September 24, 2021 – From culture and talent management to health and wellness, the pandemic has spotlighted several valuable lessons for organizational leaders to carry with them going forward. “With many organizations maintaining a fully remote environment and others adopting a hybrid approach, the employer playing field as we knew it has changed,” said a new report from BroadView Talent Partners. “By letting go of old-school beliefs and embracing transformation, the savvy leader can enjoy increased productivity while creating a healthier work environment with happier employees.” The Fairfield, Conn-based executive recruitment firm cites three lessons of COVID-19 that all business leaders should adopt: support a healthy work/life balance, be intentional about protecting your stars, and reinforce the importance of health and wellness.
Let’s take a closer look:
1. Support a Healthy Work/Life Balance. Many employees who quickly adapted to the pandemic working environment established in March 2020 have found their northern star working from home. With no commute, they show increased productivity on the job while benefitting from valuable family time at home, said BroadView Talent Partners. With this new balance, many have rediscovered their passion for both life and work. Assuming technology and internet needs are fulfilled, they are comfortable going into the office only for occasional meetings because they are fully able to deliver and perform at a high level while working from home.
“The old-school thought that employees must be within your reach to effectively manage is passe,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “Leaders must have greater empathy for what their employees juggle in order to deliver for them. While you want to continue to challenge them, it has never been more important than now to support employee work/life balance.”
2. Be Intentional about Protecting Your Stars. In a remote or hybrid atmosphere, leaders must continue to protect their high performing, high potential and/or succession planning eligible leaders with more intention than ever, said the report. Employees who choose to work from home face a risk/reward relationship that should be managed. Because maintaining a presence before their teams, fellow executives and board members is essential, a good leader will be mindful of emphasizing the importance of those face-to-face conversations.
In addition, starting now, automate yearly conversations with your stars about their highest career goals and aspirations (HCGA). “During the pandemic, many employees chose to remain with current positions as they sought stability during an unstable time,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “With the proliferation of vaccines, we are seeing talented individuals seek new opportunities. If your organization cannot meet an individual’s HCGA, then we recommend a novel yet realistic approach: offer to partner with the soon-to-be exiting leader to find their next role under the proviso that he or she will identify or recruit a replacement. This transparent and honest talent management strategy serves to engender goodwill while reducing current and future regretted losses.”
3. Reinforce the Importance of Health and Wellness. If there is anything leaders have learned during the past 18 months, it is not only that health and wellness is more important than ever, but also there must be intentionality around the demographic, racial and equity components of health and wellness. This includes improved nutrition and exercise habits so that every employee, of every race and ethnicity, can show up to work, either remotely or in-person, as healthy as they can be, both mentally and physically.
Additionally, remember that the pandemic is far from over. “The Delta variant has taken hold and is especially dangerous to those who are unvaccinated and with prior medical challenges whether known or undiagnosed,” said the search firm. “All employees need to be aware of the lessons learned about hygiene, health and safety, and this mindfulness will not be the same amongst everyone. Using facts, not misinformation or conspiracy theories, help your employees understand and embrace the subtle, lasting effects of the virus so that they can be the healthiest they can be going forward.”
Moving ahead, the enlightened leader will take a proactive lead in all the areas above, said the report. Looking at the next 12 to18 months, many will be faced with some semblance of returning to the office. “Recognize that it is only a pilot and not necessarily policy; take time over the continued calendar year to observe how this new approach is working for your employees to see if it is working for your organization,” said BroadView Talent Partners. “Have healthy and proactive conversations with your stars to protect your high value leadership assets. Continue to watch health restrictions and encourage healthy habits within and among all demographics in your organization. By being proactive and open-minded, you can rise out of this pandemic with a stronger organization supported by healthier, happier, and more engaged employees.”
Related: CEO Leadership During COVID-19
Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media