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Navigating the COVID-19 outbreak

6 months ago by Ali Kimmorley

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Director Ali Kimmorley was recently interviewed by Grace McLean, CEO of NFP Connect. The organisation exists to support those working for and with local not for profits through education, networking and shared experiences. Ali is an active Volunteer with charities Camp Quality and Harry’s House, and was approached by Grace to discuss the key challenges and learnings she has experienced as the Director of peoplefusion during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grace: How has your organisation had to change through COVID-19?

Ali: peoplefusion has been impacted in a number of ways. Our team are all working-from-home and meeting up twice daily on Microsoft Teams to ensure we remain visually connected, and to help each other stay motivated.  As Recruiters, we all enjoy being around people so it’s important to keep up what motivates us best. We are also conducting client meetings and candidate interviews via Zoom, Skype and Facetime.

When it comes to working with our clients on recruitment projects, we have been assisting with onboarding new hires in ways that most ever have never done before. Mostly by using platforms like Microsoft Teams given so many businesses now have a work-from-home workforce. In many scenarios this has been positive for productivity, as it is driving businesses to extract information out of employees heads and onto paper in order to be accessed by new employees and existing employees working-from-home.

Another area of change is that many of our temporary employees are working-from-home for their host employer. We are conducting regular check-ins to maintain motivation and on their wellbeing during this time to make sure they are doing okay. Particularly for those temps who live alone.  We are also doing this via the likes of Zoom and Facetime so we can be a face and not just a voice.

Grace: What have you learned or are learning? 

Ali: The biggest lesson or realisation to date for me is that COVID-19 has been an equaliser, and finally people are realising that it is okay to show vulnerability in business.  I’m a believer in us, as individuals, showing vulnerability as I feel that we could learn so much from each other and support each other a whole lot more if we let our guards down more often. I feel like COVID-19 has helped people to see that it’s okay to say when you’re not okay, and that you definitely do need to ‘shoot the breeze’ with like-minded peers in order to find solutions. To me, that is both on a business and personal front.    

Grace: Have you found any good programs, support systems or resources that have helped? 

Ali: Without a doubt I’m finding myself stopping and reading resources like never before.  I’m the first to admit that in the rush of normal business, I often park these things to the side and don’t always get around to reading them. The difference now is that I am actually taking the time to stop and read. Our member organisation the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association (RCSA) has been excellent with their distribution of resource material and I’ve made sure I’ve let them know how much we appreciate it.  I would have to say our friends in business have also been an exceptional support network.  We are all checking in on each other and sharing ideas regularly, which has been really humbling.  I’ve noticed we are all going through different emotional and business cycles as we manoeuvre our way through the pandemic. Rather than wallowing in the negatives, which is so easy to do, there are days where someone else is the positive one for me and other days me for them.

Grace: What is the hardest thing about working-from-home? What could make it easier, more effective and more productive for you? 

Ali: For me this is week four working-from-home and I must say, the first two weeks I was terrible. I was all over the shop.  Going into week two I realised there was something I had stopped doing and that was planning my days out through my diary. My set appointments for interviews and clients meetings were in there but other key activities were not scheduled. My productivity was out the window and I was working until 8pm or 9pm most nights.  I took the time to plan out my week and have now managed to get back into my diary routine which has resulted in being more productive again. 

Grace: What is your advice for charities and other organisations trying to get through this? 

Ali: My advice would be to reach out to clients/donors and simply find out how they are doing during COVID-19.What impact has it had on their business? Show you care. This first and foremost will mean the world to them that the relationship is more than what donations they may give you during normal business times. Secondly to this, the conversation may uncover how you can work differently together for a period of time. An example may be that they can’t continue to sponsor your organisation but instead can provide you with volunteering hours as their team members aren’t as busy. This way your two organisations will continue to be connected into the future and when their business is financially stable again the dollars will follow.

The other important advice I could provide is to spend this time wisely by improving or working on all of those projects that we never get around to when we are running a million miles an hour. It might be fine-tuning sponsorship or event plans for fundraising, creating templates ready to promote future events, cleaning up your database of potential donors/sponsors. Write a list of these things you wish you could make better, prioritise them, diarise when you can spend time on it and work your way through ticking them off. 

Grace: What has been a blessing that you’ve notice come from this?

Ali: What a great question!  As challenging as this time is, I’m seeing the silver lining for getting on top of those things that we never get to – both as a Business Owner, at home and personally.  I have a high tendency for saying yes to too many things, and the past few weeks I have reflected on how much I haven’t been in control of my own life. I’ve allowed many other things to control it. I have really enjoyed taking a step back, making time for family, friends and clients to check in, and listening to what is going on for other people rather than rushing from one thing to the next. I have also been reflecting on whether we have been complicating things beyond what is actually necessary. I am enjoying the simplicity!