According to Brian Kropp and Emily Rose McRae in their article “11 Trends that Will Shape Work in 2022 and Beyond”, one fact became clear by the close of 2021: the disruption of the status quo due to the pandemic and the far-reaching shifts in the global workforce would be a lasting one.
Employees themselves have been the trigger for these changes – from the overall enthusiasm with which they have approached working remotely, to the increased importance of mental health and its affect on work performance. This, however, brings about new questions: what specific forces have prompted these changes in employee attitudes about employment in general? How can business leaders in this new environment adapt to better serve their employees without sacrificing their company’s bottom line?
Kropp & McRae (2022) go on to suggest in their article there is no end in sight to the societal changes that have occurred during the past three years, many severe enough to cause enduring trauma for individuals and groups. Multiple Covid-19 quarantines and the shift to exclusively remote work for those able to maintain employment during the height of the global crisis have overturned the old employee mindset that has persisted for decades. For the first time, individuals were forced to reorient themselves in their own lives and take stock of what they found important – and edit the extraneous as they saw fit.
The leadership response
Taking this into account, how can leaders respond to move this evolution in the workforce into the future? Firstly, leaders can no longer manage from afar with a sense of detachment from the teams they lead. A remote work environment has required the automation of many managerial tasks that were previously hands-on, freeing leaders up to change their focus to new priorities. A human-centered workforce requires human-centered management. In a remote environment, leaders have become the main point of contact between the employee and the company. They now have to build real relationships with those they lead in order to effectively manage – as coaches of a team instead of unfeeling members of a bureaucracy. It may be useful for the senior leader who has found themselves unable to easily adapt to find a personal coach for themselves in order to learn the true value of such an approach.
For management to be most effective in a coaching capacity, he or she must understand the drives and motivations of the individuals who make up their team. Now that the world has changed so drastically, how also have their priorities at work? For many, life post-2020 presented the first significant opportunity to consider wants and needs in their professional lives. Leaders can use the answers to these questions to ensure the personal drives of the individuals in their teams line up with that of their organizations.
Once leaders have a clear understanding of who their teams are and have aligned their collective purposes, it is imperative that these newly formed relationships aren’t left to wither and die. Once plans to face the challenges of the organization have been identified, it’s time for those closest to the work – the employees – to have a seat at the table in terms of company decision-making.
Attract and retain top-tier talent
This turns the traditional leadership style completely on its head, but in this new era of the global workforce, it is a fresh perspective that is absolutely necessary to attract the best talent in the marketplace. Maintaining a vested interest in the wellbeing of your team, ensuring they know management cares about the same things they do and the company mission is intertwined with theirs – all of these things promise to provide the edge companies need to attract top-tier talent.
Forward-thinking team management. With such stiff competition for great talent, it is necessary for companies to stay agile enough in their recruiting strategies to snag the right prospective employees – those looking for an employer who will consider them as a whole person instead of a cog in the corporate machine. The company willing to make these adjustments has a huge opportunity to get out ahead of the market gap.
This article was created through the Innovation and Leadership Mastery Program, our online hub for building competency and capability in developing new ideas, products, and content.
Myron is passionate about building dynamic organizational systems and amazing teams. Over his 20+ year career, Myron has served as a leadership and human performance consultant and coach to executives and senior leaders across a wide range of industries, helping them realize their own potential and that of their teams.