How will COVID-19 change the world of work: Exploring how people practices might change post-pandemic.

By David C Howe, Rahul S Chauhan, Andrew T Soderberg and M Ronald Buckley.

There’s been plenty of discussion around how COVID-19 has and will impact the world of work. The move to greater remote working is one such example, and it’s likely that we’ll see more hybrid workplaces post-pandemic (at least for those that are able to do their jobs from home).

Recruitment and retention

Shifts in economies and industries could impact employee intention’s to find new fields of work. For example, for workers in industries like hospitality and travel that are heavily impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, the job market is complex. Many have been made redundant or are on furlough.

This leaves many workers looking for new work within industries where many are unlikely to hire new staff in the short term. That means workers in these industries may look for work elsewhere or retrain. In turn, these industries will find it difficult to recruit in the future, so will need to think about their employee value proposition and attraction strategies.

On the other hand, industries where remote working is possible may be in a better position to recruit, as remote work becomes more desirable.

Employers in all industries need to ensure they offer sufficient opportunities for learning and skill development to ensure workers have transferable skills, as markets and businesses continue to shift post-pandemic.

Employee wellbeing

COVID-19 has blurred boundaries between work and home and put wellbeing at the top of the business agenda.  With those going into their place of work potentially anxious about catching the virus, and those working remotely often struggling to manage the stress of balancing work and home life, organisations need a renewed focus on how they support employees. Indeed, the onus is on employers now more than ever given the blurring between work and home life.

For those working remotely with caring responsibilities, managing work and non-work commitments has shifted dramatically. For many, the case has been made for better use of flexible working practices, including remote working (although working remotely during a pandemic is not a true flexible working arrangement). Longer term, organisations may reflect on how to be more creative with flexible working options, and individuals may reflect on what arrangements work best for their personal life and productivity. Employers that allow greater flexibility will inevitably have an advantage in the job market.

Changing people practices

As well as monitoring and updating recruitment, retention and wellbeing strategies in line with these potential shifts, people professionals have a key role to play in managing the potential impact of these shifts on different sections of the workforce. For example, those who are facing job insecurity. Making ethical workforce decisions and considering how to redeploy or upskill employees will be important, as well as prioritising wellbeing and providing proactive support.

With remote working unlikely to disappear post-pandemic, people professionals will need to ensure this and other flexible options are available across the workforce and not just for certain job roles, to ensure fairness and inclusion.

The authors note that it will be several years before the long term impact of the pandemic becomes clear. Organisations need to be aware of the potential shifts and consider what this means for their people strategy, and then adapt accordingly.


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