Human Resources: the lessons of 2020

Remote working has begun long before the pandemic spread around the world and disrupted economies. In fact, the virus only accelerated this dislocation and brought to light an organization of work that had become obsolete in many ways.
January 03, 2021

Remote working has begun long before the pandemic spread around the world and disrupted economies. In fact, Covid19 only accelerated this dislocation, and highlighted a work organization that had become obsolete in many ways. What are the lessons we can learn from this and what steps do we need to take to adapt?

Refocus on the human

Overly eager to satisfy the short-term demands of shareholders by showing results that meet their expectations, companies have ended up forgetting that they are, above all, human organizations. The health crisis has brought them back to order. And it was brutal.

The omnipotence of short-term performance only increased pressure and stress at work and created a climate of insecurity. Even before the crisis erupted, Gallup’s reports were already indicative of an untenable situation:

  • 81% of employees worldwide were unhappy at work or disengaged,
  • 19% actively disengaged,
  • and only 11% were committed to their employer.

For this reason, priority must be given to human resources, starting, for example, with ensuring people’s physical protection and well-being and building their confidence.

The importance of well-being

The crisis has put well-being at the forefront. Not only physical well-being, but also mental well-being, which many did not expect. With the abrupt and forced shift to remote working and the inability to draw healthy boundaries between work and home, in addition to the personal challenges faced by families around the world, mental well-being has been undermined. With the increased stress and burnout that has often accompanied it, people with mental health problems have found it difficult to adapt, or to simply be able to socialize, which has further isolated them. While some employees were able to adapt, others suffered more – and the fact that they were asked to do more only worsened their current state of well-being.

Research has shown that companies that care about the well-being of their employees have always performed better in the past, and there is a good chance that those that did so during the crisis will be in the best position for the coming year.

There is an urgent need to think now about how to change the organization of work so that it guarantees both well-being and productivity. This change is imperative and non-negotiable.
Simple steps can be taken to achieve this, such as keeping staff in touch and supporting them in isolation, designing and defining new work roles and responsibilities, or encouraging learning through games.

Making Work Meaningful

People want their work to have purpose and meaning. They also want to be recognized for their skills and for what they do to give meaning to their lives. Here again, simple measures can be implemented, such as encouraging solidarity actions and highlighting those among the staff who are doing the most for the community.

But there must be a clearly defined vision and goals from the outset.
This means telling your employees why they are doing what they are doing, and your goals for a sustainable company. These will be your “North Star” that will guide the future direction of your company.

In conclusion

All in all, this is about a radical change of culture, which can only be achieved by making staff accountable and involving them in the implementation and deployment of your vision. It is not enough to simply communicate good intentions or support an initiative. It is imperative that the program involves staff in both its design and implementation so that it can be translated into concrete actions and produce the desired result.

If leaders take ownership of the culture change, understand the business case for engagement and create a high-level engagement and development strategy that they lead by example, then employee engagement ceases to be a program and begins to become a way of life.

Patrick Vieljeux

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