A Mckinsey Global Institute report in 2017 attempted to forecast what kinds of jobs would lose relevance, and what new job roles would emerge. In less than three years, a deadly virus hit the world with unexpected ferocity. The last two years have changed lives worldwide in a way no other single event has. Families got hit by untimely deaths, companies have closed down, national economies have taken a beating.
A lot has changed in the area of employability too. Many job roles are no longer so important for professional success. Other job roles now look more important. Additionally, employees would also need to bring behavioral changes in themselves to stand out in a post-Covid world.
In a way, the pandemic probably hastened some aspects of the Mckinsey report, which had talked about a 2030 horizon for its forecasts. This blog will look at this aspect of employee training and development.
The brave new post-pandemic world
Organizations have got used to employees working from remote locations. Marketing teams have realized that some products and services have become more popular. Logistics teams have adjusted their workflows to adapt to restricted movements between countries. Learning and development teams have had to curate employee training and development methods from scratch. In fact, the entire business landscape has changed, as this recent Mckinsey article explained. That is why employees must prepare themselves to stay relevant.
Reinventing the employee
Employees will need to reinvent themselves in two major areas.
- The first is in picking up new skills that will be essential in their existing roles. Employee training and development programs of most organizations will take care of these training needs. For those which don’t, employees can go ahead and enroll in a good upskill program outside.
- The second is probably even more important. There will be several behavioral changes employees will need to show. This is comparatively more difficult than learning a new skill.
Let us talk about both of these in the subsequent paragraphs.
Behaviors that will determine post-pandemic winners
From the time of Charles Darwin, we have heard that those organisms which can adapt by making internal changes in response to external changes are most likely to survive. An oft repeated story is that of the disappearance of dinosaurs because they were not able to weather adverse situations.
Therefore, it is wrong to claim that adaptability and resilience are new behaviors that only became important now. They always have been. In our opinion, what has changed is the speed with which employees would need to adapt to changed circumstances. The pandemic has shown us the devastation on individuals, families, corporates, and entire countries because they did not adapt fast enough.
Just like the immunity that protected some people from the virus, employees will need to steel themselves to become resilient against adverse situations they might face. Today’s business environment is far more toxic than that during Darwin’s time, so employees will need to be mentally ‘fitter’ to survive. There are several benefits of employee training and development, but increasing the resilience of employees is not one of them. Employees need to work on their mental strength themselves.
3. New normal behaviors
Long after we have had the very last infection of this deadly virus, some behaviors would have become second nature to humans. Employees would need to be cognizant of these expectations so that others do not feel uncomfortable around them. These are a few behavioural changes that will become important:
- Everyone needs to respect the space of others, and here we are talking of physical space. After two years of social distancing, it will take some time for an arm around the shoulder or a warm hug to become entirely acceptable.
- The pandemic has driven home the importance of personal hygiene. Simple things which had become acceptable over the years will no longer be so. Sneezing or yawning without the mouth covered, sharing food from each other’s plates, cleaning hands with sanitizer or soap before touching common surfaces at the workplace are some behaviors which would need to go.
- Mental health has always been something that people were uncomfortable discussing candidly. After almost two years of grave personal loss to many, and endless hours of staying without social interaction by most, more people would be carrying mental scars than we care to admit. Employees need to be more sensitive to the state of mind of those around them, and act accordingly.
Skills that have become imperative in a post-pandemic world
a. Comfort with technology
Employees need to equip themselves with all the technical skills this will require. Most organizations have already put in place programs to upskill employees. Employees need to make the best use of those and keep abreast of the new technical demands of their job.
b. Better communication skills
Employees will have to get used to not meeting colleagues, clients, and vendors in person. Selling an idea or a product to someone becomes more difficult on a web conferencing or telephone call. Team bonding or engagement activities would most likely happen through virtual modes. In the absence of face-to-face verbal communication, effective written communication is another aspect that will need sharpening.
c. Awareness of security
As more and more business interactions go digital, the opportunities for digital theft will increase. The other factor that will complicate things is that a large percentage of employees would be working from home, making ring fencing of cybersecurity for the enterprise. This is why employees across the organization would need to equip themselves with basic cybersecurity skills to protect themselves and the organization.
The new, improved, post-pandemic employee
Not everything has been bad since last year. The pandemic has seen several individuals and organizations step up to help others in distress. Lessons have been learned all around on how to be resilient against very difficult situations. Days of enforced lockdown have seen people pick up and gradually master new hobbies and interests.
Humans have continued to inspire each other. We hope that the behaviors and skills discussed above will help employees become better versions of themselves. We would love for you to check out our employee training and development offerings and let us know how we can help you.