Implementing the Motivation to Transform

Implementing the Motivation to Transform

Leading up to transformation, there was not enough time to adjust to new ways of working. People Solutions had to learn to pivot the business quickly, using employees’ skills to adjust to the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak. Like everyone else in the world, employees adjusted to working from home under unique and personal circumstances. Some employees live alone, some have children, some must share the home with working partners—and the first challenge was juggling daily work tasks and home life.

The outbreak of Covid-19 altered our perspective about learning and development. As a skills development provider—it identified a need to change our mindsets from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. This change was not only to accommodate our clients and learners—it became a critical perspective for our company’s success.

Much has changed in how we work because of how we pivoted our solutions, adapting to new methods, and demonstrating flexible use of ed-tech tools. We had to become adverse immune, and that required much personal reflection from everyone in our organisation.

Suddenly, in-person or face-to-face interaction mutated into virtual and online interaction. Software that we all took for granted previously became essential tools and required self-directed upskilling and reskilling… We quickly identified the massive, positive impact of developing skills to use Zoom, MS Teams and even Google Meets. Social networking and social media, including apps like Viber and Whatsapp, became ways to connect and with our clients and learners.

Before we knew it, future skilling and remote working became a standard, where we would interact with our teams, our clients, and especially our learners.

Specific skills became critically important, like self-regulation, resilience, flexibility, and developing an optimistic mindset—these are the behaviours that helped us become more conscientious, diligent, and focus intensely on achieving our individual and organisational goals and objectives. Trustworthiness became so important, and the expectation was that the deliverables would meet the required expectations within the required timelines. Taking the initiative became a norm as we brainstormed innovative methods to become productive—and each employee was committed to achieving personal learning goals and company goals without tangible, physical support.

We defined our target during the early days of the outbreak and did everything possible to get where we needed to be as a business. This mindset required embracing the principle of lifelong learning, self-directed activity, virtual team support and learning in collaboration within teams.

Using the Right Tools to Work from Home

All our departments found new ways to communicate, learn and enhance their skills and knowledge. With each one, teach one philosophy developing, we could spread skills and knowledge throughout our organisation. The realisation that each employee in the company is an expert in his/her own right sparked collaboration and learning at an unprecedented scale—and many employees felt comfortable taking on tasks and responsibilities that they thought they could not do before. The growth mindset led to empowered staff to thrived under dire circumstances to meet the company’s expectations and goals.

The greatest challenge for any skills development provider (during the Covid-19 outbreak) was moving operations from face-to-face FLT and embracing blended learning, virtual learning, or online learning. This digital disruption evolved into using video, eLearning, digital content, and even interactive PDFs as the new standard of training tools.
The most critical aspect of pivoting and adjusting our delivery methods depended on never compromising our clients’ and our learners’ learning delivery. This mindset ensured that we achieved our goals to provide quality learning to our clients and the learners as agreed.

Learning Paths that Empower

To ensure that our employees and our learners became more resilient, adaptable, flexible, and adversity immune, we encouraged embracing the principles of a growth mindset and placing value on upskilling and reskilling initiatives.

When it became apparent that our new processes were working, we explored additional elements to adapt. We made decisions about the relevancy of tools and methods that were once standard methods for our industry. Even after the pandemic has eventually passed—we have—and will continue to build new ways to train. The rise in virtual and online learning and development tools drives a new direction in the training and development industry globally.

The pandemic has become the catalyst for change and has directed all business to adapt to digital flexibility. Through this adaptable nature we now have, we can enhance what we do as training service providers. We also understand that gaps exist in the technology space. We hope that these gaps will change to ensure that everyone has access to digital tools and that data costs will eventually reduce, making education accessible for all.

People Solutions new learning pathways are designed to inspire growth, enhance a work-life balance, improve diversity appreciation, and develop a deep understanding of the world as a set of related systems.
The pandemic demonstrated that everything is connected and that we must do more as a skills development provider to ensure the success of everyone who interacts with our company.

Mental Health During Covid-19

The pandemic led to a rise in mental health problems caused by individual experiences of the disease, social distancing, stigmatisation, and discrimination of those exposed to infection. In South Africa and globally, the rise in job losses and business closures compounded the virus’s social impact.

