How Organizations can Transition to the ‘New Normal’
How Organizations can Transition to the ‘New Normal’
After 18 months of remote working and uncertainty, many organizations are starting to transition to the ‘new normal,’ being mindful of the threats of the new variants and potential future restrictions or even lockdowns. Against this backdrop, worrying reports have appeared regarding some call centre staff being monitored by their webcams whilst working from home. One important lesson a few very large companies learned in 2020 is that if they are seen not to be ethical, inclusive or interested in sustainability, then their customers will walk away and their share prices will drop. The result is that they can become a repellent for talent.
Hybrid working looks set to shape the future of work with a blend of remote and flexible working, including a new form of hot desking, as rows of workstations are replaced with more areas for ad hoc team and brainstorming meetings. So, as leaders move from being operational to more strategic and organizations restructure and implement elaborate new office layouts to be Covid-secure, it’s key to consider how to look after your most valuable resource – your human talent; here are 8 ways to do so:
1. Compassionate Leadership is required in the new normal:
With a phased return to office working, as with any Change Programme, leaders must actively listen to their teams, communicate more than ever, and be empathetic to the array of issues they could be dealing with. No one knows what the medium and long-term psychological impact of Covid-19 will be, but it is clear that many people are struggling with a sense of loss, not only of the awful tragedy of losing loved ones, but also the perceived loss of over a year of their lives, along with a range of missed opportunities.
2. Conduct Employee Engagement and Pulse Surveys to find out what your Team Members really want and think:
Often when providing Executive Coaching to leaders, who are planning transformation programmes, I will remind them to ask their teams what they think would work best in order to win over hearts and minds, as well as getting some great innovative ideas. If staff feel involved and valued then levels of presenteeism will decrease, engagement will improve, as will productivity, morale, and retention.
3. Prioritize the Health and Well-being of your Team Members:
Some reports are suggesting that almost 75% of managers are suffering from burnout after 18 months of home working, often juggling Covid emergencies with delivering the BAU and home schooling. Investing in some long-term well-being initiatives will go a long way to assisting staff, as will a carefully managed and legally compliant approach to health surveillance, such as regular updates on Covid tests and vaccine certificates.
4. Remember that ‘Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast!’
In other words, don’t invest in new glossy company visions, mission statements, and corporate strategies, which may fall on to the deaf ears of your potentially jaded workforce. Ensure that leadership and management behaviours don’t demotivate employees, but that a new culture is allowed to evolve organically. With a prevalence of temporary or fixed-term contracts in place, ensure that these individuals also feel valued within the organization as they can quickly become champions of change or creators of toxicity.
Despite employment figures improving, there is still a shortage of candidates with specialist skills, exacerbated by Brexit in the UK. Retention is therefore key; the 'Great Resignation' is predicted, as staff return from holidays looking for a change in role or career, most notably those offering flexibility.
6. More Understanding and Flexibility for Time off should be considered:
It is proven that increasing feedback will result in discretionary effort, however, your workforce is comprised of human beings not too many robots, and a few staff won’t have taken much annual leave over the past 18 months, so being mindful of not over-burdening them will be crucial to the future success of the ‘new normal’.
7. Consider Skills rather than Titles:
Reportedly almost 75% of Millennials and Generation Z are looking to join companies who will invest in their Learning and Development. Millennials make up around 50% of the workforce, which is set to grow due to the rise in redundancies amongst the over 50s. Therefore, the wants and dislikes of this generation cannot be ignored, including their desire for more flexible and remote working and a healthy work/life balance. Self-motivated workers who are agile and willing to collaborate across functions and projects are also in demand.
8. Upskill and Reskill:
Many managers and staff were redeployed at the start of the first lockdown. As a result, a lot of these individuals have shown initiative and been promoted, whereas others haven’t coped so well. Soft skills are more in demand than ever, as are skills which support collaborative working, such as team working, project management, and matrix management. As teams start to transition back to the office, fast and focused training will be required to ensure managers and teams are ready for the new future.
‘Thank you so much for your useful insights and perception. We were ploughing ahead with our transformation programme at top speed without realizing the lack of appetite for more change in an uncertain work environment. Now we’re organizing more interviews with cross-functional groups to gauge their opinions and interests first.’ HR Director
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