Lessons from Bersin Q&A: Get comfortable with uncertainty

Workforce culture will adapt, but the only real certainty is change, expert advises during live event.
By: | July 10, 2020 • 2 min read
(Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

As businesses figure out the best way to function through the pandemic, it is clear that many aspects of work will change even after the threat of COVID-19 recedes and the economy begins to recover.

Josh Bersin

Tips, success stories and best practices for managing that process and moving forward were among the subjects of a live HRE conversation this week led by Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and dean of the Josh Bersin Academy. ServiceNow sponsored the event, which can be replayed here.

Early in the pandemic, Bersin created the Big Reset Initiative, a program that enlisted about 160 large corporations to help address new strategies and explore what those businesses were doing in the pandemic. In this week’s live Q&A, Bersin sat down with Nuno Gonçalves, Nazneen Razi, Nancy Vitale and Peter Sackleh, some of his senior faculty at the academy who helped plan the initiative. They spent 45 minutes discussing topics ranging from transforming the workplace to creating new leadership capabilities to looking at what the short-term future might hold.

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It has become increasingly clear that company culture is changing, especially with the switch to remote work, the panel agreed, increasing the importance of keeping employees happy and engaged in work.

“If you look at happiness research from the World Happiness Institute, they look at the four factors of happiness being financial health, physical health, relationships and a sense of trust,” Bersin said. “Relationships are far more correlated to happiness than money, physical health or anything else, so this idea of building relationships at work is really fascinating.”

Watch the recorded Q&A.

Managing uncertainty, however, remains a primary task through it all, he said.

“If I look six months ahead, we’re going to have a different war for talent,” added Gonçalves, vice president for Human Resources, Head of Talent Acquisition, Development & Learning at UCB. “We will look and know how friends and colleagues are treated in other companies … and the companies that treat [employees] well and are the most human companies, will be attracting the talent.”

Dovetailing on the importance of company culture, Vitale added that how companies care for employees will be paramount.

“We saw Twitter come out this week providing summer camp and opportunities to care for Twitter employees full time,” said Vitale, who is co-founder and managing partner at Partners for Wellbeing and former CHRO at Genentech. But we also saw a woman get fired because her child was on in the background of a video call, she added.

Also see: Twitter launches virtual camp for employees and their children

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“To Nuno’s point, how do we support the variety and diversity of needs,” she said, “particularly when schools are in jeopardy of opening in the fall.”

With a new war for talent on the horizon, employers will need to be creative in how they attract and retain talent in a virtual world.

“I think the biggest lesson we are all going to learn in the next six months is this problem of uncertainty is not going away,” Bersin said. “I think we are going to have to get comfortable with working at a company that is changing rapidly all the time.”

Read more from Josh Bersin here.