In a post-pandemic world, we need a new social contract for work

Almost three years since the onset of COVID-19, the disruptions associated with the pandemic have made us rethink how we live and caused significant changes in the workplace. The companies emerging from the pandemic have entered a new world, where the metrics to measure the effectiveness, competitiveness, and quality of an organization have changed.

Over the past few years, employee wages have consistently outpaced the inflated cost of living–a disparity only exacerbated by pandemic-related supply chain issues and labor shortages.

Meanwhile, workplaces are struggling with the silent counterpart of COVID-19 — a widespread mental health crisis exacerbated by the pandemic’s diversity, virus anxiety, and social unrest.

Across industries, the pandemic has also widened the digital divide and accelerated automation, requiring workers and employers to develop new skills and capabilities.

This week, leaders from across government, business, and civil society gathered at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to address global issues and find ways for us to work together in a divided world.

The challenges facing workers today must be a part of these conversations, as businesses embrace the lessons learned from the pandemic and work to transform their organizations to become more durable and compatible with the needs of modern workers.

Equal pay and the war for talent

In our post-pandemic world, it is more important than ever for companies to create new social and psychological contracts with their employees.

In order to satisfy the needs of their shareholders, their employees, and other stakeholders, many companies must develop new ways to meet the demands for profitability while ensuring that they offer competitive advantages. rewards and benefits that attract and retain great talent.

Forward-thinking companies will ensure they support employees’ physical and mental health, protect their financial well-being, and prepare them for the future of work.

And the owners will rethink their way of working themselves, always asking the questions: How can we make work more flexible for our people? What obstacles can we remove to make work more efficient? How can we overcome the barriers to becoming a more agile organization?

In many cases, this means abandoning or changing traditional work structures in favor of more fluid and flexible work models.

Mental health crisis

COVID-19 has also exposed the mental and physical toll work can take on employees, especially as businesses continue to navigate hybrid work and employees deal with the aftershocks of the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, nearly 21% of American adults have experienced mental health challenges. Since then, pandemic-related disruptions have contributed significantly to the ongoing challenges of employee mental health, with several US companies reporting signs of burnout.

With these conflicting crises, companies must find ways to address mental health concerns to avoid employee burnout and continue to attract and retain talent, especially. as the workers say mental health support as an important factor in their future work and career decisions.

Most organizations have established support systems to address employees’ mental health concerns. According to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends report.

Adequate mental health benefits must take a holistic approach that considers the effects of physical health on mental health. Measures such as predictable working hours, fair pay, and flexible working arrangements, can all be used to support workers’ mental health.

Revolution again

The disruption related to the pandemic also accelerates the existing trends of automation and digitization, which require workers and employers to align the demands for new skills. According to The 2020 Future of Jobs at the World Economic Forumrequired job skills are likely to change dramatically over the next few years, with the majority of the workforce estimated to need reskilling by 2025.

As technology advances, providing workers with the resources to acquire new skills will become increasingly necessary for organizations seeking to build agile, adaptive, and resilient teams with the latest or that capability.

Opportunities for re-upskilling, or “job crafting,” where employees can create their own job descriptions that match their skills, are also among the top demands for future employees. Companies seeking to remain competitive in the labor market and attract top talent must adapt to these new metrics—and adapt to the needs of the future workforce.

Developing a culture that embraces continuous learning and providing employees with professional development tools and resources can be key to staying competitive by avoiding outplacement, hiring, and attrition costs. of knowledge.

The nature of work has changed since before the pandemic. Just as COVID-19 has permanently affected our personal lives, it has also accelerated existing trends, and in many cases, amplified their impact on today’s workplace.

To help create a fair and inclusive future of work, Mercer and a coalition of like-minded companies have joined the World Economic Forum’s Good Work Alliance, a global cross-industry initiative that leverages private and public sector, academia, and civil society. expertise and input.

Although we have not yet seen the end of the influence of COVID-19 on our world, it has become clear that we cannot continue without addressing the issues that have arisen from the last two years and adjusting our perspective. how to improve quality workplaces.

Martine Ferland is the president and CEO of Mercer, the largest consulting firm on issues related to the workforce, retirement, and employee health.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary pieces are solely the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of luck.

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