The global health pandemic has changed almost every area of our lives. When asked about what is different, it is common to jump straight to mask wearing, social distancing and lockdowns. These elements have certainly changed the way we live, but what about the workplace? 

Employers had no warning or opportunity to stagger upskilling, so they needed to put faith in employees to rise to the challenges of working through a pandemic. It accelerated the need for workers to be agile, self-directed and proficient in modern technologies and many employees have answered the call and stepped up beyond expectations.  

In times of such uncertainty, financial pressure, and health concerns, it is normal to feel overwhelmed by unwelcome news – but there is some good news. Emerging from enormous challenges, employees have learnt some valuable skills. The following outlines some of the skills your team members have acquired or fine-tuned during the pandemic.

Empathy and comradery  

It is almost impossible to have been untouched by the implications of COVID-19. We have seen significant impacts including financial stress, serious health implications and loss of jobs and security. The pandemic is indiscriminately impacting our friends, family and work mates and this has brought a newfound level of empathy and comradery as we are all in the trenches together. This benefits businesses as employees seek to support each other and work together for a common goal. 

Customer centricity  

The value of a customer has never been higher. Customers may have been once taken for granted, but their true value is now fully understood. Employees now recognise the value of every dollar coming into the business and how important it is to evolve to meet the everchanging needs of customers. 

The art of effective communication  

It is easy to communicate with employees that sit one cubicle away, but when you put postcodes in between - things can become challenging. Overnight, employees were sent to work from home and they needed to learn very quickly how to effectively communicate remotely. There have been huge benefits to this including helping to ensure all remote workers feel included and valuable. Employees have learnt the art of active listening, built remote rapport and developed new relationships.   

Generating the Intrapreneur spirit  

COVID-19 has forced employers to revisit their offering and evolve to meet the changing needs of customers. In many cases, business models have been decimated and employees have worked in partnership with leaders to innovate a new offering to stay alive in business. This intrapreneur spirit in the workplace has had significant benefits to employers and it is integral to keep generating business growth and sustainability.  

Resilience  

This is undoubtedly a life skill; however recent times have demonstrated how critical it is for employees to develop resilience at work. Despite their best efforts, employers have struggled to maintain a stable work environment leaving employees with at times less than desirable outcomes. The increased adversity, stress and uncertainty has required workers to fine tune resilience to rise to the new challenges of work. 

Technical competence  

There once was a time when being technically savvy was an optional extra, but those days are well gone. In many cases, employees have taught themselves how to use innovative programs and adopted modern technology and tools to get the job done. Whilst for many this has been a big challenge; it has shown workers of all ages and backgrounds that technical literacy is possible and a key part of the new way to work. 

Accountability and time management  

In life pre pandemic, there was the chance that the odd work from home day was a little unproductive with more focus on the washing than deliverables – but this has changed. As employees have set up workstations from home, they have also set new work rhythms and systems to enable high productivity and success. The remote learning environment has not been everyone’s cup of tea, but it has provided new ways to blend home and work life with positive outcomes.  

Emotional Intelligence  

There was a time when it was thought that only leaders needed Emotional Intelligence (EQ) to be successful at work but that is certainly not the case. It has never been more important to develop soft skills and have empathy to another person’s situation. Workers have fine-tuned their EQ skills by taking the time to consider other people’s priorities and pressures and looking at ways to make someone else’s world easier. Remote working has increased the need and appetite to build EQ skills. 

Critical thinking  

Critical thinking has become a new found skill for many employees as they work rapidly to solve problems presented to the business on a daily basis.  What used to be the exception, has now become the norm and employees have developed critical thinking to tackle complex issues and evaluate information to make rapid decisions. Effective critical thinkers ask questions such as “why is this important?”, “what are the consequences?”, ‘what will be the impact of this decision?”  

The journey is not over 

Unfortunately, working and living with a global health pandemic has become the new ‘normal’, so it is important that employees can adopt a growth mindset of continuous learning to ensure that they can evolve with the emerging needs of the business and the economic climate. In a time when so much is out of our control, it is empowering for workers to jump into the driver's seat of their own learning journey and discover invaluable skills that will last a lifetime.  

Further information

For assistance with your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information.

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Georgina Pacor
Georgina is Senior Content Writer and HR Specialist – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 20 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.