The COVID-19 pandemic has caused suffering and disruption for businesses and society but the aftermath of the lock down may turn out to be an opportune moment for workers.
A widespread shift in organizational structures towards less hierarchical models and more equitable policies has been accelerated. As businesses reopen, managers will find themselves in workplace settings where employees have more say in how they work.
When businesses closed in the spring of 2020, staff quickly adjusted to remote work. Generally, companies found the process went better than expected and productivity did not suffer. This success has given the upper hand to employees who had been asking their organizations for more flexible work arrangements. As the pandemic recedes, management will assess which positions can be performed either fully or partly from home and work closely with human resources to create flexibility in scheduling, extend employee assistance programs and institute time off for those who need it.
Health and safety is a paramount concern in the post-lock down workplace. For customer-facing employees in retail, health care, law enforcement and public service, there is an even greater emphasis on personal protection for both employees and clients. Management will need to take concerns from workers seriously and know what is expected of them by law to protect their staff and the public.
Concern over health and safety extends to mental health. Managers will need enhanced interpersonal skills more than ever in order to approach their role with empathy and understanding. Stress around the pandemic will affect everyone differently, and stigma surrounding anxiety and mental illness must be addressed and eliminated. Managers will need to let employees know their workplace cares.
Corporate leadership has long entertained concepts like “agility”, “sideways hierarchy” and “worker empowerment”, with some taking them more seriously than others. Now will be the time for leaders to put into practice the ideals they have admired in theory and look to less centralized and hierarchical organizational models. This new mindset will filter down to management, who will seek to empower employees more. An enhanced focus on social justice means policies regarding discrimination and harassment will be emphasized. Workers need to know the codes of behaviour in effect, and that complaints about misconduct will be taken seriously.
Workplaces will look much different as pandemic restrictions lift and possibly lead to a whole new paradigm of professional life. Moving forward, managers will need an empathetic and supportive leadership style as people adjust to new realities; this will only intensify into the future. The goal is a more efficient and humanized workplace.
Managers can enhance and develop the skills needed for success in the new workplace through these upcoming Schulich ExecEd courses:
As managers’ responsibilities become more complex and demand the involvement of more people, it is essential they explore alternate methods to motivate staff. This people management training program has been designed to allow current managers to develop new leadership and behaviour styles that can accommodate this changing environment.
Date: Oct. 21-23, 2020
In today’s disruptive times, tapping into the potential of your people by creating more agile and productive teams, and developing sustainable collaborative practices all across the organization is critical for high performance and success. This three-day program will help you create and foster a culture of collaboration and innovation where people work together effectively in teams to solve business problems.
Date: Oct. 5-7, 2020
Advanced leadership, employee engagement and motivational techniques that deliver to your bottom-line – if you direct a growing workforce, it is imperative to develop the leadership skills that exceptional managers use to motivate and engage staff to achieve performance levels that they might not have thought possible.
Date: Nov. 19-20, 2020