Ten Positive Things From The Pandemic: Society, Business, and Life

June 14, 2020 00:16:00
Ten Positive Things From The Pandemic: Society, Business, and Life
The Josh Bersin Company
Ten Positive Things From The Pandemic: Society, Business, and Life

Jun 14 2020 | 00:16:00

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Show Notes

The Coronavirus has created a lot of problems: unemployment, health, political fighting, and income inequality. But there are positives too. In this podcast I highlight ten positive things that are coming from the Pandemic, and many of these will last for years to come.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hi, this is Josh person. Welcome to Research-Based Perspectives on the ever-Changing World of Work, leadership, learning, and HR with a heavy dose of insights on the exciting world of HR technology. Hi, everyone. It seems like all we read about these days is negative things, police, violence, income inequality, sickness, lack of political alignment, but actually there's some really positive things going on. So what I'd like to do for the next couple of minutes is tell you about what I think are the 10 positive things that have come out of this pandemic that we can all look forward to feeling good about. And we do call this the big reset, by the way, and we've been doing lots and lots of research on it, so stay tuned for much, much more. The first is society has become closer together, and the way I think about it is we've all become more raw. Speaker 0 00:00:58 We can't really put a shell around our feelings anymore because we're all feeling exposed and vulnerable to the virus. So even in our conversations with some of the hardest nose business people, there's a whole discussion of care, forgiveness, patience, listening and thinking about the entire person, wellbeing, resilience. These are topics that we really didn't talk about in business during the last economic cycle, but now CEOs and CFOs and heads of HR are really focused on safety and listening. And this has affected our political life too, which leads me to number two. We've started a very healthy discussion about race, income inequality, and diversity. Now, this is a very complex topic, and in the United States, black Americans have been subject to 400 years of injustice, which has resulted in a gap in education, income, wealth, career, housing, and many, many other problems. And in the business community, we've tried to deal with this through incredibly hard work in diversity and inclusion. Speaker 0 00:02:10 And these are very well-intended investments of programs, pay equity, analysis, training, education, and even of affirmative action. But it hasn't really moved the needle, but now it is, according to the research that just came out this week, more than half of Americans now believe that Black Lives Matter is a good and important movement, and we're going to make some progress on policing, and we're going to make some progress on racial justice. So that's number two. Number three, we are now questioning the way we measure the economy. I've always felt, at least for the last four or five years at least, that the measures of the economy we have in the United States are really not fair. We look at gdp, which has no measure of equality. So one person could be making a trillion dollars and we would've a high GDP even though the rest of us would be in poverty. Speaker 0 00:03:01 We look at the stock market, which has very little reflection, if any of the economy or the wealth of the people in the country, and even the unemployment rate is biased. I just wrote an article this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics overstated the unemployment rate rather understated it by almost 3%, which is just staggering and for some reason doesn't want to correct it. I think we're going to get into a lot of discussions about how do we measure the health of the United States economy and the global economy. We don't look at things like healthcare and public health seriously, although now we do. And fourth, the issues of income inequality and racial inequity are also missing from most of our national measures. The reason I think this is a positive is we're all talking about this stuff now. We're talking about public health. We're talking about the death rate of different segments of Americans. Speaker 0 00:03:59 We're talking about the fact that we have an incredibly high rate of diabetes and obesity in the United States, and that these are directly contributing to public health. So I think we're gonna come out of this with some much better measures of what it means to be a strong economy. Fourth, companies are radically changing their resource allocations and where they spend their money. And this is something I talked about in March, but it's really happening. For example, target, Verizon, at and t, Lowe's, Walmart have all raised wages. They have pledged to keep people employed. They have increased benefits, they have given people long leaves. If they get sick, they are giving people sick pay to make sure they don't come to work when they're sick, on and on and on. Back in 2018, in early 2019, I looked at this in detail and I was very frustrated that most companies were generating enormous profits, a lot of which came from the corporate tax cuts, and they weren't increasing wages. Speaker 0 00:05:02 Wages were not keeping up with inflation. And as a result, most HR departments were worried about the financial wellbeing of their employees. Well, now we seem to be addressing that, and I think the pandemic has forced companies to put their money where their mouth is, and they're actually becoming pretty proud of it. The fifth positive is learning. Learning has become the center of HR again, now in most economic downturns, learning is cut. In fact, it's pretty predictable that during a recession, one of the first things you cut is the training budget. But that's actually not happening this time because this particular economic transformation isn't really a recession. It is a transformation. We are reorganizing our companies to go to market in different ways to respond to the public healthcare issues. And everybody's job has changed. Not only those of us that worked at home that now work at home, but the rest of us too. Speaker 0 00:06:04 So the consumption and the volume of training is explosive. The amount of online learning has gone up tremendously. Now in the public education market, there's a lot of research that seems to show it's not going well, and I'm not really qualified to give you much detail on that, but I have a