Change Is Coming: The Impact on Your Organization’s Culture
By Vernon Gudger, MBA, SHRM-SCP, Senior HR & Payroll Generalist, Managed Services - Human Resources
Change is coming…
After six months of quarantine, six months of telework, six months of lost income, six months of masks, six months of “fake news,” and even six months of social change–to name a few things–many Americans are now wondering what’s next for their employers, families, and communities. As the debate continues in our nation regarding how we should address our current health pandemic, including how/when we should get back to our normal lives, many employers and employees are looking for insight as to what is legally allowed and what would be a best employment practice during these trying times.
Throughout the pandemic, conversations around workplace policies at the federal, state, and organizational levels have increased and evolved to address the limitations caused by the pandemic. Organizations are starting to engage in conversations around when and how to bring employees back into the workplace. Any organization currently having these conversations should understand how different approaches may impact the organization’s culture.
Some organizations have made the decision to continue a remote working environment through the end of this year and some through the first quarter of next year, while other organizations are fatigued of the remote working environment and are transitioning employees back into the workplace even now. Asking employees to return to work with special accommodations, or rules to promote social distancing and a healthy work environment, seems to be a reasonable next step for some organizations.
The future of the pandemic is unclear, and some employers are concerned about the ongoing viability of their organizations if they do not get back to normal. However, limitations such as safety concerns, childcare, and federal and state laws are restricting their decision-making. In addition, many white collar, office professionals now believe that their job responsibilities can be performed as well, and sometimes better, through teleworking.
Employers in this position should collaborate with their employees to determine an effective return to work plan that allows for organizational effectiveness while considering employee limitations and preferences. As executives at nonprofit organizations make decisions on how to move forward in these unprecedented times, they should be mindful that the court of public opinion, which can be internal or external, can have a negative impact on the organization.
Being transparent during the decision-making process, while communicating frequently so staff understands the rationale for your decisions as well as the benefits, will go a long way. Every nonprofit organization has a mission, and leaders should help employees understand how the decisions they are making now with regard to workforce are in the organization’s best interests. Many leaders who had longstanding convictions that employees need to be in the office in order to be effective have evolved their perceptions.
I predict that we will see a shift in the job market to account for candidates who place a high value on teleworking policies. While the pandemic took many organizations from an office-based workforce to one that was or still is fully remote, I believe the future will be a blend of the two. While there can be improved efficiencies by removing the daily commute, many people feel there is a loss of team bonding, collaboration, and professional growth and development when we remove in-person interaction among colleagues. The challenge for leaders is to develop a plan that encompasses the greatest benefits from both scenarios. I predict that organizations who are successful in this regard will increase employee retention, improve client service, and be much stronger moving forward.
The overall idea that organizations and employees need to embrace is change. Many employees have settled into the remote working environment, and it will be a transition for them to return to the office. Organizations must rethink what the future of the workforce looks like given our experiences over the past six months. The entire world has had to adapt during this pandemic, and the entire world will have to adapt to life after the pandemic. While we are waiting for the post-pandemic way of life to begin, and as we search for the “new normal,” as an HR professional, I believe the greatest likelihood of success will require adaptation to a work environment that is beneficial to anti-maskers and germophobes, parents and childless families, and executive directors and employees alike.
Marcum’s Managed Human Resources Services team is here to support organizations with any HR needs that arise during this time of crisis and beyond. If we can be of assistance, please reach out to the partner in charge, Simone Putnam at firstname.lastname@example.org.