It is no secret that the pandemic impacted all aspects of our lives, particularly in the workplace. It placed a spotlight on transformations that were already set in motion and cultivated a changing, more holistic workplace that more fully merged people’s personal and professional lives.
During the pandemic, with so much of the workforce being remote the idea of bringing one’s “whole self” to work was almost unavoidable. It became more acceptable for people to be vulnerable and share aspects of their personal lives at work. Employees began assessing the workplace through a new and broader lens and employers realized they needed to be more intentional in their efforts to cultivate their work culture. As a result, these past two years saw record-breaking job movement, as many dissatisfied professionals had the luxury of quickly leaving a job that may have fallen short of their expectations. New professionals no longer had to navigate the challenges of performing work that may not have been as exciting as they hoped, putting up with less-than-ideal bosses or coworkers, or even inconvenient schedules. Instead, they could leave within months, or sometimes even weeks, for what they perceived as greener pastures.
Now, amid a tighter labor market (with job openings falling below 10 million for the first time in two years), many may not have the option to simply opt out of jobs that didn’t quickly meet their expectations. Instead, they may now find that they will need to invest more in their companies and double down on long-term career commitments. To navigate this new reality, employees will need to refocus on different professional muscles to find a happy medium, including:
While it is in the best interest of an employee to nurture their professional resilience skills, employers must also invest in their employees by providing opportunities for individuals to build their relationships. Companies need to be creative in how they cultivate those connections, both in-person and online. Virtual coffee breaks and group activities became an alternative for water cooler conversations during the pandemic, and more organizations are intentionally building in social interactions to every aspect of their culture from onboarding and training to even how office spaces are utilized. Employers who have a culture of transparency and open communication will enable employees to know where the opportunities lie and to work on developing the necessary relationships and professional muscles to grow within an organization.
One point of note that is critical to address—if employees are going to try to nurture their professional resilience, this is not necessarily a generational discussion. A trait that often defines Gen-Z among earlier generations is their stance on work-life balance. While they have done a great deal in spurring important conversations on the holistic approach people are now taking when it comes to their work and personal lives, they are by no means the first or only champion. Every generation nudges boundaries and enters the workforce with different expectations and career goals, and each generation has slowly contributed to the working environment we live in now. The pandemic has exacerbated and made room for a more holistic self at work – but don’t forget this current approach has been well in the making over the past decades. With conscious and purposeful effort from all stakeholders in a workplace, an environment with resilient workers and understanding employers can exist.