feeling it will go better over time and people will become more comfortable with digital education at various levels of our life. Sixth, the HR tech space is being completely transformed. Now, this is around the time of year that I start writing my big HR tech report for the following year, and I won't give away some of the secrets, but the big story is that the HR tech vendors are really responding fast. There's a whole set of tools for Back to work that have been invented for employee monitoring and attestation and social distancing, better and better tools for learning in the flow of work, employee experience, tools to measure daily, minute by minute, hour by hour, the experiences or culture or frustrations that our people are having during the pandemic. Speaker 0 00:07:10 And all of the tools for things like performance management are now merging with work management tools to create productivity systems, which is what we really wanted out of HR in the first place. So the HR tech market is becoming healthier and healthier, and we're not simply focused on fixing user experiences. Now we're actually building systems that people need, which is fantastic. Seventh, I think the concept of corporate citizenship is now becoming clear and it is taking hold. Last year, as many of you know, the Business Roundtable put together a manifesto on corporate responsibility. And if you read it, it was kind of a bunch of platitudes. It talked about taking care of all the different stakeholders in business and the need for capitalism to be more inclusive, which by the way, was written about in the Conscious capitalism movement 15 or 20 years ago. So it wasn't any new ideas, and I felt at the time that it was a nice press release, but probably didn't have that much impact on the real actions going on in companies. Speaker 0 00:08:20 Well, now it is companies are doing amazing things to improve race relations. They're taking political action. They're having open conversations inside the company because as you know, employees come to work with the same fears and frustrations that they have at home, and they want to talk about them at work. And we're starting to build a more conscious business community that understands that we as companies have to exist in the society and be a positive part of the society. And I think that is being forced by the frustrations and fears of the pandemic. Eighth, there's a growing, understanding, awareness, and comfort with psychology in business. Now, many of you might be IO psychologists, and so you've been thinking about this a long time, but the average business person doesn't have any education in psychology, probably didn't take a course in psychology in school, and just kind of bumbles through their career trying to figure out how to get along with people and succeed. Speaker 0 00:09:27 All of a sudden, it's becoming very, very okay to talk about positive psychology, resilience, response to trauma, mental health, and all sorts of psychological terms at work. And this is a good thing because work and business is all about people. You may think business is about innovation or technology or the economy. It's really not. It's impossible to run a successful company without serious attention to the issues of people and organization and relationships and rewards and incentives. And psychology is a critical part of that. And I think the health side of the pandemic has forced us to really take some time and think about the psychological wellness of our workforce. Ninth, we have become very conscious of family issues. In most companies, families are a data element in the hrms, we know how many children somebody has, and if they're married, they're, they're an issue in the wellbeing or the benefits system because we know if they have children. Speaker 0 00:10:35 But that's about it. We kind of told people they needed to be work at a certain time, and if their kids are sick, that's too bad. If they want to take a day off, they can take a day off, but it counts against their vacation. All of a sudden, we're being very flexible and understanding of people's family issues. We're seeing CEOs, kids and dogs on Zoom. We're suddenly taking time to let people come to meetings late if they have kids at home. And it's become a much more forgiving environment. In fact, one of the other issues that's interesting that's going on is we've decomposed the hierarchy in companies simply because of Zoom. Zoom itself doesn't allow the CEO to have a bigger box or a louder voice than anybody else. So all of a sudden, family issues and every individual in the company are at somewhat of an equal level as your organization level in the hierarchy. Speaker 0 00:11:31 The 10th thing that I think is positive from our standpoint is hr. We have had a magnificent role to play in the pandemic, and I know most of you who are HR people have probably worked more hours this year than you have in your life. And most of you probably haven't had a vacation yet either, but you've been stepping up and doing incredible things and inventing them with very little experience. We didn't understand public health issues, infection, social distancing in many of the topics we're now dealing with at work. And we are strapping in working with facilities, working with legal, working with finance, working with it, and getting this stuff done. And I think we're gonna come out of this with a very strong recognition that the role of human resources in business is essential to business success. So those are 10 things to think about as you think about the pandemic, our new closer feeling to each other, our healthy discussion about income inequality, race and diversity, a new way of thinking about the economy and what health really means. Speaker 0 00:12:42 A change in spending patterns and increase of wages, a focus on learning and development and careers and transformation, a re-engineering and a healthy redevelopment and refocus of the HR tech space. A strong focus on citizenship, a complete change in the need and recognition and focus on psychology and understanding of the need to consider family issues at work, and of course the heroic role of hr. I hope you can think about those 10 things as we continue through the summer here and deal with our whole next wave in the pandemic. And join us on June 29th when we unleash the first set of findings for the big reset. You're gonna be hearing from seven companies describe the details of what they've been doing for the last three months, and I think you'll find it to be fascinating. Thank you.

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