Article: The 'emerging' new normal - Talent risks, leadership and the workplace

Talent Management

The 'emerging' new normal - Talent risks, leadership and the workplace

In this article, we survey research reports, guides and workplace advisory from leading consulting firms on the shifts to the world of work in the backdrop of COVID-19.
The 'emerging' new normal - Talent risks, leadership and the workplace

Businesses can be split into two – those that were better prepared to deal with an uncertain disruption in the backdrop of COVID 19, and those that had to adopt new business practices quickly. Every organization has had to enhance agility and adapt to the change. “Knowingly or unknowingly, companies have shifted to adaptable organization models to enhance agility and to respond to the crisis,” says a report on Adaptable Organizations by Deloitte.  

According to the report, “96 percent companies believed that organization agility was important for growth in a disruptive business environment...only 27 percent were building or scaling up their organization and transforming the way it works,”

The reason why only a few companies seem to have embarked on change measures in the past is that they’ve had deep-rooted beliefs and challenges that held them back. Some of these beliefs include the idea that disruption was a choice, that controlled leadership was needed, that competitiveness was more important than collaboration and that there needed to be immediate results for change.

The challenges that companies face today are new and this includes: Rapid and on-going response, realigning business priorities, addressing capability gaps, and exploring collaboration. 

Emerging leaders and roles

The on-going crisis has also brought into sharp focus the roles that are enabling companies to navigate the disruption with ease and the importance of teams. The research by Deloitte has found that – 85 percent leaders believed that agility of their workforce to cope and adapt to new ways of working surprise them. And 60 percent leaders felt that teams were able to quickly re-organize based on outcomes and priorities. 

A majority of the CXOs (about 72 percent) felt that the ‘Team Lead’ was the most important in ensuring the well-being of the workforce.

As the maturity of adaptable organization increases, the report’s authors argue that ‘flexible teams’ will be taken over by ‘ mission driven autonomous teams’ , outcome based roles will give way to unrestricted super jobs. 

Emerging talent risks

In a step by step guide, KPMG outlined some of the key risk parameters to consider as part of its talent risk framework – Change and Culture, Compliance and Cost, Capacity, Capability and Connectivity. The report asks, how do companies plan to manage culture? Including strategies to keep employees updated, measuring resistance, putting in place feedback mechanism etc., 

One of the important functions for leaders would be to identify which of the workplace changes are likely to become permanent and which will revert back to pre-pandemic state.

Top talent: Apart from assessing critical roles that will help the business, companies also need to start reflecting on which of their employees are a top retention priority for the company?

Employee Costs: The report asserts the need to draft new policies to balance employee costs and business continuity – which accounts from new IT applications, remote mentoring and rapid re-skilling.

Emerging workplace

The rush to ensure business continuity has meant that most companies moved immediately to a work from home model, for roles where it was possible to shift.  While there have been calls to seriously consider the permanent shift to a work-from-home model, it may still be too early to identify the opportunity areas and challenges that virtual work brings.

An analysis by EY, showed that there is a need for more structure in navigating remote work – and this calls for clearer guidelines, real commitment and leadership. The need for secure IT infrastructure is also a critical need for employees working remotely, with an increase in hacking and data theft.

Another key consideration for the emerging workplace that is predicated on remote work is to seriously consider the blurring of work-life. Companies need to understand how their employees’ wellbeing is affected and they need to proactively work toward enhacing their policies and process to address fatigue.

As Satya Nadella in a recent interview to the New York Times pointed out, shifting to remote work entirely is like “replacing one dogma with another dogma.”

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Topics: Talent Management, #TheNewNormal, #ResetWork

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