Which Pandemic-Era People Strategies Are Worth Preserving?


Organizations are always changing. This has been especially important since the pandemic arrived in 2020. At first, HR and business leaders were flying blind, reacting instinctively to all the upheaval and uncertainty. Then through trial and error, many improved their people-related processes and policies. And some built much more resilient, responsive, remote-friendly work cultures.

So, now that the pandemic is behind us, what people strategies are worth retaining? And how can other organizations benefit from applying these methods?

To encourage more open conversation about what works, we recently asked members of our community to answer several questions:

  • What is the most effective people strategy you implemented during the pandemic?
  • Why do you think this is valuable, even in a post-pandemic world?
  • What is your advice for others who want to achieve similar results?

In response, we received 12 recommendations from a wide variety of business executives, founders, and HR practitioners. Their recommendations offer excellent guidance for any employer that wants to build a stronger, more future-friendly organization:

  1. Adopt Flexible Work Model
  2. Implement a Weekly Anchor Day
  3. Enhance Onboarding With Virtual Office Tours
  4. Create an Employee Mentorship Program
  5. Transition to Remote Performance Reviews
  6. Transform Culture with Digital Tools
  7. Schedule Monthly One-on-One Check-Ins
  8. Optimize Meeting Schedules
  9. Encourage Anonymous Employee Feedback
  10. Streamline PTO Policies for Better Rest
  11. Develop a Strong Employer Brand
  12. Intensify Focus on DEI Initiatives

 

For details about these proven ideas, read on…


12 Successful People Strategies From the Pandemic

1. Adopt a Flexible Work Model

Implementing flexible work arrangements has made a tremendous impact, because it empowers our employees to manage their schedules for a better work-life balance. The pandemic reminded people that we don’t live forever, so enjoying every moment and taking time for ourselves is crucial.

This move shows that we trust in our employees’ ability to deliver results regardless of location. Alongside this, we provide regular communication and feedback mechanisms to ensure transparency and alignment with organizational goals.

If you’re implementing flexible work , I recommend assessing operational needs and employee preferences first. This will help you tailor programs effectively from the start. Also, establish performance metrics based on outcomes rather than hours. It shows accountability and ensures productivity. Your remote teams should feel a sense of belonging to the company.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

 

2. Implement a Weekly Anchor Day

We have incorporated an “anchor day” into our hybrid work model. In other words, we require that everyone be present in-person once a week, on a pre-defined, non-rotating day. This day enables us to focus on our internal customer service and facilitates in-person communication.

With an anchor day in the schedule, we can organize training, team celebrations, and meaningful meetings more efficiently. It also ensures that we maintain high-quality service for our HR clients.

Stacy Jensen, HR Director, InTandem Human Resources, LLC

 

3. Enhance Onboarding With Virtual Office Tours

An effective onboarding strategy I discovered when managing virtual employee onboarding involves personalized virtual office tours. Instead of a standard virtual orientation, I organized individualized tours where new hires could explore their virtual workspace with a designated “office buddy.”

During one such experience, a new employee excitedly discovered shared virtual spaces and even stumbled upon a digital coffee corner for casual conversations. It turned a mundane onboarding task into a personalized journey, fostering a sense of connection.

The offbeat insight here is that navigating the virtual office becomes an adventure, creating a unique and memorable onboarding experience that goes beyond the typical orientation checklist.

Ben Richardson, Director, Acuity Training

 

4. Create an Employee Mentorship Program

People crave a vibrant work culture built on connection, professional development, and growth. Since the pandemic, we’ve created a strong mentorship program that connects protégés with mentors.

The employee-led program began as a six-month pilot facilitated by our People team. Initially, we established 32 team-member pairs, with matches based on desired skills, experience, and focus.

Participants completed a thoughtful orientation, received materials to structure and support their experience, and attended dedicated check-in points. Throughout the process, the pilot project team solicited feedback from participants to better tailor the program for future colleagues. The program concluded with a graduation where participants shared success stories with company leaders.

