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Five people priorities for organisations coming out of the pandemic

Mar 12, 2021

With the end of the pandemic in sight, organisations need to find new ways of managing staff. Patrick Gallen suggests new priorities to ensure organisations get their people management right.

Many organisations are currently reflecting on their people challenges and opportunities coming out of the pandemic and how the new world of work will look as they transition to a hybrid remote working model of some sort. What should be the top priorities for Chief People Officers and HR departments when planning for the phase of work?

Build critical skills

As you would expect, building critical skills and competencies is number one on the list, particularly as organisations are now starting to identify some of those skills gaps arising during the pandemic and the vast plethora of digital skills required going forward. In a recent survey, building critical skills and competencies was a top priority for around 68% of the HR leaders. The challenge for them and those who work in learning and development in organisations is that it is difficult to ascertain the current skills gaps as things are changing so quickly.

Organisational design

Organisational design and change management are second on the list. It addresses the fundamental questions: are our current structure, lines of reporting and functional areas of responsibility reflective of the new world of work? Are they 'fit-for-purpose? If not, how do we make a change while still maintaining business as usual? Change management and helping organisations to deal with that change has always been an important area for organisations as they grow and evolve, but as we often see in practice, managers and leaders aren't equipped to lead change, and they often over-manage and under-lead. This is exacerbated by employees who are fatigued from all the change.

Leadership

Current and future leadership bench is number three. In practice, I see the demand for a new cadre of digital leaders across organisations, who are agile, can lead distributed teams with a focus on outputs and understand the importance of empowerment.

The future of work

The future of work and employee experience is at number four, and here, the key challenge is around enhancing and protecting the organisation's culture in this new world of work. For years, work design focused on efficiency and has left many organisations with rigid structures, workflows, outdated job roles and networks that don't meet today's needs or flex with fast-changing conditions, like we see today.

Health and wellbeing

Finally, number five is the workforce's health and wellbeing, which includes mental health and resilience. With a remote workforce, it is often difficult to ascertain how people are feeling. We now know from our experience that isolation and loneliness can be one of many challenges coming out of the pandemic.

This is a period of unprecedented change and an exciting opportunity to shape the future of work. As Jack Welch said: "If the rate of external change is greater than the rate of internal change, disaster is imminent". Doing nothing is not an option.

Patrick Gallen is Partner in People and Change Consulting at Grant Thornton.