As we navigate the roadmap to easing COVID restrictions, tasting new freedoms due to hitting vaccination targets, many people will be holding on to hope that 2022 will be the glimmer of light providing the world that we knew before COVID.
While we will be granted pre-existing freedoms, 2022, and in fact, the future of work as we once knew it, has changed for good.
Over the past two years businesses and employees have shown that they are able to adapt their systems, processes and business model to survive throughout a crisis. With 2022 having higher travel and mobility on the cards, we will see an influx in COVID cases, meaning businesses will need to maintain their current levels of adaptability to survive. Snap lock-downs, special restrictions, masks and on-going labels of high-risk areas will soon become a normal occurrence, meaning the workplace landscape will continue to be vulnerable and will need to continue to be adaptable. We know businesses and employees can continue with the physical adaptability, however, 2022 will be a year where businesses will need to allow their business adaptability to be driven by cruise control, while they shift their attention more to their employees, and their mental wellbeing and mindset.
Already, we have seen a vast increase in workplace fatigue, burnout, mental ill health, bullying and harassment in workplaces due to the volatile landscape and uncertainty the past two years have dealt us.
When employees begin to experience yet another year of COVID speak, businesses will need to quickly and efficiently address the mental aspect in their business and strive to keep their employees positive and thriving. Businesses need to prioritise placing importance, time and energy in aiding the endurance of employees’ stamina and wellbeing, throughout another year of uncertainty.
We already know a ‘great resignation’ is looming, as we await the opening of international and national borders, which will prove to strain and stretch many businesses across Australia. However, if we don’t continue to prioritise employee wellbeing and stamina throughout this period, the resignation risk to your business will be higher.
Similarly, in industries that are facing skill-shortages due to the lack of international travel and migration over the past two years, in conjunction with this looming ‘great resignation’, offering a greater focus on your people through continual training, development and wellbeing initiatives as a priority will ensure that your business is a competitor in attracting talent and promotes retention.
While businesses begin the campaign in 2022 of positivity and mental health focus, many employees have had a taste of the remote work landscape and will want to continue to work in a hybrid way for the rest of their career. In fact, this particular model will greatly affect your employees retention and talent acquisition. While many businesses are desperate to go ‘back to normal’ in a face-to-face environment, the workplace landscape has changed for good. Employees will want the ability to choose how and where they work. The pandemic has proven that remote work is possible and many employees have shifted their lifestyles to suit and are enjoying it’s benefits, like gaining back time in their day without the commute, being able to be more involved in carer duties, or moving to a more remote location. Many employees want the option to have a hybrid workplace, where they can have a balance of face-to-face and remote work, depending on their workload and work needs.
Though COVID has shifted the work landscape to be remote, with increased freedoms on the horizon, employees will want to continue to work in ways which not only benefit the company but benefits the employee as well. It’s been proven to work throughout a crisis, so business mentality must adapt to realise that this trend of balance and flexibility is not going anywhere, and will work in good times too.
While COVID will continue to cause some major and minor disruptions to business and society in 2022, ensuring that your businesses focus and priorities are firmly on your people and their development and wellbeing, combined with allowing your business room to continue to be adaptable will see your business thrive throughout another year where we try and find our feet amidst the stabilisation and integration of COVID. COVID won’t be our last crisis, so by and ingraining adaptability and agility into your business now, and prioritising your people, means you'll be able to take on whatever comes your way.
About the author:
Katriina Tahka (CEO at A Human Agency - AHA: www.a-ha.com.au)
Katrina is an HR guru with a special interest in business’ success through empowering teams. CEO + Founder of A-HA, Katriina is passionate about building inclusive workplaces where all people thrive and realise their full potential. Healthy teams with engaged people deliver both business and community success.