As a result, several team members have developed new skills and capabilities that have helped them grow and advance within the business. This low-cost program has received high praise and is now embedded into the fabric of DailyPay’s commitment to growth and development.

Jim Leahy, Head of Talent Acquisition, DailyPay

 

5. Transition to Remote Performance Reviews

Since the onset of the pandemic, our company has transitioned to a remote performance management system. This has enabled us to maintain high productivity levels while embracing the flexibility our global team values.

For particular, virtual quarterly reviews have significantly improved transparency and communication across time zones. This is successful because it aligns with our ethos of trust and autonomy, which are key factors in remote work environments.

My advice to others looking to replicate this success is to focus on clear communication strategies and ensure that all team members feel supported and connected, regardless of their location.

Lucas Botzen, Founder, Rivermate

 

6. Transform Culture with Digital Tools

The pandemic was a catalyst that led us to transform our company culture from a physical to a digital context. Because the way we work has fundamentally changed in recent years, adapting to the current situation is the most effective strategy for the long term.

For us, it is essential to leverage digital communication tools and virtual team-building activities. This has helped us enhance and support employees in remote work environments.

Change is challenging and requires time. By investing in the adaptation process, we’re demonstrating our commitment to fostering a sense of belonging across our organization. As an HR manager, I advise my peers to embrace technology to boost efficiency and support employees throughout the adoption process.

Yulia Pavlova, HR Professional and Key Partnerships Manager, Aqua Cloud

 

7. Schedule Monthly One-on-One Check-Ins

Hands down, the best strategy we introduced during COVID-19 was a regular schedule of monthly one-on-one check-ins between team leaders and their reports. When lockdowns began, we launched this to combat potential isolation and disconnection among employees and leadership.

Employees welcomed this chance to talk with managers about their existing role and performance. Many also discussed their aspirations within the company, as well as struggles or questions they weren’t sure how to bring up elsewhere.

Before the pandemic, we thought we were doing a good job of coaching and supporting employees on a day-to-day basis. But these one-on-ones took relationships to an entirely new level. We didn’t realize so many employees were eager for more coaching and direct feedback, but wanted to avoid seeming “needy” — especially fairly strong performers.

Often, those who struggle tend to get the most direct attention. That’s not really fair to people who do great work but could benefit from advice and support to perform even better, or further strengthen their skills, or expand their responsibilities so they can pursue new opportunities.

So after the lockdown ended, we continued these monthly one-on-ones for multiple reasons. And we don’t plan to stop.

My advice for other employers is to implement a six-month trial of mandatory monthly 30-60 minutes meetings. Encourage managers to talk openly with each individual about their current struggles, questions, ongoing concerns, as well as their overall career plans and future with the company. After the trial period, survey your team for feedback. If the response is neutral or negative, you may choose not to continue. But I imagine the response will be just as overwhelmingly positive as ours was.

Rob Boyle, Marketing Operations Director, Airswift

 

8. Optimize Meeting Schedules

Prior to the pandemic, our organization scheduled internal and external-facing meetings generously throughout the week. Then the pandemic arrived and everyone had to multitask. Our team members were forced to juggle work with other responsibilities — from childcare to sensitive family obligations.

When planning meetings, it became critical to consider everyone’s availability and logistics. So we started assessing which meetings should take place sooner rather than later, given the day of the week and the time of the day.

During an open discussion with staff members, we voted on the cadence of mandatory and non-mandatory meetings. We also shared our operational goals with clients, some of whom participated in helping us schedule client-facing meetings so we could improve attendance by reducing cancellations and rescheduling.

This meeting management process worked so well that we decided to continue along the same path when we moved through post-pandemic business changes.

Sasha Laghonh, Founder, Sasha Talks

 

9. Encourage Anonymous Employee Feedback

In the past, our firm was more client-focused, doing just the bare minimum to retain employees. While we have always offered fair pay and benefits, and compensated for overtime, we never made an extra effort to value our staff and earn their loyalty. Then the pandemic arrived and we lost two long-term employees within four months. It was an eye-opener that prompted me to seriously evaluate where our employee experience was lacking.

