Changes from the Pandemic – 4 Lessons that Are Here to Stay

by Donna Burnett on August 3, 2022 in Hiring


lessons from the pandemic

From the constant changes of pandemic precautions and remote work to job loss and economic uncertainty, we all felt the repercussions from the last two and a half years. And regardless of the impact, all businesses learned one thing for certain: they can change. The question is, which changes will stick?

In-office work may return, automation may increase, and new jobs may expand, but there are some lessons that forever changed our workforce. As leaders looking to make successful plans and retain top talent, how can you support your company and employees post-pandemic? Here’s our two cents on it all.

4 Lessons from the Pandemic

  1. Remote Work Is Here to Stay

In a recent McKinsey survey, 75% of respondents said they prefer a hybrid working model post-pandemic while only 25% prefer to be completely on-site. That means many employees want (sometimes expect) hybrid schedules as an option. Additionally, a Gartner survey shows that 52% of employees say flexible work schedules will directly impact their decision to say in their current role.

While there are many factors for businesses to consider in making hybrid or remote work permanent, the organizations that make this a reality will keep up pace with competitors and likely increase the tenure of their top talent.

However, remote work doesn’t solely impact retention but the entire hiring process. Location is no longer the set-in-stone job requirement it once was. The talent pool is forever expanded, and job seekers from across the nation can now apply for positions with any number of companies.

Every company that chooses not to hire remote work loses a segment of the possible workforce. Employees notice when businesses value the needs and wants of their employees, especially when that includes flexible work schedules.

  1. Work-life Balance Is Front and Center

So many individuals reached a breaking point in the last two years. The stress of the pandemic and the loneliness of isolation took its toll.  By November of 2020, a Boston College survey found that anxiety increased by 50% and depression by 44%, a rate six times that of 2019. Increased anxiety and depression prompted more people to reflect on their purpose and the balance within their lives.

Experts from Johns Hopkins stress that some of the best ways to cope from the pandemic’s increase in our collective depression and anxiety is having healthy routines, engaging in self-care (sleep, nutrition, and socializing), and asking for help through the many forms of counseling and therapy available, whether in-person or via telehealth.

Pre-pandemic, salaries appeared to be a key deciding factor in whether an individual would accept a position or not. While monetary incentive will always a point of consideration, employees are clearly concerned with more than just a paycheck. Professionals are asking employers questions like:

  • What are your expectations on communication and response time? How often do I have to be “on” when it comes to emails and messages?
  • How well do you encourage and support taking time off?
  • Do you offer any support or mentorship?

These are a small sample of questions that get at the heart of positive work-life balance. Employees still want to invest in a career, but not one that leaves their tank on empty.

  1. Conversations Surrounding DEI are Imperative

Companies across the board saw an increased investment in DEI initiatives, but maybe none more so than nonprofits, as highlighted by a recent survey by Nonprofit Finance Fund. While 48% of BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and person of color) organizations have actively engaged in advancing racial equity for 5+ years, 81% of BIPOC and 68% of all nonprofits said they increased their focus on advancing racial equity over the past two years.

A recent SHRM article highlights that since 2020 about 35% of companies have added or expanded their DEI support. They have increased dedicated DEI staff, added to their budgets, and disclosed more DEI metrics to make plans and positive changes for their business.

From nonprofits to corporate enterprises, discussions on DEI are expanding. By increasing DEI efforts, employers are creating greater potential to break down barriers in job mobility for the marginalized, improve job quality, and create new opportunities for job seekers (take a look at this blog to learn more – we did a deep dive into this whole topic).

  1. Automations Will Continue to Develop  

From hospital self-check-ins to automated email campaigns and chat bots on websites, organizations are continually innovating. In a recent survey by the World Economic Forum, 43% of businesses expect to reduce their workforce through new technology to improve productivity. However, while AI may take the place of repetitive tasks, that does not remove the need for human talent.

Providing job retraining and enabling individuals to learn new, marketable skills throughout their career journey will be crucial to this ever-evolving puzzle. What types of automation will streamline efficiencies and support your staff? Task automation could be a pathway for current employees to spend their time building better relationships with clients and customers, freeing them from tedious and monotonous tasks that technology can handle.

Flexible schedules, work-life balance, DEI conversations, and automation – are these the only topics that have brought lasting transformation to today’s workforce? Undoubtedly no. Change is a constant in the job market, and we are still feeling the ripples of the pandemic. However, if you can rise with the tides of change, you will not only sustain your business but support your most valuable asset: your people.

Do you have further thoughts about the pandemic’s impact on your business? We would love to hear from you. Connect with our team today, and let’s make the most out of these lessons together.


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