The global COVID-19 crisis has already transformed the world of work, with much of its impact still unfolding. As the situation continues to develop and the road to recovery is expected to be a long one, business leaders and professionals must adapt and be agile to the challenges that are presented to them on a daily basis, with valuable lessons to be learned along the way.

With the majority of China having exited its lockdown period, albeit with some restrictions still in place, 
Simon Lance, Managing Director for Hays Greater China, recently shared valuable insights from the last four months on episode 16 of the Hays Worldwide Leadership Insights podcast, which features business leaders from across the world sharing their expertise to help leaders effectively lead their organisations.

As part of the podcast, Simon shared three key priorities that business leaders can consider going forward: 

1.    Employee wellbeing is paramount: When it comes to strategic priorities, Simon believes that one of the biggest challenges businesses are facing at this time is retaining talent in a difficult market and helping them cope with what is undoubtedly a stressful and unsettling period in their own careers.

“My advice would be to really point all of your energies on taking care of the best talent that you have in the organisation, engaging them, considering their own wellness and mental health and general stress levels, and just making sure that they see a secure, confident future ahead with the company,” he says.

2.    Learn from other regions: With China being the first country in the world to go into the crisis and come out of it, Simon advises businesses to learn from their international colleagues and take the opportunity to be better prepared for any further disruption as well as recovery. 

“I think it’s really going to vary considerably between location and industry sector, but having a return to work plan that is based on learns from colleagues or other businesses around the world is really important. I would be looking at different business models and different industry sectors and just trying to tease out what has become best practice at each progressive stage of disruption and recovery around the world,” he says. 

3.    Communication is key: Once businesses have a plan in place, Simon believes the next critical step is ensuring these plans are cascaded effectively by getting full engagement across leadership teams and general staff. 

“For CEOs or business leaders, the need to be much more visible and talking to their general staff more frequently about what is going on (in the organisation and in the world), is really important. Having that clear, frequent and open communication from the executive down to general staff has also been a real key learn for me.” 

4.    Digital disruption is here to stay: Continued digital disruption and the proliferation of remote working in the wake of COVID-19 is “highly likely, if not a certainty,” says Simon. 

“I think the world of work has moved well beyond the completion of tasks or general workspace tasks that can now all be done remotely. This shift is creating some positive discussions here in China about what the overall purpose is for a physical working space and leading to some more interesting theories around innovation or collaboration, team culture and emotional support.”

Simon concludes with some reassuring advice for businesses around the world. “I would tell leaders to take it a little bit slow and in doing so, give yourself and your teams a little bit of time to understand what the market really is. I think it’s highly unlikely that the return to full working mode will be smooth for any country; but as part of that, there will be risks and opportunities that I think people should be prepared to discover first and then make the most of. My advice based on our own experience here and the organisations that I deal with in China has been to really empower and take care of your key people.”

To listen to the full podcast or read the full transcript, please click here  


About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is a leading global professional recruiting group. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK and Asia Pacific and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe and Latin America. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2019 the Group employed 11,600 staff operating from 266 offices in 33 countries across 20 specialisms. For the year ended 30 June 2019:

– the Group reported net fees of £1,129.7 million and operating profit (pre-exceptional items) of £248.8 million;

– the Group placed around 81,000 candidates into permanent jobs and around 254,000 people into temporary assignments;

– 18% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 27% in Germany, 23% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 32% in Rest of World (RoW);

– the temporary placement business represented 57% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 43% of net fees;

– Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, the UK and the USA