2021: The Great Reset

Today’s post comes to us from the executive director of The Workforce Institute, Dr. Chris Mullen, Ph.D., SHRM-SCP, SPHR.

January is, by its very nature, a month of new beginnings. At the start of a new year, some make resolutions and even if you don’t do anything quite so formal, most of us, I think, take a look at where we are and consider if there are changes we want to make in the year to come.

Will this be the year you finally try a triathlon? Or sign up for that cooking class you’ve been eyeing? When Spring comes, will you get around to planting that wildflower garden you’ve been talking about? That’s the great thing about January, the whole year lies ahead of you and you can be intentional about taking a few steps to make it look the way you want it to.

I’ve always felt that January is a good month for organizations to do this same kind of reflection and one of our annual workplace predictions for 2021 gets at this very idea:

“The Great Reset: Work will be (re)shaped in real time as organizations decide which pandemic-era practices stay and go.”

2020 was an incredibly challenging and difficult year for so many reasons, not the least of which was a-hopefully-once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. As bad as things were, we also saw organizations demonstrate never-before-seen creativity and resilience with many of them doing things they themselves would have told you were impossible last January.

We’re still in the thick of the pandemic at the moment with both infection and death rates reaching frightening heights. But there’s also been a truly heroic effort to make a vaccine in record time, and the process of getting these miracle vaccines into the arms of the global population is underway – there’s a light at the end of this long tunnel. The question is: what should organizations be thinking about as that light approaches?

Over the next year, organizations will need to make conscious and deliberate decisions about policies, processes, and practices. From employee safety and well-being to remote work, equity between those who can work from home and those who can’t, and even basic business models, organizations will need to move beyond reacting and begin to refocus and reinvent. Which pandemic-era policies will stay and which will go? Which will be refined? Which “old ways” of work will come back and which are gone forever?

These questions may take years to fully answer, but organizations should start thinking about them now.

The thing is, there’s always the chance that you’ll blow your knee out right before that triathlon you’ve been training for. You may never be able to make a roux without singeing the bottom of the pot. Sometimes a critter will get to all those seeds you planted before the flowers have a chance to bloom. That’s okay. Calamities great and small are always a possibility. But the time you spend investing in something you care about, that brings you joy, that creates the possibility for great success – however you define it – is always time well spent.

Like the old saying goes, “change is the only constant”, and organizations that start thinking now about how to answer the hard questions, embrace uncertainty, and adapt for the future – those who prepare for the Great Reset – will be in a better position to succeed down the road when life returns to some semblance of normal.

What are the questions your organization is thinking about in the New Year? Tell us about them in the comments and click here to read our full report on The Great Reset.

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