The world has irrevocably changed; and slowly people are coming to the realisation that it will continue to look different from life and work as we knew it pre-Covid.

So now that the vaccination programme is reducing serious health risks, and the Government is mapping out our pathway to economic recovery – we need to ensure our organisations are not only fit for purpose, but ready for the rebound from this pandemic.

The Challenge

People are at the heart of any organisation. As leaders and managers guiding our businesses forward through the next 12-24 months, what is needed to effectively support our people?

As individuals, we’ve all been impacted by the pandemic. Much has been asked of us, and our resilience has shone through. Moving into the post-pandemic world, more is going to be asked of us again – and as employers we have a responsibility to ensure our people are passionate, focused, competent and productive.

So what will it take?

In order for us to get the best out of our people, we need to review how we develop and support them – and that means understanding that the needs of our workforce have changed.

We’ve asked people to adjust to furlough (on full or reduced pay), and sometimes to return to work after a period of time off. Or we’ve asked them to work from home, work flexibly or work within Social Distancing guidelines – changing their routines, environments and activities. Now we’re about to ask them to change again.

We have a duty of care to our employees. We have done our best to safeguard jobs, and now we need to ensure those efforts don’t go to waste. We not only need to review their basic needs, but their skills, fulfilment and emotional/mental wellbeing needs too:

Support for employees: Are they financially stable? Has their capacity changed? Is the environment allowing them to be productive? Do they have skill gaps that training could address? Or skills we’ve not been utilising? Are they feeling satisfied or fulfilled by the work they are delivering? Do they need emotional support? Has their mental wellbeing been affected?

Support for managers: (As for employees, with the addition of) Do they need additional training or support to help them manage people who are struggling to cope or adapt, or are fatigued by the experiences of the last year – who may need renewed engagement, motivation and purpose?

Support for leaders: (As for managers, with the addition of) Do they need space to reconnect with and redefine the vision for the organisations they lead? Do they need support in finding the right balance between the needs of their employees and the commercial needs of the business? Do they need time off to recharge?

That’s a lot on top of the recent priorities of survival, adaptation or managing the boom. So what can an organisation do to plan, adjust and develop the right support for all its people?

What’s worked?

One thing that’s worked really well for my clients is introducing DISC Behavioural Profiling. It shares insights into our communication preferences, our response to change, the type of environments we work best in, our strengths as well as potential areas for improvement – but it considers them contextually – both through our natural styles as well as the adaptive styles we use in the workplace.

This has helped individuals understand themselves better, given them an understanding of how others’ styles differ, and helped leaders and managers spot ways they can better support individuals as well as teams. That then helps them communicate and delegate more effectively, and recognise when they may need to adapt in order to get the best out of their people.

In a world of uncertainty and continuous change – this understanding brings compassion, cohesion and clarity for people and the organisations that are depending on them to rebuild Scotland’s future.

Way forward

If we ignore the cumulative impact on our people, we run the risk of depreciating our human capital. If we invest in and look after our people, then our organisations, our communities and the Scottish economy stand to come out of this stronger.