New Realities Realign Priorities for "People" Culture

May 12, 2020 LRN Corporation

The vast spread of COVID-19 has led to a huge change in how people work. People are learning to make work and home the same place, while those without that option are being asked to take dramatic steps related to safety and social distancing.

In a report, Boston Consulting Group states the world is not just heading to a new normal, but is in a “new now.” The report lays out seven “people priorities” it believes companies and their leaders must adopt, both for their employees’ sake, and for the resiliency of the business. 

They are:

“Smart work.” BCG says companies must work hard to accommodate virtual collaboration and working remotely at scale; and must start developing ways so there are smart approaches for organizations and people to balance on-site and remote work. It will be important to plan so the company captures the cost benefits of these changes.

Mental and physical health of employees. Employee wellness initiatives–perhaps leveraging big data and apps, such as those that promote social distancing–will be must-haves, not just nice-to-haves. Companies will need to address and be mindful of new mental stressors, and help employees manage them.

Creating new standards and paradigms for skills and talent. Because of the changes in the structure, content, and robustness of business and work, companies will need to develop adaptive learning ecosystems, re-skill employees by building on their digital capabilities, and rethink talent programs and platforms.

Flexible workforces. It will be important to tailor working models for employees. That probably means instituting new performance, reward, and compensation systems. That means how the company plans for the different skills it will need more nimble and dynamic.

Leading with “head, heart and hands,” in the words of the report. That means exerting empathy, empowering frontline workers, and developing a more robust, two-way communications platform with employees.

Doubling down on digital. To ensure people contribute effectively, and know they are contributing, the report states companies need to up the ante on harnessing data, and need to use AI and algorithms to complement what employees are doing, and to simplify the company’s operating model.

Ensuring a purpose-driven culture. More than ever, companies will need to take steps to foster a culture of resilience and make sure purpose, vision, and values are aligned. This may entail amplifying commitments to sustainability and social impact.

While it is probable no single company or leadership team can deliver on the priorities outlined in the report, it provides food for thought, especially for managers who understand they need to be especially attuned to how people are working, how they are conducting themselves in the new normal, and how employees are feeling about work.

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