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Workforce Resiliency During Disaster: Three Key Tips

Strategies for Crisis Management, Disaster Recovery, and Skills-Based Economic Recovery

No matter what kind of crisis or disaster comes your community’s way (and 2020 has brought many), there are steps you can take to build the resiliency you need and hone the skills and flexibility that will keep your economy thriving.

Here are three techniques for keeping your community resilient, followed by resources to help you along the way.

1. Promote holistic skills to give your community an advantage.

With six decades of helping communities find success, ACT has long known there’s no one path toward a great career or a happy life.

That said, we’ve learned that there are key skills and capabilities that everyone needs to be ready for work. The ACT Holistic Framework––based on decades of robust data about career readiness––shows that it’s not just academic skills and field-specific knowledge that lead to success.

Instead, it’s cross-cutting capabilities like critical thinking and collaborative problem-solving––along with social and emotional skills like self-knowledge, sustaining effort, and keeping an open mind––that can help people thrive even when times are difficult. Mastering these skills allows people to pivot and grow.

What does this mean for community leaders? Thinking holistically about how to develop your workforce will help you promote a community where job applicants are more likely to have the broad range of skills and abilities that organizations are looking for. You may also need to debunk some myths about skills and skills-based hiring in your community. For more about this, listen to our myth-busting episode of the ACT Ready for Work podcast.

2. Develop tech capabilities for remote and flexible work options.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many employers have had to adjust quickly to remote or hybrid work. Many companies and organizations are exploring new ways of making sure their employees are safe, connected, and productive. It hasn’t always been easy, but it has expanded ideas of how and where work can be done. And this has led to some creative thinking about technology and the ways it can promote growth and positive economic outcomes, even through unpredictable and challenging times.

In fact, of the eight skills Forbes calls out as key for success in a post-pandemic world, four are explicitly technology-related. “Whether you work in a factory or an accounting office in a post-coronavirus world,” writes business strategist Bernard Marr, “you need to be comfortable with these tech tools as well as be able to work with them effectively.”

This advice goes both for individuals and the organizations where they work. Smart, strategic investment in training and tech capabilities can help offset losses in productivity due to the pandemic. It can also lead to new, interesting possibilities for growth, both during the disaster and beyond.

3. Foster adaptability in an uncertain world.

Every crisis or disaster is different. The tools that help you manage one crisis may not work for another. A natural disaster response, for example, will call for different resources and processes than a pandemic or a security threat.

But there is one thing that can always help: adaptability.

Adaptability can take many forms––the specifics will depend on your local community, your workforce, and the key industries in your area. Whether it’s developing hybrid models so your staff can work from home or onsite; gathering data to better understand your community’s different capabilities; implementing stackable credentialing programs that allow employees to shift roles and even industries throughout their careers; or any other number of initiatives, there are so many ways to support an adaptive workforce so you can weather any crisis that comes along.

One great resource for leaders looking to promote adaptability in their communities is Strategic Doing, a book about agile leadership, forming collaborations quickly, and making adjustments along the way. We sat down with Ed Morrison, author of the book, to discuss strategic workforce collaboration. Listen to the episode here.

Apply These Strategies

For more information about utilizing these workforce resiliency strategies, download our Toolkit, which includes a five-step framework to help you focus on your community and the progress you’re making towards building a truly resilient workforce ecosystem.