5 Things 2020 Has Taught Us: A Positive Checklist
2020 was a year of many challenges. The pandemic has thrown several obstacles in the path of companies and employees alike, but the resulting perseverance has led to the development of a new hybrid work culture, a higher reliance on digital workspaces, and a renewed outlook towards work-life balance! While a lot of the global workforce gladly left 2020 behind, there were certain key realisations. Here are 5 positive things that the past year taught us - Learnings that we must use to create a healthier work environment, build a holistic organisational culture and sustain a robust talent management system.
The importance of personal growth
Cutting down on travel time and having the opportunity to work from home has given people a chance to focus on their personal growth and development. With new-found space to immerse oneself in fresh and exciting projects, many chose to venture into new hobbies, to reconnect with their families, friends, and pets, or to embark on a journey of self-discovery. Many people also took this as an opportunity to reassess their career path and explore new possibilities.
Lesson for employers: Encourage your team to invest time and energy in their personal growth. Work can be an important part of life, but it’s up to people leaders to make sure that it doesn’t become the only part of life.
The renewed focus on work-life balance
Over the years, the HR community began to move away from the concept of a work-life balance and started emphasising the need for an integration or a blend. With the pandemic bringing office work to a standstill and entire populations moving to a remote working model, people across the world began to realise that blending the personal and professional was proving unhealthy. As boundaries blurred, work-hours soared and Zoom fatigue set in, employers and employees both have acknowledged that it is time to bring back the idea of a healthy work-life balance.
Lesson for employers: Understand that burn-out is very real, and that your employees might stretch themselves thin for a while, but in the long run, this will adversely affect productivity. It’s time to redraw the boundaries that have blurred the world over.
The key is employee engagement
With most employees settling into the work from home routine during the pandemic, organisations had a tougher year than ever to figure out how to keep their workforce engaged. This called for a shift in employee management on behalf of team leaders, to craft new, innovative mechanisms to ensure morale and productivity remained high throughout the lockdown period. While corporate team building activities will never quite fade from relevance, remote-working called for a deeper look into engagement. From virtual team lunches to online concerts, HR teams have overturned the meaning and scope of employee engagement in 2020!
Lesson for employers: If there is anything that working from home taught us, it is that people need some degree of companionship and a sense of belonging. For people-leaders, it’s important not to take this fact for granted. Even as the workforce bounces back, continue to liaison with HR teams or even an HR consultancy firm, to consistently come up with newer and more innovative ways to improve the employee experience.
The indispensable nature of empathy
With employees working from home, many team members have, fortunately or unfortunately, seen the living conditions of their colleagues. Whether it’s providing care for children and aging parents, or having to balance work and household responsibilities, this phase has given people the opportunity to build perspective and grow empathetic in the process. Bringing in a refreshed outlook, today’s workforce is much more likely to be compassionate about their colleagues’ lives and obligations, thus building stronger interpersonal relationships at the workplace!
Lesson for employers: Whether or not you share the same workspace with your team, empathy will always be the way to go as a people-leader. Not only does this allow people to feel secure and increase your approachability, it also sets an example for people to actively practice empathy with their peers.
The chance to reduce our carbon footprint
Working from home has helped reduce the carbon footprint and has significantly reduced global pollution levels. With a reduced load on transportation systems, there has been a noticeable drop in the emissions of greenhouse gases worldwide. State-enforced lockdowns in many nations across the globe have brought the largest ever fall in annual carbon emissions, say scientists at CarbonBrief, and with these changes, it has become clear that some of the damage done by the human populace is indeed reversible.
Lesson for employers: Sustainability does not always have to be an organisational agenda with a considerable budget set aside. To combat the very real issue of climate change, encourage your team to drive innovation that enables sustainability, to take an active interest in your company’s CSR initiatives and to consistently ask climate change related questions that matter.
Covid-19 has challenged and changed our outlook on life and work. With some positive reflection, it’s clear there is much to learn from the trying times that were, and to reimagine how we see ourselves and our workplaces in the future!