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The organisation: 2.0

Written by: Pete John is a senior consultant at Penna
Published on: 21 May 2020

I recently saw the phrase ‘Elephant in the Zoom’ for the first time, which made me smile, describing ‘the obvious issue on the videoconferencing call that no one is able to mention’ (such as terrible new facial hair or a worryingly messy house in the background). I also saw an interesting article which posed the question ‘What particular aspect has had the fastest and most profound recent impact on developing and growing your strategic digital and intensive support team agenda?’ Is it (a) Your chief technology officer, (b) Your chief information officer or (c) COVID-19?

I’ll leave you to decide, but I know from my recent discussions our clients and networks are now contemplating and planning their approach to the commonly phrased ‘new normal’. We have also helped recruit 29 new senior roles for them during the current crisis. Many of these new hires have entered organisations which compare drastically against themselves in January; top tier talent has reshaped and restructured organisations. 

Here are some of the changes I’ve observed in my conversations:

Advances in agility
Whatever the future may hold, it is clear it is no longer sufficient to equip your organisation to survive a single restructure or reorganisation – you must be equipped to make repeated changes and ensure you learn from each experience. I’m increasingly being asked to introduce our Employee Value Proposition team who provide expert and specialist support on the reason someone should join, stay and flourish in your organisation, in particular linked to the multifaceted impact of the pandemic. Moreover, there is also a peak in demand for strategic human resource support linked to the sheer weight and volume of transactions, support and advice our hard working client HR teams are experiencing.

Retain, retain, retain
The best organisations are considering how they can keep their workforce long term. For employees, an organisation’s response to crisis can either imbue confidence…or have the complete opposite effect.

Clearly, once we’re out of the mire it’s essential you retain your best and agile workers to maintain your corporate memory (for a future crisis?) as well maintain a ‘new’ high level of customer service and loyal customer and stakeholder confidence. Typically, your workforce will be internalising the worry of what you will do for/with them. How will services be delivered in the future and how workplace and technology will change, as well as what their future career prospects will look like and be shaped. 

Find out what’s working, and leave it be after lockdown
Counterintuitively, we’ve also found that our own Penna colleague relationships have flourished under the new ‘work from home’  lockdown arrangements.

Our daily Microsoft Teams huddles are source of a strong cross fertilisation of ideas, workplace networking and good will. Nothing has proved more important in creating new bonds between us than the common enemy of the coronavirus struggle. Going through this together has developed new levels of connectivity  and problem solving as we all coalesce during these stretching times. 

As your own culture reshapes past the current crisis it’s important to recognise that the workplace, wherever that may be, is both a centre of production as well as a socially rewarding market place. Post crisis, our colleagues and work family (we are also a Penna Family) will occupy an even more important place in our work experience.

What has also happened is we’ve been forced to respond in an agile and flexible fashion to meet our immediate business and organisational needs. Technology has enabled us to showcase how effective we can be (once we’ve accepted the change) outside of our comfort zones. Additionally, there is a refreshed level of appreciation for positive work life balance and the ways family and friends are critical to life and happiness.

Reassess your structure, and talent needs
Our candidate pools and clients are also thinking through what renewed career opportunities might surface as part of the pandemic. You may need to reassess critical roles, build new definitions of responsibilities and explore new boundaries for key tasks. Key competencies will need to reflect flexibility, resilience, agile working aspects etc if they do not already. 

There will be a demand for candidates to be able to learn and assimilate quickly, engage new practice, engage with teams and colleagues remotely and manage at a distance. 

A brand new approach might be required through collaborative design, fresh policies and practices, and new approaches to teamwork that support different ways of working. 

Want to find out more? 
Our experienced consultants and Employee Value Proposition team can help in recruiting to and supporting culture as a driving context for performance and employee engagement. 

If you think we might be able to help as you’re planning your exit plans and newly defined operating or service models don’t hesitate to contact us.

Pete John is senior consultant at Penna

Pete John