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Permanent Practices

Team Management Trends for Businesses Emerge from Pandemic

Michigan State University Federal Credit Union is one of many Greater Lansing business that found opportunity in a crisis, with COVID-19 workarounds creating greater efficiencies and options for managers and employees alike.

The East Lansing-based financial institution started allowing many of its employees to work from home because the coronavirus pandemic resulted in a “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order from Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer mandating it. But post-pandemic, MSUFCU may keep that option because of its success.

“We are currently working on policies and practices to allow for remote work in the future, likely in a hybrid capacity for types of work where this is optimal,” said Silvia Dimma, MSUFCU’s chief human resource officer. “Through the pandemic, we have learned that there is an interest in remote work from our teams, and that it can be a productive option in many cases.”

Author Jay Hawreluk is the CEO of Michigan-based AcuMax Index, a psychometric testing solution built to help employers recruit and develop teams in the most effective and efficient manner. Hawreluk said he expects both remote work and using tools to better understand how employees work best to be growing trends in the post-pandemic world.

“I expect remote working to continue, and the use of psychometrics — evaluations of potential employees — to continue to grow,” he said.  “I think businesses are probably going to be looking for many types of efficiencies, especially over the remainder of this year, as they try to move back into profitability, grow and expand.”

At the height of pandemic-related shutdowns, MSUFCU had as many as three of every four of its 900-plus employees working from home. While that ratio is likely to decrease in a post-pandemic world, the option will remain in some form or fashion.

“We are evaluating equipment needs for a remote strategy, skill sets and training of our team, interest level, types of work that can be completed remotely, and ensuring we can continue to build upon a culture of connection and community with this new arrangement,” Dimma said.

Plus, MSUFCU has used virtual interviews, online career fairs and other digital networking tools.

“These approaches allow for greater flexibility in who can attend, regardless of geographic location, and will be useful in the future,” Dimma said. “This could also open up new locations for us to recruit and hire in the future.

“As an organization, we have focused more and more on mental health, self-care and rest to promote the well-being of employees. We know that this need is amplified by — but not exclusive to — a pandemic scenario,” she added. “Our hope is to continue these conversations and provide support to employees on these topics on an ongoing basis.”

Other companies are taking a wait-and-see approach. At General Motors, which has a pair of mid-Michigan auto manufacturing plants in Lansing and Delta Township, pandemic-prompted workplace changes have included:

  • Temperature screenings and health questionnaires when entering facilities.
  • New safety signage and sanitation stations throughout facilities.
  • Increased use of video conferencing and crowd limits in meeting spaces.
  • Use of masks and goggles when social distancing isn’t possible.
  • Propping open doors to increase ventilation in workspaces.
  • Safety protocols to be followed when visiting non-GM facilities.

“The processes we have in place will change over time based on practical experience, employee input and the science behind managing the spread of COVID-19,” said Erin Davis, a GM communications manager. “Until there is a cure or a vaccine, we can’t let our guard down, and it’s too soon to say exactly what the workplace safety protocols might look like post-pandemic.”


Hiring By Hardwiring

The coronavirus pandemic didn’t create demand for psychometric assessments as much as it sped up a trend toward scientifically appraising current and potential employees.

Even before COVID-19 spurred socially distant job interviews, the percentage of U.S employers using digital personality assessments was at 13% and growing, according to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Such assessments use situational questions to “measure innate human hardwiring … It tells me the environment that you best thrive within: how you value ideas, how you communicate, how you process thoughts, your unique work style and how you make decisions,” said Jay Hawreluk, author and CEO of AcuMax Index, a Michigan-based psychometric assessment provider.

“When you work to align your employees and teams based on their hardwiring, they’re more satisfied, they’re more productive, they enjoy their work more — and the whole organization wins,” he said.