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Resilient Workforce: How to build a responsible and resilient workforce, keep employees happy

As said by a famous British-American author and inspirational speaker, Simon Sinek, “leadership is like parenting.”

Indeed, it is an everyday job that requires leaders to care for and nurture employees on a day-to-day basis rather than waiting to show care or empathy on the day they decide to move out.

It has been two years since we have been in the middle of a global pandemic, and still we don’t know what is yet to come. Covid-19 has changed the way organizations and businesses function and has inspired organizations to evolve their perspectives on the workforce, employee and people management, and leadership.

The most important of these disruptions (or innovations) has been a shift to remote and hybrid working. In the wake of the virus sweeping the globe, it took no time for organizations to move to a newer model of working while prioritizing the health, safety and well-being of employees. However, remote working is accompanied by its own set of challenges including a greater disconnect between employer and employees, a heavy on virtual tools, leading to stress, burnout and lower productivity, and the intermixing of personal and professional lives.

The second virulent wave of Covid-19 in India a year ago, compelled organizations to once again demonstrate care and concern for their employees. It was indeed heartening to see corporations across sectors working in tandem with the government to help support their employees navigate the tough and trying times. The idea of ​​“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” was seen and observed in its full spirit, and it helped convey the power of “community” working in one direction.

The working world is now settling into new rhythms, though arguably, it will never return to what we knew before. The most important learning that the pandemic has bestowed on organizations is the importance of adopting people-first approach and focus on building responsible and resilient workplaces.

Responsible and resilient workplaces are strongly associated with effective employee engagement, job satisfaction, and strong organizational commitment. The question is what steps should be taken to build such a workplace?

Here are a few suggestions that could help organizations tread on this path.

flexible working
A new concept that emerged during Covid and is here to stay, is that organisations, on the whole, have embraced greater flexibility in how people work. It is important for organizations to continue utilizing the best of what has been learned working remotely while encouraging more productive face-to-face connections and greater flexibility and balance for their colleagues. A careful blend of flexible, digitally-enabled remote work and purposeful in-person connection and collaboration has proven to be quite beneficial. This approach aids employees in achieving a greater balance between their professional and personal lives, thereby enhancing their performance, productivity and job satisfaction.

employee upskilling

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, it is estimated that, by 2024, around 40% of workers will require reskilling of up to six months. We are certainly experiencing that unfold. With the changing market scenario, upskilling has become one of the effective ways to build a resilient workforce. Many organizations have already started offering workplace education in the form of training, workshops and offering tuition fee support to employees for pursuing upskilling in areas such as data analytics, management, and Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning. These initiatives and efforts should be encouraged at an organizational level to help employees scale up on an everyday basis.

Engaging employees in CSR activities

Encouraging employees to participate and volunteer in activities relating to making contributions toward society and communities not only cultivates a holistic understanding amongst employees about the employer but also helps employees engage in meaningful conversations outside work. These activities also provide employees with opportunities to disconnect from work and join forces with their fellow colleagues to support worthwhile causes. Organizations therefore are encouraged to engage their employees in CSR activities and simultaneously help them with opportunities to cherish the spirit of ‘giving back to society’.

Promoting a Culture committed to Diversity and Inclusion

A recent Wiley The Hidden Cost of Onboarding Graduate Talent report, which surveyed business leaders and young professionals in the US revealed that 47% of entry-level talent consider company culture as the paramount factor while deciding to accept a new role. Diversity and inclusion form a vital component of an organization’s culture. It’s time that organizations re-think their diversity and inclusion (D&I) strategies and commit strongly to them so that employees of all backgrounds feel valued, respected and celebrated.

A key element of culture is whether employees feel a strong sense of community and belonging, also critical to creating connections in a remote or hybrid work environment. Therefore, it’s important that employers cultivate a work environment that enables employee-to-employee and employee-to-employer connection and communication, regardless of location.

summing up

As the pandemic life is gradually receding, employers and employees both are in the midst of a moment of reckoning while coping with the impacts of ‘The Great Resignation.’ Resignations have emerged rapidly across the globe since 2021, ranging from top corporates to IT companies and many smaller firms across various sectors. It is important to understand that all such movements are not just a result of compensation factors. Organisations’ responses to COVID, flexible working, job security, vision and growth are influencing employees to pursue opportunities that offer better pay, new challenges and more flexibility, and a culture of choice. Hence, organizations should focus on providing flexibility, a diverse and inclusive work culture replete with ample growth and learning and upskilling opportunities for their employees. By taking these steps, they will move toward creating sustainable workplaces built on the foundation of resilience, innovation and agility.

(The writer is Country Lead, Wiley India)


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