No One-Size-Fits-All Solution
When we take a step back to evaluate how the pandemic changed the world of work, we may be hit with the obvious takeaway: the larger acceptance of remote and hybrid work. It’s true, this shift in working style has impacted most employees, but it’s equally as important to consider how this change has impacted business’s ability to continue fostering engagement, and to rebuild or maintain a strong company culture in the face of such a monumental structural shift. Prior to the pandemic, companies generally held more control over the workplace norms. Many employees, by nature, or in response to adverse conditions, were inclined to adapt to the corporate or industry definitions of success and professionalism. The dichotomy of a work-home environment can dilute or diversify these definitions, causing many of us to experience a “career crisis” or reevaluate our career motivators.
As a whole, life as we knew it came to a screeching halt, transforming us from a busy community with plenty of external interests, responsibilities, hobbies, and social obligations to one with few distractions, little-to-no work relief, and with home now serving as the epicenter for all work- and home-life activities, largely without our support systems. The relief valves were gone, and from the C-suite to the junior level, we were all humanized. We were all experiencing varying degrees of loss, such as loved ones, aspects of our identities, social lives, and jobs.
Amid all of this and with the heightened focus on political and social values, it seemed creating safe spaces in our workplace became all the more important. All of a sudden, we had significantly more time to evaluate our ideal work-life balance and our ideal company culture, and to consider if these cherished values could be attained by, or were even shared by, our current employer. This question led many to uproot long-standing careers in hopes of finding better environments. While this trend may eventually settle, it appears that companies will continue to be challenged to move toward an Employee First Culture in order to improve engagement in remote or hybrid structures and retain and attract talent.
Businesses will now need to understand their personnel and collaborate to measure success and professionalism. There will be no one-size-fits-all solution, but growth in engagement and retention will follow a shift in mindset from workers acclimating to an established company culture to a company working to build a culture that genuinely represents the values of its workers through feedback and partnership.