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A reimagined world of work post Covid-19

02 Jun 09:00 by Jessica O'Neill

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With restrictions lifting across Australia, the conversation of recovery and ‘what’s next’ is a frequent conversation amongst my candidates and clients.

As we move to the next phase of this crisis I think it’s important to reflect. Reflect on the phenomenal innovation, agility, and resilience we have seen from individuals and organisations throughout this time and of course, take with us the learnings that have come out of the last few months.  

We have seen businesses diversify their offerings to help fight the crisis here in Australia. We have seen businesses who had not previously supported flexible working set up systems overnight to support employees working remotely. We have seen modern awards change in a matter of days. Prior to COVID-19, some of this change would have taken years to come to fruition.

HR professionals have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 crisis, responding to the way we work, engage and operate during this time. As we now look to recovery, this is the time to reimagine and reinvigorate. To reflect on this time, process the learnings and forge a new way forward.

From conversations with clients and candidates in the HR community in Brisbane, these are the main points of consideration as we move into the recovery phase.

Flexible & Remote working

The first and big item for HR professionals to tackle will be the notion of flexible working – surprise! Do employers have a choice anymore??

The answer is no, old school thinking is no longer. If we are going to take one silver lining out of COVID it’s that we have proved to employers that flexible and remote working works. So how will you embrace this? Of course, you will put parameters in place around flexible and remote working but what exactly are those parameters and why are they in place?

However, let’s not forgot to focus on connection and team culture whilst embracing the ‘new normal’. How can you ensure employee engagement is at the centre of a blended office/home model. Protect your culture, don’t forgot to play and connect as a team. Your business is your people and your people are your business!

Role Design

This leads to my second point – role design and your future workforce. What will your organisational structure need to look like once we enter the new ‘normal’. Many strategic plans have been pushed forward due to necessity. Technology roadmaps have been accelerated, and what we were looking to achieve within the next three years has now been embraced rapidly within the workforce. What roles will now be automated? What does customer engagement now look like? What positions will now underpin and ensure your business success.

Leadership Capability

No doubt leaders of all levels have been challenged, surprised, pivoted to embrace opportunities, and at times struggled during COVID-19. But the one thing that has become apparent is how important your leadership team will be post COVID-19. Looking at where the business is positioned, what competencies will your leaders need to help drive your business into the future, this could look very different to what you needed before COVID-19. How are you drawing on the agile and innovative behaviours your leaders demonstrated during COVID and harnessing these moving forward? It is important to ensure that leaders are equipped with the skills needed to support the changing environment.

Employer Brand

The story of your business through COVID-19 is so important, talking about the silver linings and communicating how employees were treated will be an excellent tool to elevate your employer brand. There will be a war on talent and you need to be well positioned post COVID-19. What is your story and learnings through this time? What made your people feel valued through COVID-19? We have all been thrust into a new world, we have made mistakes and we have had to be extremely agile – how do you communicate this through your EVP with honesty and integrity? Looking into the future what elements of your employer brand will change? When thinking of future talent and leaders, how are you going to appeal as an employer choice in this market?

Remember people will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel – how do you embrace this feeling and translate that into your new EVP?

Future Talent

We all know at some point the war on talent will be back. How are you ensuring your employer brand is going to attract this talent in the future & how are you engaging with this talent?

Use this time to proactively think about your talent strategy and develop your pipelines with talent that will align to your business model post COVID-19. What is your message to market before you approach people – how are they understanding your employee value proposition? Your EVP has most likely changed or will change post COVID-19, how are you communicating and connecting this to future employees?

Health and Wellbeing

As we transition back into the workplace, your employees health and wellbeing will be at the forefront of your strategy. Not only physical safety but psychological safety – coming back into the workplace may increase anxiety and stress amongst the group. How are you ensuring physical and psychological safety of your people? How do we support leaders to support there team? We have to look out for each other!

Now is the perfect opportunity to cast a lens over your operating model, people strategy and direction and look at how you are going to enable a thriving model post-COVID-19.