Scott Cawood: Investing in post-pandemic workforces through total reward

As we trend toward the recovery phases of the economic meltdown triggered by Covid-19, people will begin returning to their workplaces. Many organisations will welcome back furloughed workers.  

The workforce we had prior to the pandemic will not be the same that returns. The pure mental and physical fatigue that will accompany these workers as they return will require employers to rethink how they engage and interact. Previous people systems, like performance management and annual reviews will need to be rethought, along with most total reward programmes.

A heavy emphasis will be required for reconnecting people to one another and the organisation. Many employees were not just working remotely, they were actually doing work from their home, or at the front-line if essential, under unusual amounts of stress and anxiety. 

People will be returning to work fatigued and depleted. A well-planned focus on renewal and integration is key for the next several months and leaders will need to be front and centre. The disruption of the organisational culture will need to be addressed and will afford an opportunity to make changes that may previously have been too challenging. 

Remote work arrangements and flexible work schedules implemented during the lockdown have become highly valued and sought after by employees. So, going back to the nine-to-five office mentality should be avoided. Our ability to accommodate these arrangements and incorporate them into our formal policies will allow us to be more resilient in this post-pandemic workplace. 

Wellbeing programmes will have a greater impact and will take on a more holistic approach to include physical, financial, mental and emotional wellbeing. Temporary programmes put in place during the pandemic will become long-term fixtures in the workplace and a high-value benefit for current and future employees. Mental health care needs are on the rise as a result of quarantine, family separation and tragedy. Employers are placing these on top of their healthcare agenda.  

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HR is in a significant position to leverage the long-term approach of total reward critical to operations and business continuity. Our next steps to recovery will be to invest in the needs of our post-pandemic workforces through our total reward strategies.

Scott Cawood is president and chief executive officer at global compensation and total reward association WorldatWork