As flights and airports the world over are shut down in a bid to stem the global COVID-19 pandemic, airlines are having to lay staff off just to stay afloat. Singapore Airlines (SIA) has set a creative example in staff retention amid the Corona Virus outbreak.
Instead of serving passengers on a plane, 30 cabin crew members will be caring for patients in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). They are the first batch of now grounded cabin crew to be redeployed as "care ambassadors" in KTPH. According to reports, they will be assigned to non Covid related low-risk wards to carry out basic caregiving procedures, nutritional care as well as patient service management. This is a novel way of not only ensuring that cabin crew still have a job but will also help alleviate the pressure medical staff are currently under as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.
Job retention aside, there are also mutual skill exchange benefits and an opportunity for both medical staff and cabin crew to learn something new. As Ms Shirley Heng, chief nurse at KTPH, was quoted as saying: "This is also a good opportunity for our nurses to exchange knowledge and skills on service with the crew of SIA, who are top service professionals."
SIA's job retention innovation and KTPH's openness at trying something new to alleviate pressures on its staff is a show of great leadership on both ends. Both industries had problems – one with a staff well trained at hospitality with nothing to do and bills to pay while the other had a staff that is facing the gargantuan task of looking after COVID-19 patients. Instead of simply laying off staff (where SIA is concerned) or allowing staff to be needlessly overworked (in KTPH's case), both industries are exploring new ways to solve each other's problems.
As business leaders in unprecedented times, your ability to think boldly outside the box may mean the difference between survival or not. As an employer, you also owe a duty of care to your employees. Even as your business may be struggling, they still have bills to pay and are wholly dependent on the paycheck you pay them.
Are you looking around for ways to redeploy your employees so that:
1. You don't end up losing all of your trained staff at this point (only to have to re recruit after the crisis ends) ; and
2. Your staff is able to remain on the payroll and earn a living without you having to fork out additional money?
A little bit of creative leadership could make all the difference here.
As human beings, we have an innate capacity to be creative, to put things together in new and novel ways. And yet, this capacity is often weakened or hard to reach because the mind is over-taxed with internal and external distractions.
Those courageous enough to propose an idea still have hoops to jump through. For example, if you work in a large corporation, you may have to go through immense red tape and bureaucracy to answer questions like "Can you prove to the CFO how this will generate an immediate return?" or, "Will the CEO like this?"
In a smaller company, it may be easier to make decisions but then it boils down to questions like: who shall execute these steps of re-deployment and new business undertakings? Are we able to be financially committed to these new changes and still keep the return on our investments intact?
How flexibly and mindfully are leaders and business owners approaching the Covid 19 challenges?
It is an intrinsic motivation that explains so much of the heroism and innovation we are seeing around the world today, fuelled