Some Personal Post Pandemic Thoughts
Tonight, Managing Member Ron Slee shares with us some of his personal thoughts about the post-pandemic world.
For some time now I have been wondering about what happens to the workforce once we come out of the pandemic fears and returned to normal. Of course, I don’t truly believe we will return to the old normal. I think there is a new normal. I am a baby boomer born in the 1940’s so I have seen a few economic disruptions. I am also one who has been shouting out about the fact that we spend trillions of dollars on Technology but near nothing on Sociology. In the same vein, I have long been concerned about how we as a society in the United States seem obsessed with work and succeeding (even though we cannot properly state what success means).
There was a wonderful Cadillac ELR Coupe commercial in 2014 with the actor Neal McDonough. Watch it on YouTube. The reason I want you to watch this ad is that it reflects how we “used to think” about work and our lives. We worked. Long hours and sometimes six days, we traveled a lot, we didn’t see our families enough. We were a driven society with success being measured in Status and Money. I have never really been driven that way. When I was working as an employee I was always asking “why do we do things that way or this way?” Then when we started on our business, I was just trying to make enough money to live. Starting your own business when you are 33 years old is not the easiest of tasks. I never really was working for success, rather it was survival. I don’t think I was alone.
Today, we have a much smarter and less tolerant workforce. They won’t put up with as much as my generation did by a long stretch. And I think they are right. I moved my family from Montreal to Vancouver, from Vancouver to Edmonton, from Edmonton to Denver, from Denver to Palm Springs and more recently we moved to Honolulu to get ready to retire, I think. During my years in the consulting world, I averaged over 150,000 air miles a year. If you think that is fun, think again. 8,000,000 miles later the pandemic hit and I returned to living with my family 24/7. It was wonderful. The up-and-coming generations will not put up with that kind of life. They shouldn’t. There is a lot more to life than the treadmill many of us put ourselves on to make a living.
From some recent reports, I have read between 25% and 50% of the workforce does not want to go back to the office. They want to continue to work remotely. Further, they have seen that working remotely costs them a lot less money, some $5,000/year in lower expenses. Some companies are adjusting the compensation so that employees work remotely, they pay less. On top of that, many in “my generation” want to see the employee in the office so that they know they are working. Yes, that is true. Some teachers are sitting in classrooms teaching virtually but they have to do this at the school for whatever reason. It doesn’t make sense to me. There is a major shift going on. Strip malls have lost a lot of tenants. Empty stores are everywhere in America. I am not sure they will ever come back to the “old normal.”
I have long said “life is simple, it is people that mess it up.” I don’t believe that any employee will leave their current employer if they feel that they are valued and a valuable team member contributing to the success of the company and driven to serve people: customers, vendors and coworkers. I honestly do believe that the leadership of anything is the major cause in the employee satisfaction world. Bullies are still out there but their time is quickly coming to an end. Charismatic, caring people that are committed to the success of their employees will, hopefully, become the “new normal.” It is time to step away from micromanaging our teams.
The issue of compensation will come up. I don’t believe that people will leave a job because of their pay, IF, the pay is commensurate with the skills and the market. Don’t try to take advantage of your employees by not paying them properly. One small example. I left a job and gave my employer 60 days’ notice. I was not leaving for money; in fact, I was going to make exactly the same amount of money. However, during those sixty days I was offered to have my salary doubled, to be given a company vehicle and to have a membership in a golf club. As my wife said, “they are trying to buy you.” I didn’t stay. Many employees are in the same situation. They DO NOT get the proper level of pay. That needs to change. It needs to be fixed. There are many sources to get comparable job descriptions and salary and compensation studies. The US Department of Labor has all of those facts. You can typically find them in your local library.
This is a time of significant change, and the rate of change is accelerating. Don’t pay attention to your leadership alone, it is ALL of the employees who make your company successful. It really is quite simple. Treat everyone with respect and it will come back to you. I only ask that you think about it a bit more than you do at the moment.
The time is now.