There are certain developments that happen in our lives that become a demarcation for before and after moments. The COVID-19 pandemic was that dividing line. It changed life as we know it and brought about a shift in the way we work and interact with others in our ecosystems. Today, after almost two years of the pandemic, it is increasingly becoming clear that COVID was not just a crisis where everything can go back to normal afterwards. Instead, it is a paradigm shift that has engendered a new normal.
- Employee well-being and mental health are the top priority: After two years of working remotely, employees are gearing up to go back to work if they haven’t already. At the same time, companies need to buckle up and lay the groundwork for an enabling ‘back to office’ environment. Inevitably, this has several imperatives with employee well-being and mental wellness becoming a focal point. As organizations chalk out a phased return to work plan in 2022, employee well-being and mental health become much more critical to enabling a smooth transition from a virtual to a physical work environment. It is well-known that emotional well-being is critical for balancing one’s physical and mental health. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled employers to foster stronger relationships with their employees by becoming cognizant of not just their work-related challenges but also those they face in their daily lives. This is likely to lead to a paradigm shift across industries as companies not only focus on company or performance related issues but also on the overall well-being and mental health of their workforce. The concept of well-being now is changed to an opportunity to support employees in all aspects of their lives and enable a culture of holistic wellbeing. We will see companies promote and reinforce a culture of holistic well-being through curated wellness programs, positive communication on mental health, and access to the right resources. This is likely to accrue benefits to all stakeholders in the ecosystem.
- Creating a purpose-driven culture: The key to a successful organization is to have a strong culture that is supported by a set of values and beliefs, ethics and compliance, and sustainable growth strategy. A culture that is focused on employees has been shown to improve levels of employee engagement, productivity and performance. This can be achieved by creating a purpose-driven culture where they find meaning to their lives – able to balance their personal and professional priorities. At the same time, companies will also proactively look to identify skill gaps in the existing talent and upskill, hire, or both.
- Empathetic leadership will sustain a positive workplace: It’s crucial for organisations today to develop a culture for empathetic behaviour for moving their organization forward during both good and challenging times. Emotional Intelligence is today one of the most valuable skills that helps improve effective communication, management, problem-solving, and relationships within the workplace. Today, the most effective leaders are thriving in their respective fields due to their EQ, not IQ.
- Workforce expectations are changing with flexi and value-based options: Another aspect that is currently in a state of transportation is employee expectations. Pre-pandemic, the average employee was accustomed to a certain kind of support from their organization. However, today, in the aftermath of the pandemic, employee expectations are changing, and talent is reconsidering its priorities. Today, the workforce is looking for better pay, more flexibility, and remote work options while prioritizing areas that bring purpose to their lives. And, as the workforce rethinks its priorities, the intangible aspects of a company’s brand – its mission, its values, and commitments to society will take on new meaning.
- Focus stays on reigning the talent churn and improving retention: Inarguably, there is a great deal of talent in India. However, at the same time, the digital transformation that is currently underway is birthing new jobs that require different skill sets. What this is leading to is “the Great Churn” especially in the Technology space. The pandemic has pushed the demand for tech skills, thereby making the sector an employee market. With the right set of priorities in place to address flexibility, work-life balance, mental health, etc., companies can hope to reign in churn and improve retention. Further, companies will also need to adopt a customized approach to address the needs of each employee rather than a broad-brush approach.
At the end of the day, 2022 will see more and more companies connect better with their employees and ensure that the assigned roles are well-aligned with their passion, thereby making work both meaningful and exciting. In the aftermath of the pandemic, work-life as we knew it is going to change. However, with the right focus on emotional and well-being, this change can become a catalyst for creating a more balanced and fulfilling work life.