Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

COVID-19 seems so last year, what can a learn about it now?

I’m sick of the pandemic and don’t want to read more about it.

Well, remember the expression credited to Spanish philosopher George Santayana, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

Read what three senior human resources (HR) leaders in global organizations have shared in the last year about their learnings from COVID – Thoughts and lessons we’d be prudent to remember to reap some good out of the pandemic.

Taboo no more – Mental Health at Work

HR has long been an advocate for people in their organizations, striving to ensure that employees are equipped, developed and supported to be the engine that drives the business.

The pandemic “opened up space to put the topics of mental health, wellbeing, and having a 3600 understanding of an employee on the table among all employees with a care-taking role in the organization” according to Mauricio Pordomingo, Vice President Talent at PepsiCo Europe

The lesson here is that all facets of an individual’s life affect their performance at work. We’ve knowing this intellectually for years and the last two years have required direct discussions about home situations, work/life balance, health, and family circumstances. On an obvious level, we’ve been in our colleagues’ homes through video calls, seeing a side of them we hadn’t necessarily seen previously. The result being the necessity for specific conversations with the employee and their people leaders to identify and enact tangible solutions for their situations and experience.

How do we keep these hot or difficult topics of mental health and wellbeing open in a respectful and supportive manner?

“There’s a need to give employees space to share their emotions, talk about how they feel, and provide varying levels of support and care as needed” according to Washington Munetsi, HR Director Operations Nestlé

For PepsiCo, they helped make mental health more mainstream and break the societal taboo by featuring mental health in their Lays Christmas advertising campaign to consumers.
See last week’s blog about the Feelings Wheel to understand more about emotions, here.

Vulnerability and Leadership

Past experience became useless at the onset of lockdowns. Leaders felt and might have appeared more vulnerable as they didn’t have the answers nor much relevant experience to rely on.

“We didn’t have a play book for handling a pandemic and the negative impact it would have on peoples’ situations” Christopher Kirkpatrick, Vice President Human Resources Adidas Canada

This uncertainty and fear required people leaders to step into spaces with which they weren’t necessarily comfortable. It required and still does require agility, curiosity and empathy when dealing with others.

As Chris says,

“It forced breaking walls down, creating a space for true dialogue, forcing everyone into who they actually are by being exposed – [Leaders had to say] I’m here to listen and to ultimately grow you once I understand better.”

Adidas Canada broke down these walls with (i) monthly templated touch points to check in with employee’s wellbeing and to keep engagement during a difficult time; (ii) quarterly cross-departmental “ask me anything” sessions; and (iii) matching people for 10,000 virtual coffees.

True Accessibility and Inclusivity

Many of the articles I write, and read for that matter, focus on workplace environments that are predominately offices. The vast majority of workers actually don’t work in offices. My background at Nestlé and P&G Inc remind me of the 100,000’s of employees who are desk-free, working in factories, trucks and other non-desk situations.
Working from home, restrictions on business travel and key workers only physically present in a workplace allowed for true accessibility. Companies were forced to create new and different connections to desk-free employees.

“Desk-free employees were given direct connections to the systems within our factory environment. This resulted within record time in more streamlined operations and full inclusion. The workload shifted from paperwork to more digitalization” said Washington, Munetsi

What were your learnings from the last 931 days?

Which ideas and concepts from this article would be helpful for you to explore further for your organization?

What might be helpful for you and your team to have greater success, resilience and satisfaction?

Book a complimentary coaching session with me here to explore how to help you motivate, influence and inspire your people.