chapter 5

conclusions of the next normal

The new normal we all grew accustomed to over the course of the past year was characterized by fear, uncertainty and economic disruption. Our next normal, however, will be driven by mobility, a renewed and ongoing commitment to employee wellness and increased competition for in-demand talent. In this next normal, the workforce will almost certainly be a hybrid one, and that will introduce both opportunities and challenges for employers and employees alike.

Companies that have the foresight to make the most of this — those with the right resources, partnerships and investments in technology — will be positioned to innovate, grow and hire and retain talent. Those that don't will find it almost impossible to crawl out of the economic crater left by COVID-19.

Talent, meanwhile, may have more choice than ever before. Those with the most in-demand skills, particularly in fields like technology and engineering, will not only be able to write their own tickets, they'll also be virtually unbound to any specific geography. Whether employers take this mobility and the potential lower costs of living that come with it into account when crafting their compensation plans is still unclear. However, those that attempt to recoup costs by adjusting salaries accordingly may just find that the money they save isn't worth turning off top talent.

Lastly, as Gen Z continues to enter the workforce en masse, employers will have to redouble their efforts to keep them not only safe, but interested and engaged. Employers that offer (when possible) greater control over when and where they work, better work-life balance and competitive pay will find it easier to attract the workforce's youngest generation. Meanwhile, those that offer benefits designed to protect their physical and mental well-being will find it easier to keep them.

All told, even though businesses in virtually every industry were forced to change and adapt in the wake of COVID-19, they can't afford to stop now. Our new normal has been a radical departure, but our next normal will be continued evolution. The coming changes may not be as drastic, and the stakes may not be as high, but organizations' ability to rise to the challenges ahead will still be critical to their continued success.