The world of work has changed drastically during the pandemic. The shift in labor force participation rates, changes to how people spend their time outside of work, and the changing nature of employment have all led to major shifts in the way that we live our lives and view our employers. While some changes are likely to be temporary (like workforce participation), others are more likely permanent (such as changes to the nature of employment).
To get a better understanding of how things have evolved during the pandemic, we recently hosted a panel debate with several business leaders from a variety of industries. We asked our panel 5 key questions related to the impact of COVID-19 and will be serializing this session over the coming weeks.
In this first video our panelists discuss the effects of the pandemic on the workplace, and which of these changes might be temporary and which might be permanent. To find out more about these changes to the workplace, watch the video below:
Our thanks go to our expert panel members for their time and for sharing their insights so openly:
Jenn Ryan – SVP Operations – Xometry
Douglas Krieger – Director Global Sourcing – Herbalife
Julie Bank – SVP Human Resources – Brighton Health Plan Solutions
John Rorick – VP, Client Services – AgileOne
Steve Lagnado – CFO – Insider Inc
Here are some further thoughts on the points raised during the panel discussion above.
Workers are wanting to work the hours that suit them
One of the points that emerged in our live panel debate was that people want to have greater flexibility over the hours they work. People today are demanding greater flexibility over the times and days when they work.
The old nine-to-five job is under threat. In today’s world of work people prefer more flexibility – which might include choosing days they wish to start or finish earlier than usual; as well as being able to decide which days they wish to work, perhaps flexing this depending on school holidays and other factors.
Employees want to be mentored rather than managed
Another change is that employees are being mentored rather than managed. Traditionally, managers would tell an employee what to do and the employee was expected to follow those orders. Nowadays, employees are more likely be given guidance by mentors who will offer advice but not impose it on them as they might have done before. This change has been accelerated by the pandemic and the need to trust people working remotely to be more independent and autonomous. But this shift may end up becoming permanent as it’s both welcomed by employees and has helped to foster innovation by leveraging the creativity of more staff.
A greater focus on mental health and wellbeing from leaders
Another point raised was the attention given to mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, which may not have been a concern before the pandemic. Leaders now know the importance of taking care of their employees because they recognize that if they don’t, there’s a possibility that it may reflect poorly on them.
Employees are starting to feel more comfortable with opening up about mental health issues. They’re less likely to be reprimanded for talking about how stressed or anxious they are in comparison to before when it might have been seen as a weakness to do so in the workplace.
The increased focus on employee wellbeing is also leading to changes in what benefits can be offered, such as leave time and wellness programs which includes things like yoga classes. 4-day working weeks are also increasingly talked about and being experimented with.
More trust given to workers to work autonomously
The pandemic has also seen employees being trusted more by their leaders to complete work in their own time without intensive supervision. The pandemic has forced this change, but having got a taste for it, it’s questionable whether either employees or managers will want to revert back to how things were before. Good news for those who thrive on independence but also bad news for those who prefer leaders to keep close tabs on them during the day.
Leaders fostering a more personal connection with their workers
Leaders have started to have a more personal connection with their workers as a result of the pandemic. Leaders today seem more invested in their employees and team morale than they were before the pandemic. The flip side of this is that employees also enjoy having a leader who they feel truly cares about them and their well-being.
Roles offering more flexibility to work from home
The overall job market has also changed during the pandemic, with an increased demand for jobs which can be done flexibly from home or in an office. Companies are having to adapt to this, since a sizeable shift in what employees want from their next role means that failing to adapt could see talent shortages become acute.