In November 2021, I wrote about the Great Resignation as a signal for the future of work. Since then, a lot has changed but much remains to be done to co-create a future where all people thrive.
Our hustle culture has left many overwhelmed, disinterested, and burned out. With increasing costs and familial responsibilities, work is a necessary function of survival, but many are left craving for something different. Over the past few years, more than 4 million Americans across the country have joined the Great Resignation, while others “quietly quit” or are suffering in silence. The impact is even more dire for women and people from marginalized backgrounds.
For many, the Great Resignation was simply an abandonment of toxicity, which means leaders have an unprecedented opportunity to reset organizational culture, once and for all. The Great Resignation and the aftermath are a signal that the future of work cannot be ignored. Below are some updated recommendations as you navigate this new, increasingly interesting new normal.
Vulnerability is not the norm, especially within our organizations. We are all afraid in some way, but leaders who can embrace and model vulnerability within the workplace are the most effective. Vulnerable leaders are more likely to create wholehearted cultures where employees feel comfortable and confident being their authentic selves, feel psychologically safe, and are not afraid to take risks. Vulnerable leaders can make a choice to have courageous conversations and utilize storytelling to foster greater community, connection, and overall courage.
Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as core values
Most diversity programs fail because organizations fail to use tactics that actually move the needle. Organizations cannot resort to old tactics to solve long-lasting problems. If these tactics worked, why do we still have the same problems? Organizations desiring to commit fully to DEI must be consistent in their efforts, monitor their progress, and set up mechanisms for accountability. If you care about all of your employees, DEI will become one of your core values and you will do whatever it takes to live into these values regardless of the state of the economy.
Prioritize Mental Health and well-being
Mental health challenges are the norm in today’s workplace, and it’s time to get serious about the work culture we create and whether it fosters wellbeing. Last year, the US Surgeon General released a new report revealing the significant role that organizations play in promoting the health and well-being of their employees and communities. Beyond access to mental health treatment, we need to create flexibility in scheduling and workload to create more balance and time for rest.
Invest in your people
Leaders at all levels of an organization can benefit from coaching to help them navigate challenges, while prioritizing their own mental wellbeing. Leaders must show up with vulnerability, demonstrate empathy, be flexible, and most importantly, build a culture of belonging.
Executive and peer coaching can support this work. In addition to coaching, research has shown the benefit of mentorship and sponsorship in the workplace for employees of all levels. These, including social capital, are required to succeed in a hybrid, ever-changing workplace.
Furthermore, new skills are needed. The skills of the past will not carry us into the future. This new focus on skills must include and prioritize soft skills. Soft skills are what will allow us to have a more human-centered approach in life and work.
Plan for the future
We live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world which means there is no foolproof way to prepare for the future. Our uncertainty does not mean that we cannot take steps to prepare for the future of work in 2023 and beyond.
Leaders have a unique opportunity to borrow the best attributes from the past and merge them with the more flexible and psychologically safe practices they discovered during the last three years. An overhaul of company culture requires leadership to be honest, thoughtful, and intentional about the organizational practices that will best meet the needs of today’s workforce.
Are you planning for the future? What have you done and what will you do to co-create a workplace you’d feel proud and comfortable belonging to?