The Big Reset: A New Way of Thinking about Work, Life, Business, & Leadership
The Big Reset is an initiative by Josh Bersin Academy to re-think how we work with each other and technology while keeping a focus on promoting empathy and understanding in a post-COVID world. Josh puts it best, “The Big Reset is a reset of our expectations. Reset in our priorities. And a Reset in how we spend our time.” This summer I had the opportunity to join the Academy as a Summer Fellow and helped to kick-off a series of break-out groups aimed at engaging with HR professionals from across the globe to better understand how businesses can thrive in a digital workplace environment while also actively planning to slowly and safely welcome employees back to the office.
The Big Reset: Making Sense Of The Coronavirus Crisis - JOSH BERSIN
How fast life can change. One day, it feels normal. The next day we're "sheltering in place" in our homes...distancing…
Joining the Josh Bersin Academy Big Reset initiative in May as a Summer Fellow, I imagined discussing with HR professionals how to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their business and how to ramp up bringing workers back to the workplace. What occurred over 5 weeks within these discussions was nothing short of a paradigm shift- for both myself and the 50+ HR professionals in the groups I helped to moderate. The conversations amongst the groups evolved and laid bare some of the gross inequalities that exist not only in society but also in the workplace and made it clear that there would not be a “return to normal.”
One Chief Human Resources Officer recounted her story of initially insisting that all Zoom calls be treated as if they were to occur in the office. This meant employees were required to wear professional attire and read over a “virtual work etiquette” book that was +30 pages in length. The following week, this same HR professional lamented that her approach to working virtually had hit some snags and that she, herself had to better understand her workers’ care demographics. In the third session, we learned that the etiquette book had been flung out the door, virtual backgrounds encouraged, and introductions of kids and pets to meeting participants actively sought out. Indeed, even this HR professional found herself subscribing to internal Slack channels called “My Kids Say the Darnedest Things.”
This example reminded me of a commercial we’ve all seen: the TIAA childcare commercial- you know, the one where the dad is Zoom-ing into a board room meeting and his children hilariously call out the somber mood of the call (…and the ‘scary-looking’ president). Imagine if instead of frowning upon the guest appearance of the worker’s children, the board better understood the care demographics of their employees: Would childcare coverage boost worker productivity? Are workers stressed out at home because they spend too much time trying to appear to be professional? With the Big Reset, it’s fair to say that virtual work arrangements will no longer be held to the same standard that a stuffy, c-suite board meeting is held to (and maybe even these meetings will fade into the past). In the end, it’s all about constantly monitoring the shifting care demographics of your workers (through pulse surveys, manager check-ins, and resource utilization monitoring- i.e. monitoring which perks or resources are being used the least or most and allocating budget to those most in-demand). Of course, these added benefits are nice, but there is still one thing that trumps even the best of employee benefits/perks: empathy.
Throughout the 5-week journey, it struck me that most firms are lacking empathy, specifically amongst upper-level management. No doubt, these are tough times to be a manager: the world is in a state of constant flux and numbers are only as good as the spreadsheet they reside in. But, imagine if workers and managers empathized with one another and created time to virtually walk in each other’s shoes- the empathy cup would run over and there would be new social contracts between management and employees popping up across the organization. Indeed, many of the HR professionals in the Big Reset groups noted a need to “go back to basics” and create time to “share stories outside of the workplace.” In one particularly poignant example, an HR professional noted that the Chief Executive Officer would be morphing into the Chief Empathy Officer- and allocating 30% of his schedule to simply hearing stories from employees across the organization. Empathy: the not-so-new ‘power skill’ that will radically transform your organization and how you interact with peers in a COVID and post-COVID world.