5 Strategies to Effectively Manage Uncertainty

Six in 10 organizations say they are effectively handling ongoing workforce disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Brandon Hall Group’s pulse survey, How Can We Improve Work? About 70% of organizations require employees to wear masks in the workplace, 55% are delaying return-to-the workplace plans and 42% are extending their current policies on remote work indefinitely. 

Even though managing day-to-day work is going reasonably well, employers are juggling several concerns, especially around maintaining performance and employee health and safety. 

Top Concerns* in Managing Ongoing Disruption 

Employers say their biggest human capital management challenges over the next six months will be retaining talent, employee engagement and acquiring new talent, though 15 distinct challenges are rated at least 3 on a 5-point scale. Organizations are pulled in many directions and most management functions present at least a moderate challenge, creating stress across organizations. 

Top 5 HCM Challenges Over the Next 6 Months 

  • How do we meet business goals as we manage ongoing disruptions and continue to adjust to a hybrid work environment? 
  • How do we retain and engage employees amid ongoing uncertainty? 

Here are five high-level strategies for managing the complex and sometimes competing challenges you face. 

Enable Frontline Leaders  to Forge Strong Connections  with Employees. 

Frontline leaders have many responsibilities but in this environment, staying closely connected to team members should be at the top of the list. Talent retention is the number-one challenge organizations face, so be sure your line managers are not so burdened with tasks that they are unable to take the pulse of their workforce and build strong relationships with them.

Focus on Inclusion. 

Thriving in a fluctuating and hybrid work environment means you need to leverage all the talent you have. HCM leaders and workforce managers should not feel they need to take on everything themselves. Involve employees in developing new ideas and solving problems. Reaching out to employees and involving them in making work the best it can be can also drive engagement and enable them to feel valued.

Leverage Collaboration Tools. 

Engagement, particularly in a hybrid and dispersed workforce, remains a concern for most organizations. Collaboration is a key driver of engagement. Most organizations say they use tools such as video and web conferencing for real-time collaboration for people working in remote locations. That’s great to see.

Make the best use of those collaboration sessions. Take actions to ensure everyone feels heard and has a chance to offer opinions or ask questions. Enable and encourage follow-up conversations through chat rooms. If action steps are given in a meeting, think about setting up working groups where small teams can forge ideas and solutions, then report back to the larger group. Also, if there are ongoing issues with the collaboration technology, such as people struggling to connect or challenges in screen-sharing, strive to get them solved promptly. Technical issues can create collaboration barriers that add to people’s frustrations. 

Give People Time to Learn. 

While a lot of work needs to get done, both leaders and their employees need to know you care about their ongoing development. In-depth learning or full-scale courses may not always be possible. But you can make self-paced eLearning and microlearning offerings available or encourage people to access webinars related to their work and aspirations. 

Whenever possible, give leaders and employees time to practice new skills and connect with colleagues who have skills or capabilities that are of interest. This sends the message that you are doing what you can to help them grow in their current roles and preparing for future roles. 

“Recruit” Your Employees. 

Work can’t be all about the here and now. Employees should know there are growth opportunities, even if they are not immediate. Ensure managers hold regular check-ins with employees and that they include discussions about their aspirations — not just about moving into a new job but ways they would like to contribute their talents, such as in special projects or teams, work committees, company volunteer efforts, ERGs or affinity groups. 

Talking to employees about opportunities is a way of “recruiting” them to stick with you amid the chaos. It also gives managers a chance to assess flight risk and address possible issues before they become insurmountable.

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.