Two years ago, quite abruptly, the working world many of us were used to changed. Many people who had previously spent their entire careers office-bound, suddenly found themselves working from home.
With this rapid shift to remote working it is understandable that the initial priority was about the short term. Is everyone safe? How are people’s friends and families?
As the pandemic went on, the focus shifted to enabling people to be productive at home. For most this meant focusing on technology, both hardware and software, which would enable employees to not only do their work, but also to be more collaborative and more engaged remotely.
But as lockdown conditions stubbornly continued on, dealing with longer term care issues such as physical and mental health became the priority.
More recently the focus has shifted once again – this time to rules and protocols for staying at home or returning to work (or a bit of both).
One thing that all of the above shifts in focus have in common is that they have been driven by external and mostly short-term factors. They have also directed significant focus to the short-term, which has in turn distracted us from giving sufficient attention to the longer term – particularly when it comes to people’s growth, empowerment and development.
The result: employees, especially top performers – who have often experienced genuine care and found a way to be highly productive from their bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms – are now leaving their jobs despite their success and positive experiences in search of new opportunities to grow.
In hindsight, as leaders we have tended to focus on issues which impact the here and now at the expense of focusing on our employees’ growth and development. If we hope to maintain our people’s trust, support and loyalty in a sustainable way in our new remote and hybrid worlds, we are going to have to pay far more attention to our people’s futures.
So, what can we do? Here are a few ideas.