Modern life has its challenges, which include work-related stress and anxiety—and life in general. Covid-19, however, exacerbated anxiety, depression, stress, and general phobias about contracting the virus. Due to these mental health issues, there is a marked increase in people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD), and many are struggling to cope with the condition.

Worldwide, there are new concerns about the virus’s variants or mutations and how they impact vaccines’ efficacy.
One of the most significant challenges regarding the impact of Covid-19 has been the growing reliance on technology to do business or interact with other people. It raises concerns across the population regarding low digital literacy, low smart device usage, data availability and connectivity issues, specifically in Africa. Globally, most people rely on social media, smart device apps and access to radio and television to remain informed about Covid-19 related information.

This situation must change to ensure that all people are kept informed using the platform that suits their lifestyle.

Ensuring Employee Work-Life Balance

The unique situation in which the world finds itself must cope with the planet-wide increase of mental health issues.
It does not help to remember that the whole world is affected by Covid-19 when our sense of balance, reality and stability are affected. The virus affects everyone, as more people know of someone infected or died because of Covid-19.

Countries around the world were unprepared for an outbreak on such a massive scale. Each country has developed solutions to address lockdowns’ economic impact, providing relief funding to citizens and procuring the vaccine. As unemployment statistics increase, companies face closure, borders are closing, and reduced social contact has impacted how we communicate.

Mitigating the Impact of Covid-19 Mental Health Issues

Companies like People Solutions have had to pivot how they do business using new ways to communicate and interact with clients, employees, and learners. There is a constant awareness to ensure others’ safety—and this includes wearing masks, sanitising, and protecting self and others.

In South Africa, we must increase digital technologies to enable interaction between people and enable access to learning and development to people of all social backgrounds. It also means that businesses (especially in learning and development) must pivot to ensure our industry’s sustainability. This pivot requires upskilling and reskilling staff to meet company expectations and client expectations for more remote interactions. We cannot defer digital transformation to a later time; it must happen now.

Businesses can indeed survive by becoming adaptable, flexible, and demonstrating their digital literacy in a currently isolated world. In the current atmosphere, change and learning must be continuous.

Learning Through Covid-19 Crisis

People Solutions began its journey toward digital transformation, digital solutions and upskilling a while back to ensure that we add value to the learning and development process. Our courses include online Work Readiness programmes, future skills, and a curated eLearning module collection towards supporting Work from Home environments, social distancing, and obligatory Covid-19 related precautions. We pivoted our learnership programmes to include virtual delivery where face-to-face and traditional training methodologies were deemed unsafe to continue.

At the start of lockdown in South Africa, we adjusted our learning pathways to include curated content for the following curriculums: Business Recovery Skills, Critical Business Skills and Fundamental Disaster Management—to help clients cope with Covid-19 outbreaks, lockdowns, and social distancing.

Staff Support and Assistance

In response to the outbreak and lockdown, we adjusted the way we work and more importantly, we ensured that our employees were always kept safe. The path we chose was to introduce our staff to online and internal training designed to inform teams about Covid-19 symptom awareness, take precautions to protect themselves and family, and deal with mental health issues using internal channels or preferred external and professional routes.

Check-In and Check-Out meetings encouraged staff to communicate openly in a safe environment. The meetings were to conduct emotional temperature checks, determine a team’s coping mechanisms, and develop an awareness of potential crises. The meetings helped teams remain motivated and check progress on any issues that arose from previous meetings.

Teams were also encouraged to practice mindfulness during the workday and take breaks regularly, all of which were encouraged to reduce the pandemic, loss, illness, and mental fatigue effects.

Despite our challenges as an industry impacted by the effects that Covid-19 has on business, the organisation’s focus was to maintain team happiness, calmness, focus and maintain a work-life balance under challenging circumstances. To ensure employees were upskilling, our slogan: Sow the seed. See the growth—guided our efforts. We encouraged staff to remember: You cannot pour from an empty cup, which meant each person was to look after themselves.

Written by Sean A. Eagle
Head: Product and Innovation
Published in Industry Updates and News, BPESA Newsletter, February 2021