The global COVID-19 pandemic accelerated ongoing trends in the workplace, including a move to more remote work, better work-life balance, and a renewed focus on improved corporate citizenship. Most organizations are still adapting to the “new normal” and the changes needed in post-pandemic leadership.
Those changes are necessary to manage a seismic shift in the workforce and society. The World Economic Forum wrote that the pandemic “changed people’s attitudes towards institutions in general, and towards employers in particular.” Organizations now must focus more on the individual as a whole, creating value by drawing on sociological and systems thinking to design more flexible and responsive workplaces.
A growing number of people expect businesses to play a leading role in transforming not only work and the lives of employees, but also entire communities. The 36,000 people worldwide who participated in the Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 survey named businesses more likely than governments to “coordinate cross-institutional efforts to solve societal problems.”
Business leaders can start by transforming the workplace to better meet employee needs, a step that may even involve changing the organizational structure of a business.
Post-Pandemic Changes in the Workforce
Perhaps the most significant change in the post-pandemic workforce is the desire for a better work/life balance. While this change is apparent in workers of every age, it’s especially important for younger workers. Many started their careers working remotely and have little interest in the long commutes and office cubicles that became part of professional life in previous generations.
The Great Resignation provided the best-known manifestation of this. According to the Pew Research Center, most workers who left their jobs did so because of low pay, little chance for promotion, and “feeling disrespected.”
Businesses continue to feel the impact. Six out of every ten young professionals between 25 and 35 left their job during the pandemic or plan to do so in the next two years. Also, 61 percent of young professionals in a Fidelity survey said that quality of life issues rank higher in importance than financial rewards. They value:
- Flexible schedules that allow remote work
- More paid time off
- Meaningful work
- Professional development
- Working for businesses that partner with communities on projects that make a positive, sustainable impact
- A diverse, equitable, and inclusive work environment
A report from Tata Consultancy Services argued that the pandemic has reset what employees think of as “normal.” The lines between work and home have blurred. They added: “Today, we engage, collaborate, manage our relationships, and perform our tasks somewhere between the virtual and physical space, not always a binary, but we continue to test our place on the continuum.”
Ways to Meet Post-Pandemic Leadership Challenges
To successfully navigate these changes, global talent acquisition and recruitment company LHH wrote that managers need to strategically shift how they oversee their employees. In the current environment, managers have the opportunity to become transformational leaders, providing increased transparency, a more flexible work environment, and fostering trust among their workers.
Results Rather Than Attendance
The pre-pandemic workplace often gave managers the ability to monitor employee activities constantly. The new generation of employees is more interested in completing tasks while maintaining a flexible schedule that allows at least some remote work. Managers must develop stronger trust with employees without seeing them every workday.
Create an Innovative Culture
Managers can use the multiple communication channels now available, connecting talented people in distant locations for collaborative projects. It’s also important to routinely bring everyone together through virtual channels to combat the tendency of some to “silo” in their remote location. This includes town halls, monthly departmental meetings, open forum discussions, and Q & As with organizational leadership.
Workers today expect their employers to positively impact society and the community around them. Creating business-community partnerships allows employees to volunteer in the community on long-term projects. These partnerships can take many forms but involve sustained investments of goods, materials, volunteer time, and cash donations to community partners. These partners include schools, organizations working with disadvantaged communities, and nonprofit groups.
Point Park University Prepares Modern Leaders
Through the online MA in Organizational Leadership program, Point Park University prepares leaders for the challenges of the modern workforce. Students develop expertise in ethics, decision-making, entrepreneurship, and organizational behavior. They also learn how to create a work culture that focuses on employees as whole individuals while creating a more productive, innovative environment that leads to business success.
Students in the graduate program can choose to focus on concentrations in Leading Social Innovation, Leading for Diversity and Inclusion, and General Concepts in Organizational Leadership. The University also has a concentration designed specifically for graduates of the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer program.
In every concentration, students develop a creative approach to management that will serve them well in post-pandemic leadership positions, including positions in human resource management, training and development, and social and community services.