The traumatic events of the last two years have forced us to focus on narrow survival skills for life, family, and work. We have a need for control in unstable conditions. How can you take control when everything about our lives, work, and health is changing almost every day? Just as we think we have established a new normal, it disappears.
There is no doubt that there has been a revolution in workplace expectations. People are experiencing self-awareness, isolation, and the need for affinity. Let’s examine four trends Learning and Development (L&D) and Human Resources (HR) professionals will have to address for their people and organizations to succeed in “the new normal”:
1. How will you retain your talent? A consequence of the pandemic is the need for individuals to find new meaning for their lives, which can mean new jobs and careers. There are so many people reshaping their careers that it now is being called “The Great Resignation.” A recent Harvard Business Review (HBR) article analyzes several of the unseen factors driving the revolution in resignations. The article even includes a link to a YouTube video on “The HBR Guide to Quitting Your Job” (https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation).
In addition, many leaders and employees do not want to return to the “normal” circumstances of 2019, and even if they could, the reality is that the old way is no longer viable. I first reported this phenomenon in a Training magazine article (https://trainingmag.com/training-for-the-post-pandemic-period-expect-the-unexpected/).
2. What will belonging look like in the new Era of Inclusion? New inclusive approaches to organizations’ Diversity initiatives must evolve. Belonging and structural impediments to Inclusion must be addressed. Managers need to develop their empathy skills as I described in a recent article (https://trainingmag.com/empathy-the-magic-elixir/).L&D and HR leaders must learn how to support these initiatives, plus other (unanticipated) factors.
3. How will you prepare for the return to globalization? As the pandemic recedes, organizations may find their culturally competent bench strength to be sorely lacking. Many will need to establish or recreate new courses on cultural awareness, global mindset, and global leadership skills. Such programs also promote an organization’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives. Each organization and employee’s culture produces its own blind spots, illusions, and biases. The more we can learn about each other’s cultures, the more open and trusting we will be and the more affinity and sense of belonging we will have with our co-workers.
Organizations also need to carefully examine their policies and practices for selecting employees for international assignments that previously may have been based on pre-existing hidden biases.
4.How will you master the challenges of the hybrid workplace? We now are faced with the reality that work will never be the same. Whenever feasible, organizations will operate in a hybrid culture where some employees will be “present” in the office, plant, laboratory, etc., while others will be working from home or satellite locations. Those companies that do not address this will see a further decrease in their talent. My recent article (https://trainingmag.com/training-for-a-hybrid-workplace/) addresses the practical strategies L&D and HR can implement to optimize performance and Inclusion in the new hybrid workplace.
Undoubtedly, there has been a revolution in workplace expectations. Society is entering into a state of anomie, a term coined by sociologist Emile Durkheim to describe what happens when traditional common values and meanings no longer apply, and no new systems have evolved to help people find their sense of purpose and belonging. Most of us are experiencing anomie about our careers and workplace norms. How L&D and HR tackle this will determine if their leaders, managers, and employees want to continue their careers with the organization.
Being cognizant of this new reality and providing the appropriate training to navigate the changes we all are experiencing now—and in the future—is the key to attracting and retaining the best talent.