Over the past several weeks, the LinkedIn community has been abuzz with the fallout of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. From talking about mental health challenges to recovering from a prolonged Covid illness, people are capturing their journey through this public health crisis on social media. More importantly, they are documenting how they are being treated at their workplace.
A large populace that has usually shied away from talking about workplace culture, is now being vocal on how they are being treated during the ongoing crisis. This reflects a significant empowerment, wherein people are looking to their leaders for improvement in working standards. Employees are rightfully denouncing toxic workplace actions by calling out their employers publicly.
While this has been happening on one end of the spectrum, others are setting a benchmark for what it means to be people-first. The second wave of the pandemic has hit home for many. It has created a volatile environment, wherein people are being compelled to source medical resources for their loved ones. In response, employers have had to design policy frameworks to support their employees and families.
Take for instance, Borosil, which has captured a significant mindshare due to its Covid relief plan. The company will be paying salary to the family for 2 years after the passing of an employee and also fund the education for their children until graduation. Following this announcement, many companies have followed suit by drafting their own policies and one factor has emerged as a common denominator – FAMILY.
Since the pandemic struck last year, our priorities have reset, and family has rightfully regained its top position in our lives. Over the years, people have prioritized work, and families have had to make allowances. But the situation has completely turned around in a year’s time. The concept of the workplace has changed from a homogenized structure to a fragmented one. Workplaces have become multiple homes across multiple cities and organizations have had to make allowances for employees’ families, accepting the fact that personal life will encroach into professional one.
Tracking the impact of the pandemic on their own community, organizations are taking stock of the wellbeing of employees and families. From light-hearted interactions for families in the first wave to mobilizing local support in the second one, employee experience has invariably become family-first.
Employers are helping source critical requirements like hospital beds and oxygen cylinders or paying forward salaries and offering loans, showing great commitment towards their staff. Those not rallying behind their employees are making irreversible and long-lasting errors in defining the future of their workplace.
There has been a higher emphasis on inclusivity since the pandemic struck. An unprecedented crisis that locked us all in our homes has increased awareness on the pre-existing issue of the domestic divide between men and women. It is no secret that women have shouldered a majority of domestic responsibilities, leading to many dropping out of the workforce. Companies are recognizing the need to create opportunities to balance this divide.
More companies are creating tailor-made policies for women on career break and homemakers. With the pandemic having normalized the work from home model, organizations are evaluating flexi employment opportunities to provide room for their existing caregiving responsibilities and other limitations. It has also prompted leadership initiatives across organizations that cater to the unique challenges faced by their women workforce.
The pandemic has changed the dynamics for working individuals, especially those with caregiving responsibilities towards elder dependents and younger children. They recognize now they have discretion to manage their day in a way that allows them to carry out personal and professional responsibilities. This has shifted the meaning of ease of work and flexibility, raising their expectations from the employers.
Along with inclusivity, flexibility to prioritize family responsibilities will be a paramount factor for employees. For instance, childcare supported by the workplace will become more commonplace in the post pandemic era. A hybrid model that empowers the employee to choose between work from home and office will become a preferred model. As working parents navigate the work-life dilemma, the future of Indian workplace will be defined by pro-family policies.
COVID-19 pandemic has been a rude awakening for many individuals who are now recognizing the need for financial protection. In the immediate aftermath, employers are likely to focus on initiatives that raise awareness regarding the need for insurance and contingency planning. Mental health will also find center stage in policy conversations, as prolonged exposure to stress and anxiety will affect the workforce at large.
As employers draw their future roadmap, employee wellbeing, flexibility, and work-life balance will influence employee policies. An empowered workforce will also steer companies towards pro-health, community-focused measures. In the future, what will matter the most is if your organization is family friendly.