The importance of leadership in the pandemic

Recently we shared our 2021 workplace predictions. While considering predictions in such a turbulent time is a challenge in itself, one thing I’m sure about is that our people and the flexibility and adaptability we ask of them will continue to be the most critical element through this year and beyond.

As we slowly navigate this ever-changing Covid-19 crisis, we need to take the opportunity to examine how our leaders engage, support, develop and motivate our people. Many organisations we speak to today feel the rapid shift to remote working was, on the whole, a success. They predict significant office-related cost reductions and report uplifts in productivity as they commit to long-term or even permanent remote-working models. But while business may be stable, evidence is starting to appear that many of our employees are struggling internally and with some studies suggesting the productivity gains we perceived early on may be evaporating, is the bubble about to burst? 

Chris Marsh, a principal research analyst for 451 Marsh Research says: “For many remote workers in the pandemic age, the transition has been hasty and involuntary, clouding the outlook for future productivity” and recognises that for many the reality is more painful than positive.  

In our predictions eBook, I talked about the emotional debt that organisations are building with their people. Across the UK, we have seen a tremendous spirit of ‘keep calm and carry on’ and an outpouring of gratitude from those whose jobs have not been lost or badly affected. But patience is wearing thin. 

The same 451 study reports:

“About 35% of workers surveyed said they felt more productive but not more engaged, stating that they were struggling with anxiety, not feeling focused and a lack of alignment with their work team.” 

People are settled into remote working, operations are ticking along, and for many business leaders, that’s job done. But engagement levels are slipping and this presents very real risks for productivity and talent retention.  

So how do we turn this tide? Our leaders are the key; how they inspire, motivate and support your people needs to adapt and evolve. We need to look to leaders who:  

• Lead with resilience and energy  

• Become diverse in mindset and approach  

• Articulate and work towards a shared vision with their teams  

• Coach and develop people to evolve and succeed through disruption  

• Recognise and reward contribution  

Gartner reported that 28% of HR leaders feel their leaders are not equipped to lead change. This quite simply must change. Learning to operate effectively within digital workplaces is critical to this and leaders must learn how to ‘be there’ without being there and how to really translate critical leadership skills into virtual and hybrid worlds. 

How do I ensure our workplace is ready for 2021?

At Future Worx we help organisations create and operate in digital workplaces that are both productive and engaging – talk to us about how we can help you.  Book your free consultation with Future Worx today.

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