Leading in the new era of work

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During the pandemic, organizations across the globe have been forced to experiment with a whole range of remote and flexible working arrangements. Just as workforces have had to rapidly adjust, so too have leaders. 

Now employers are reflecting on how the experience of the past 12 months might shape the next few years. As one of our latest e-guides reveals, a lot can be learned from this short space of time to help leaders develop and succeed in the future. 

Leaders need to bring out the best in their flexible teams

Robert Walters surveyed more than 5,000 professionals worldwide, from a range of industries, and the results were revealing.  

Four key leadership traits emerged in order to successfully lead businesses, teams, employees and business partners into a new, uncertain future: 

1. Make swift, effective decisions 

Business leaders will need to leverage data in their decision-making process when managing remote workforces. They should be transparent when communicating decisions as well as trusting and delegating decision making to empower and develop their teams. 

2. Engage and build trust 

For effective virtual collaborations, business leaders need to cultivate strong relationships with their teams and stakeholders whether that be by listening, being open to feedback, storytelling or creatively engaging. 

3. Balancing wellbeing and productivity 

Employee wellbeing is paramount for leaders balancing flexible working environments with business objectives. Check in with your employees, treat everyone’s circumstances as unique and adjust expectations. 

4. Embrace change and encourage innovation 

To remain competitive in the long-term, business leaders will need to embrace and invest in technology that facilitates employee collaboration. This will streamline remote working and ensures that company culture is sustained. 

Embedding empathy-first leadership strategy 

Our survey also found that the majority of employees (53%) said their leaders required a better understanding of mental health and wellbeing.  

To be able to safeguard the mental wellbeing of their people, leaders must proactively look after their own personal mental health. The pandemic has really tested leaders’ capacity to do this. Many have worked long hours for a sustained period of months, juggling work with family life, providing emotional support for colleagues, and managing redundancies and restructures.  

In times like these, managers can fall into the trap of not prioritizing things like sleep, exercise and good nutrition. There can also be a tendency for leaders to ‘grin and bear it’. However, the myth of the flawless leader can actually do more harm than good. Instead, there is enormous value in leaders being proactive about their mental wellness and also speaking openly about the issue.  

By demonstrating a visible long-term commitment to mental health, leaders set the tone for their people. Employers should develop (and widely communicate) strategies for a mentally healthy workforce, including providing resources for employees such as training, webinars and blogs on how to manage mental health. Good health and safety management should also be integrated into all business decisions, policies and procedures. This includes actively identifying risks to mental health and working with employees to address these. 

A mentally healthy workplace can be a valuable part of an organization’s employer value proposition. A survey conducted by Ginger, a mental-health platform for employees, found that 85% of workers believe that behavioral health benefits are important when evaluating a new job. It also found that a mentally healthy workplace made employees less likely to seek other employment. 

To find out more about leading in the new world of work, read the Robert Walters eguide The Future of Work: Futureproofing Careers and Workforces.

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