Gathering employee feedback seemed like an obvious move. When people seem unhappy, it makes sense to ask them about it instead of second-guessing and investing in costly perks that might even offend them.

I introduced an anonymous suggestion box app, and urged employees to share improvements they wished to see. Many pointed out flaws in our environment I had never considered. For example, some were concerned with excessive team meetings that disrupted their workflow. Others felt burdened by the expectation that they needed to respond to work emails, even after hours.

This prompted me to start making improvements. Rather than asking the team to gather for meetings about every small issue, I implemented a weekly “summary meeting” on Fridays. Also, I initiated a strict “unplug after hours” policy so both managers and employees would engage in work-related communication only during business hours.

I still review suggestions from the app each week and address them in team meetings. When a majority of employees agree with a suggestion, I try to make changes that address their concerns. We also use the platform to collect votes on perks, such as team events and holiday gifts. Also, we ask for input, when making business decisions that affect the team. Because the app ensures anonymity, I think it encourages more people to speak candidly.

Right now, everyone on our staff has been at our firm for at least a year, and I believe this is largely due to changes we’ve made in our people strategy. It’s essential for team members to feel heard. Giving them a voice and addressing their input is the key to improving your employee experience in meaningful ways.

Joe Coletta, Founder and CEO, 180 Engineering

 

10. Streamline PTO Policies for Better Rest

Previously, my recruiting firm offered unlimited PTO. This kind of time-off policy seems impressive, but actually, it was so vague that employees relied on senior staff to define how many vacation days they should take. Then COVID struck and as General Manager, this half-guilty, half-confused situation became apparent to me. Even when workers were already working from home, they felt guilted into “coming in” online.

Since the PTO policy was causing employees to take fewer-than-standard days off and was negatively affecting morale, we adjusted our model. It is still based on unlimited PTO and requires five weeks’ prior notice when anyone plans to be away for more than five consecutive days. But now, everyone must take at least four weeks off each year. In addition, we’ve added a one-week company-wide shutdown at year-end, since business is naturally slower during the holidays.

This change has enabled employees to enjoy their vacations guilt-free and I’ve noticed that the team is happier and more productive. For employers who want to improve their people strategy, I recommend first ensuring that their staff is well-rested. If not, encourage them to take breaks with policies such as mandatory time off.

Ben Lamarche, General Manager, Lock Search Group

 

11. Develop a Strong Employer Brand

In our post-pandemic world, Gen Z employees and others are increasingly conscious of their organization’s commitment to social responsibility. Meanwhile, social media continues to play a prominent role in our daily lives. This is why one of the most effective people strategies we have implemented focuses on developing and maintaining a strong employer brand.

We believe a compelling employer brand is our most effective recruitment tool. It can also help us transform employees into passionate advocates for our company. This is why we showcase our culture and employee successes on social channels.

By integrating this strategy into our culture, we’re doing more than creating a plan. We’re building a vibrant ecosystem where our people thrive and our business can prosper.

Oliver Cordingley, Founder, OurGen

 

12. Intensify Focus on DEI Initiatives

As a cybersecurity recruitment portal, we intensified our focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) across all aspects of our operations during the pandemic. We were driven by our belief that diverse teams are more innovative and adept at solving complex, multifaceted cybersecurity problems.

This strategy extended to bias training, hiring practices, and other changes that ensure every voice is heard and valued. Not only did it enhance our team’s creativity and problem-solving capabilities, but also significantly improved employee engagement and retention.

My advice for organizations looking to mirror this success is to integrate DEI genuinely into the fabric of your organization. Reach beyond superficial measures to ensure that your commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in your hiring practices, team-building activities, leadership training, and every facet of employee engagement. Ultimately, this creates a more innovative culture that improves employee satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

Amit Doshi, Founder and CEO, MyTurn


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