The pandemic brought many problems facing the business community to the forefront of people’s consciousness – owners, leadership, managers, and employees. As a result, the traditional outlook of having people work long hours and perform tasks without asking questions met a severe roadblock.
Due to people changing from working in an office environment to working from home, many realized that life could be better. The one, two, or three hours a day they used to spend commuting was something they didn’t want to go back to doing. While remote work presented challenges for many, they discovered that it was more conducive to happiness. Lack of commute, lower cost of living, more time with family and friends were a few of several benefits of working from home. In addition, the additional time allowed people to take stock of their lives and be more discerning about the kind of work they wanted to do.
What this has meant for the leaders of almost any business is difficulty in hiring and sustaining talent. Practically every industry is suffering from a staff shortage. Perhaps this means that an organization has to look at itself and its relationship with its employees closely.
High-performing contributors believe in excellence, gauge their success through results, and have high expectations of themselves. But, as it happens, individual contributors get promoted on their performance. However, managers need a different skill set to transition into people leaders.
On the one hand, many experience a lack of motivation due to the absence of tangible results and individual contributions. On the other hand, managers find it hard to delegate and let go of their responsibilities.
From an employee’s perspective, if they are doing a good job, they do not want their boss to manage every detail? Micromanagers may fail to engage employees due to a lack of consideration of creating space for others. Not everyone is this way, of course, but there is a lot of it out there.
When managers lack basic leadership skills, the employees will be more likely to walk.
A true story from the telecom world was a manager who took pride in directing his employees without realizing that he was suffocating them. At the same time, he felt stumped by the highest turnover rate in his department. It is time to not hide from the obvious if you want to hire and keep good people.
People Discovered Choices
The pandemic showed people there were other ways to make a living than the job they had. “Necessity is the mother of invention.” and people discovered new ways to make an income throughout the pandemic. Some finally started that business they always wanted to do. Others realized they could reposition their skills and be part of the gig economy. They could do a job and then move on to the next. Maybe it didn’t pay as well as their old job. But the freedom, being your boss, and the flexibility more than offset the negatives.
Then some found out they were so tired of their old job that they would do anything but return to it again. I coached one successful executive who transitioned into a consultant. He found out that he made enough to support his wife in her business venture if he worked strategically.
Normalizing Mental Health
With the state of the world today, advocating mental health is especially important. We need to help each other create “a better world.” We can best do that by being as mentally healthy as possible.
Mental Well Being is the most critical consideration for C-suite high-achievers. They are already super-focused and highly productive. High-Achievers worry about their physical health, but not as much as they worry about their mental health. So, as leaders, don’t just tell people to exercise their minds; show them. Give them something to think about. Inspire them. Give them a “challenge” and provide incentives for overcoming it.
Offer them a hybrid working environment to those who are hesitant to return to work in person. Educate the workforce that in-person working allows for information sharing through impromptu conversations, building a sense of camaraderie, creating a sense of shared mission, and enhancing work satisfaction.
Time for Organizations to Look in the Mirror
A dangerous road to travel is to continue doing things the same way as before. The pandemic could very well be a reckoning time for the American business culture. People realized that they don’t have to be stuck with their job if they don’t like it. Instead, they can look for places that will provide employee centric culture with comparable or higher payscale. Potential employees will judge if a company’s environment and culture are for them or not.
It is on a business to make themselves more attractive to potential employees. People want more of a work-life balance and to be happy. This might force some firms to get out of their comfort zone as they might have to offer work flexibility and create work incentives. However, the truth is that burnout is prevalent amongst us, and business leaders recognize the need to adapt.
Written by Divya Parekh.
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