Two years post-pandemic, we are seeing a return to normal as employees gradually return to the workplace. Yet leaders are seeing new realities and challenges related to people retention and wellness, with many experiencing the “great resignation”. How do we turn this situation into a catalyst for organizational change and transformation? We looked to local and global experts to provide insight around how to pivot the people strategy to maintain performance and secure sustainable recovery and growth.
In the last decade, local and global business leaders have recognized the equal importance of establishing a sound people strategy to ensure an organization's business strategies are brought to life. This is even more true for more digital-forward organizations whose people-first mindset have been recognized as a critical success factor for digital transformation.
This is of note because the events following the onset of the COVID-19 virus have triggered the need for companies to revisit their business strategies, business models and work modalities. As companies review strategies around business, a review of people strategy is of equal importance.
Four Phases of Organizational Pandemic Response and Recovery
Over the past 24+ months, companies have been going through what experts call the four stages of pandemic response and recovery—React, Respond, Redesign and Redefine.
Retrospective: Learnings from 2 years of disruption
In a retrospective exercise done with local and global experts, we emerged four key learnings from the prolonged disruption. These learnings were underpinned by the basic insight that in a crisis and change scenario, you go back to basics and the foundations of an organization must be solid to survive. As we plan for the future, a review of these learnings and the organization's foundations will be critical to establishing the right strategy for our people.
Organizational Challenges in the Redesign and Redefine Stage
In addition to these learnings, global experts who are ahead of us in this recovery journey, warn of three challenges and considerations in the Redesign and Rebuild Stage.
Challenge 1: Revisiting our beliefs given the new employee realities to protect and strengthen culture
This will become a challenge because increased employee fragmentation and unconscious bias are expected by products of the prolonged pressure and many changes. Because of this fragmentation, policies are no longer one size fits all: pandemic triggered a “humanization” of the employee and a significant divergence of needs and motivations.
As a company, the impetus is to emerge the right beliefs, values and norms that will cultivate the culture needed. How do we do this?
LISTEN DEEPLY: Have a deep understanding different employee needs and drivers of employees from different life domains.
Once we understand, we need to REFLECT AND REVIEW what matters to the company, what matters to employees and what that means for your current belief system.
Challenge 2: Finding the balance between wellness and productivity given the new work modalities
This will be challenge is because it is no longer one size fits all and because of the emergence and abundance of virtual roles, this has a created new career paths and opportunities for many. Companies will need to be intentional in developing their Employee Value proposition to acquire and retain talent. This is particularly important with the wave of the “great resignation”. What is needed?
A STRONG FOCUS ON EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE: Productivity comes with engagement and employee satisfaction
LISTEN OFTEN Initiating more frequent dialogue with employees given how dynamic the situation is
PROVIDE OPTIONS Personalization of Benefits and providing the option to create bespoke wellness assistance programs are becoming more common
AIM FOR SUSTAINABLE PRODUCTIVITY Need to remove pressure to be productive everywhere and set teams to succeed in the new normal
Challenge 3: Defining and building the team of the future—employee, leader, manager—finding the right mix for your human capital to ensure business performance
This poses a challenge because of two things. First, everything is evolving. While role names may be the same, expectations, ways of working and skill sets needed to succeed are not. And secondly, in this empowered and hybrid workplace, where there is little interaction beyond the immediate team, it will be the middle or line manager that will spell the difference between engagement and attrition.
To address this, we must set teams up to succeed. Reassess, Retool, Reskill
REASSESS The new ways of working and value delivery will require a review of the organization’s design criteria and structure to ensure teams are set up effectively to support the new strategies and plans.
RETOOL and RESKILL, DELIBERATELY As roles and expectations evolve, so must people’s capabilities. Soft skills related to managing change and flexibility such as intellectual curiosity, critical thinking, strategic decision making, innovation, communication and collaboration will be must-haves moving forward. This needs to be done mindfully so that they help rather than burden teams
Organizational Agility will be key
As a final note, in designing the workplace of the future, keep in mind that having an agile people strategy is equally critical as having an agile business strategy/plan. Redesigning policies, the workplace and workplace etiquette will be a continuous trajectory rather than complete inflection. Having a test, learn, adapt mindset will be important in this journey of transformation for everyone.
About the Authors Anny Oliveros and Cherry Tantoco-Daniels
Anny Oliveros heads Acumen's Knowledge and Intellectual Property Development Center. She is a certified Agile practitioner and has had over 15 years of experience in Business, Strategic Planning, Marketing, Sales and Capability Building both locally and in South East Asia building global and local brands.
Cherry Tantoco-Daniels heads Acumen's Organizational Transformation practice area. She brings over 30 years of multinational expertise in Management Consulting, Marketing and Brand Management, Teaching, and Training across Asia, Europe, and the United States. Cherry is deeply dedicated to unleashing a positive climate for change by skillfully aligning leadership and organizations toward the achievement of their purpose and ambitions.