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PODCAST: How to stay focused while working through another Covid surge

Written on Jan 20, 2022

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager 

As the Omicron variant has caused new levels of uncertainty in recent weeks, OSCPA President and CEO Scott Wiley, CAE, said the last thing business leaders should do is overreact. 

Scott Wiley smiling for the camera.“Steady as we go,” Wiley said. “The initial uncertainty when this started in 2020 has subsided. And by and large, the business community has navigated how to handle and manage and work through the impacts of COVID-19 by putting their people first. And certainly, we've seen that in our profession.” 

Wiley joined the State of Business podcast this week to discuss what this latest variant means for businesses and how both leaders and employees can provide value during this challenging time. Being adaptable while also offering grace right now can go a long way, he said.  

“We are taking the best information we have and trying to make informed decisions,” Wiley said. “We’re trying to be transparent about that with our team, trying to take their input, and to extend and continue to give grace, while recognizing we will make mistakes. And when we make them, we're going do our best to recognize and learn from them.” 

While the rise in cases and number of people who are unable to work because they’ve gotten COVID has been frustrating for employees and businesses alike, leaders making rash decisions will only increase that frustration. Wiley said that focusing on understanding your business’s core competencies is essential to being agile. This allows the team, in moments of stress and uncertainty, to know the best place to focus their efforts to still make an impact for the organization. 

Leaders need to be intentional with how they spend their time, Wiley said, and not to be afraid to say no to projects that don’t serve the business. While it’s valuable to pay attention to trends, it’s not helpful to switch priorities every few months just because something new has become popular. 

Another key part of working through the Omicron surge is taking time to rest and recuperate, Wiley said. Navigating in a pandemic environment can be draining. Encouraging your team members to take time off to rest and recharge is vital to their well-being during this challenging time. 

“We need to figure out how we can be well enough emotionally, psychologically, physically, to train ourselves to power through,” Wiley said. “Part of that is our overall health. Another part of that is knowing that it's okay to push pause and say, ‘I need to tap out for a little bit; I need to catch my breath.’ Truly recognize when to take time away and take time off, and no one knows that better than yourself.” 

Hear more from Scott next week on Jan. 27 at this month’s Town Hall, where he welcomes guest speaker Lt. Governor Jon Husted, who will provide an overview of state workforce initiatives. Register here.