The Future of Work Today

The whole world evidently recognizes the drastic impact that Covid19 has brought about – causing havoc on the socio-economic systems that we have put in place, practically as a civilization. Who would have thought that the catalyst responsible for uniting the world in accelerating our demand for sustainable solutions would be an invisible, indiscriminate virus? In order to rebuild our way of life amidst the rapidly changing landscape, we are left with no alternative but to rely on our most potent and creative resource to devise innovative solutions – us!

I turned to Joann Hizon, an expert on human capital development and a staunch advocate for the sustainable future of work, to help us have a handle on the drastic impact of Covid19. Serving as Vice President of Human Resources for the largest conglomerate in the country, SM Investments Corporation, Joann shares her thought-provoking insights on how the future of work will look like as we re-enter a Covid19 world.

How Organizations Navigate through Uncertainties as we Define the New Normal

More than ever, socio-economic concerns in sustainability has taken imminence over the climate change agenda. Joann gives us the top of mind concerns facing the new landscape that will set the tone in redefining our new normal.

“Aside from the usual and obvious changes in maintaining social distancing, one thing we, in HR and Management will look at with more scrutiny, is deciding if this particular position is really critical to the business. And along with that is choosing the right and healthiest person for the job.”

Joann Hizon, on the need for businesses to do a deep dive on its Human Capital needs in order to navigate through the realities and uncertainties of the ‘new normal’

Workplace Changes Driving Evolution in Management Styles

“Work from home will become the new normal. This means that conservative-style managers need to change their mindset from the old way of thinking that if I can’t see you, then most likely, you’re not working. Going to the physical office will become the exception rather than the rule. And going further into the future, large cavernous offices where all employees go to work daily will be a thing of the past and may be replaced with smaller ones spread out across the different areas where the companies operate.”

Joann Hizon, on how the new work environment will shape management styles

These changes will drastically affect how companies attract talents and identify the kinds of talents they require. Those with bureaucratic work styles or those possessing ultra-specialized skills may need to diversify in order to thrive in the new normal, with the rising demand for entrepreneurial and project management skills, which better match post-Covid realities.

“The perfect talent will be someone who can be cross-trained. After years of hiring specialists, I see the re-emergence of the generalists. We’ll need to get people who are multi-skilled, are trainable, have the ability to switch roles, wear several hats, and more importantly, can work autonomously. We’ll be needing more one-man/one-woman teams – someone who can carry out a project from conceptualization to implementation to assessment, driving results through a virtual team. Those are the hard skills.

For the soft skills, this person would need great leadership skills, be a coach and mentor to the team, possess excellent feedback skills, and have a high level of integrity. Whether you’re in a leadership role or a support role, all of the above will apply to you.”

Joann Hizon, on the emerging ‘on-demand’ skills with the changes in the workplace

Redefining Occupational Health and Well-Being

“Leaders who show compassion during this time will certainly reap the rewards later on, however this crisis turns out.”

Joann Hizon, on the power of empathy in leadership

As Covid19 continues to shake our sense of normality, the awareness on mental health and the importance of socio-physical well-being pose challenges for human resource practitioners with work from home environments having variable conditions that are out of the company’s control.

“What did we do? For one, we doubled our communication efforts. My team already had frequent How-are-you?’ sessions with employees. Basically, these started out as stay interviews, or check-ins with critical employees or those in high-attrition jobs. ‘How-are-you?s’ were later used on employees we knew were having problems, whether professional or personal such that it was affecting their performance, or they were employed under difficult bosses, or they worked under very challenging conditions. The lockdown made us increase our coverage now to just every employee. It’s amazing how just 3 simple words can have such a healing effect.”

Joann Hizon, on the power of genuine human connection

Corporate Values as the Anchor for Organizational Resilience

“So, what is resilience now? Resilience in today’s world is not letting technology control or rule you. It is not letting technology drive your decisions but letting your values do that!”

Joann Hizon, on what drives real resilience

This is exactly what the SM group demonstrated as it responded to the Covid19 crisis – donating over Php270M worth of medical supplies and equipment, Kalinga packs for families in need and assuring its thousands of employees of their full salaries. Executives followed suit by donating resources to help support staff of 3rd party suppliers as they faced the Covid19 crisis.

“A resilient workforce is one that can re-tool and adapt itself to the new normal and this is where we used technology as a tool. To be resilient, a workforce will have to get used to self-reliance and self-development in order to prepare for and thrive in an ever-changing world and build up strength for when the next crisis will hit us.”

Joann Hizon, on future-proofing the workforce

Never Waste a Crisis by Harnessing Opportunities through Innovation

Joann is one that does not back down from any challenge but sees it as an opportunity to rise or even optimize it as an accelerator for the principles and programs she advocates for. Is there a silver-lining in all this? With full conviction, she responds, PLENTY!

For one, work-from-home arrangements will become the norm. That’s good news for people who can work but otherwise have been marginalized – PWDs, seniors who can still work but are forced to retire, single parents, part-timers – they will all benefit from the WFH set-up.

Joann Hizon, on how work-from-home promotes inclusiveness

Another is that this crisis has forced us out of our bureaucratic ways and/or our inflexibility to explore other avenues. Take the rush to find a cure for the coronavirus. I used to work for a pharmaceutical company and I know that it takes 10 years of clinical trials before a drug can be brought to market. Now they’re talking about coming out with a vaccine in 18 months!

Technology has allowed us to reinvent the way we do things – virtual meetings, e-signatures as the norm versus the exception, cashless payments, online learning, and many more.

Another pleasant side effect of this lockdown is that it’s forced us to be more “human,” more grounded. It brought out the helping spirit in all of us – helping those who really needed it, showing appreciation for our front liners – it just made us kinder and more grateful.

Joann Hizon, on how times of crisis can bring out the best in us (In-photo with SM-company nurse)

It is Always Darkest Before Dawn

An equitable, just and more humane work place are some of the elements that constitute the kind of workplace we aspire for. With a ferocious enemy taking lives in just days across the globe, we have come to realize that indeed we are our greatest resourceIt is in our hands that we can bring about the most dangerous threat to our very own existence or the greatest feat towards our sustainable future.

This crisis made us realize what was really important and what was essential to living a simpler life. It made us explore talents we didn’t think we had, made us more productive around the house. And the best silver lining of all? It made us spend more time with the people we didn’t have enough time for. This crisis made us realize, Ah! It can be done!

Joann Hizon, on rising above adversities and disruptions

#sustainableph #sustainablefutureofwork #covid19ph #resilience #future-proofingworkforce #resilientworkforce

Photo credits: Joann Hizon | Sustainable PH 2020

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