our next episode of the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider.

Julea: That’s all for today’s show. For Stacy Pursell and everyone at The VET Recruiter, thank for your listening and we invite you to join us next time when we address more employment issues in the Animal Health industry and Veterinary profession. We hope that you will join us then!

In the meantime, if you organization needs help recruiting and hiring for critical positions reach out to Stacy or if you are looking for a new position in the Animal Health Industry or Veterinary Profession reach out to Stacy.

Thank you for again for joining us today for the Animal Health and Veterinary Employment Insider.