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Time for Organizations to Start Preparing for the Post-pandemic Recovery

Focusing on people now will help pave the way for a new chapter, harnessing digital and agile capabilities through a human lens.

As most of the western world grapples with the huge changes to our daily lives and ways of working, it might sound strange to say ‘start preparing for recovery’. But, as China has shown us, thinking about life post-pandemic is critical if we are to bounce-back and thrive as individuals and organizations in, potentially, a very different world.

At SHL, we have spent the past few weeks helping our clients to navigate the path in supporting their people and maintaining their businesses throughout COVID-19. We’ve had a huge focus on moving to virtual and partnering with organizations as we adjust to life working remotely alongside home life.

The foundations are being built for new ways of working, but as this slowly becomes a new normal, we must shift our focus to what lies ahead to position for the hardest transition. Recovery.

Josh Bersin wrote about ‘The Big Reset’. Following the 2008 financial crisis, we’ve experienced 11 years of hypergrowth, business obsession with the need for transformation, to be agile, to go digital. Yet, individuals often experience fatigue. Well-being, mental health issues, and burnout are serious concerns. As a society, we have not solved these issues, and rarely successfully transformed our businesses and ways of working.

The current very difficult and sad situation also presents an opportunity. To forge a link between humans, technology, and digital experiences for the greater good. Forced isolation enables us to identify what we value as humans and in many ways, accelerates the need for sustainable transformation in a uniquely human way.

Life on the Other Side

Getting in the optimal position for recovery starts with a vision of what the future could hold. How will people and organizations thrive in a post-COVID-19 world? How will the market and competition change? How will customer needs evolve? In all assessment solutions, we nurture a ‘start with the end in mind’ approach. And it is critical now, although more challenging than usual, to understand the phases towards recovery, to pinpoint organizational priorities, and dare to imagine a new and different existence. For many, this will undoubtedly involve working in a more agile, remote, and collaborative way. It will certainly demand increased digitalization and new skills.

Getting in the optimal position for recovery starts with a vision of what the future could hold.

Scenario Planning

Leaders will currently be embroiled in very meticulous scenario planning as various future outcomes are explored and interrogated. Without doubt, this will focus on financials and global workforce capacity. How many organizations are also exploring the capability and bench strength within their top teams to deliver results in changing environments? Many businesses are currently facing tough decisions around downsizing and re-skilling their workforce. Some are more fortunate in being able to identify opportunities to evolve and transform. And, all are facing novel and rapidly changing situations with critical implications for the longevity of their people and organizations. Not every leader will be best placed to manage every scenario.

Understanding leadership capability, likely strengths, and gaps can help companies to make more informed decisions, and strengthen the road to recovery. Even before this crisis, leaders have spotted the crucial link between behaviors and organizational performance. A financial plan on paper might look good, but do you have the right people, in the right place to bring this to fruition?

Lessons in Transformation

There is a lot we can learn from organizations that have historically been effective at transforming their businesses. Netflix, Amazon, Apple are companies often cited as leaders in this field and there is something they all have in common. They create a higher purpose– away from the day to day activities of their business, focused on their role in society, in communities, for ensuring well-being, sustainability, and building better lives. And they galvanize support for this and build capability to deliver through their people. They keep moving forwards embracing new technologies and business models, failing fast when required. And they view innovation as a strategic capability.

This has never been more important.

Start Today

Right now, we all have a role to play in helping our society to transform and re-emerge following this unprecedented period in our lives. We have started already, and people and organizations in the East are forging the way. It is about being human. Developing the behavioral muscles now (agile ways of working, pragmatism, going digital, balancing work and life, and critically, productive remote working) which will aid recovery and, in time, enable a new chapter of productivity through working digitally, enabling balance and well-being, and building a sustainable future.

Learn how SHL can help you prepare for recovery through a free trial of our Virtual Solution Suite.

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Sarah McLellan

Sarah is a business psychologist who spends her days seeking to understand and optimize the power of people to help individuals and organizations flourish. As Director of European Professional Services at SHL, she’s responsible for an international team who design talent solutions to help solve business challenges for hundreds of companies around the world. Sarah has been partnering with organizations for over 15 years, consulting across talent acquisition and talent management. She is passionate about optimizing the role people science can play in shaping the future of work.

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