The Covid-19 pandemic marked a huge shift in society. The pandemic started a domino effect of cultural changes that we can observe in our relations, work, and social services.
Research by the Oxford Press on adapting to the ‘new normal’ notes that the changes we’ve endured — work from home, parents homeschooling their children, lockdown, and quarantine — may become permanent parts of our public health policies, economies, and societies post-pandemic. For businesses especially, this could mean periods of adjustment.
Adapting to a new era can be difficult, and leaders, in particular, are responsible for making sense of all the chaos. So, what things have true leaders learned from the past two years of the pandemic? We’ve outlined a few big lessons below.
Flexibility is necessary
To face adversity is to stay resilient and meet the needs of new niches. The pandemic has underlined the finality of the digital age, and the global policy forum OECD notes the governmental efforts to incorporate these emerging digital technologies, such as AI, blockchain, and 5G infrastructure, in different industries.
Many new companies and industries are stepping in to lead this new era. Virtual care emerged as a field of note, with providers stepping up to the plate. Telehealth platform Wheel presents a pathway for modern healthcare that addresses the needs of physicians who want more flexibility and better control of their time. At the same time, the integrated services deliver seamless care to patients that scale on demand.
Adapting to take control of new niches like Wheel and other companies have been doing shows creativity and can set you apart from the crowd. This flexibility is crucial for success, especially in the new normal.
Accommodate digital tools
Incorporating digital tools in the everyday work set-up is now imperative, as remote working is the best option for those looking for more flexibility. This could be parents needing to spend time with their children or employers hoping to minimize office costs.
A common threat with remote work is the lack of communication. However, Raj Choudhury from HBR explains how the tech tool Slack is a productivity enhancer that allows companies to maintain organizational processes like coordination or socialization online. Workers find that they perform better when paired with other digital platforms like Zoom or Google Docs. Studies have already shown big companies are considering a permanent WFH set-up even after the pandemic, after the increase in productivity from remote work.
Trust in your team
It is easy to overthink when faced with unfamiliar situations. During the pandemic, many leaders reported a tendency to micromanage their employees out of fear of a dip in performance.
However, a lack of trust affects productivity and leads to a breakdown in employee autonomy and perceived competence. It’s far better to exercise transparency and open communication instead. Begin to trust in the recruitment stage by hiring employees who share your values, and build on this as you work towards mutual goals.
Appreciation is important
Burnout was common during the pandemic and, when left unaddressed, can affect employee retention. This longstanding issue has already snowballed into the global phenomenon known as the Great Resignation.
It is crucial to acknowledge every victory because this recognizes progress toward goals. This, in turn, would motivate employees to accomplish their tasks further. In our previous post, I explained about staff appreciation and how this can be as simple as checking in or providing more time to accomplish work. Doing so makes employees feel more relaxed, which in turn will boost their performance.
Learning shouldn’t stop.
Another common reason for switching jobs under the Great Resignation was the search for career growth and development. More companies realize that learning and development (L&D) is a continuous experience that humans crave and need, especially in times of crisis.
With 76% of employees saying that they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, Forbes reports an increased budget for training from 67% of HR managers as of 2022. Leaders recognize how L&D training has become a competitive differentiator, and in the next five years, this will only lead to a stronger focus on mental health and diversity training.
Crises are when good leadership must step in and pave the way by highlighting resilience, recovery, and restructuring. Collectively, these challenges can be transformed into opportunities for a brighter and stronger future.