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Anchored in the Past or Navigating to the Future: Reintroducing Humanity in the post-COVID Workplace

The proclamation that Covid-19 is over is about more than just lifting mask mandates and returning to in-person offices. It also signals an apparent halt to manager check-ins on employees, self-care encouragement, and a dedication to diversity as we've come to know it.

Here's a lesser-known reality - employees are exiting the workforce because leaders seem to be burying their heads in the sand, leaving workers to manage on their own. The days of proactive care for colleagues during Covid-19 or moments of racial reckoning, like in the aftermath of George Floyd's death, appear to be behind us. The concept of "self-care" is now often masked by deceptive policies like unlimited paid time off, while work pressures mount and organizational fears and competition escalate to a crisis point.

Speaking from my experience as an executive coach and leadership expert, it's clear that organizational atmospheres are starting to feel like a stormy sea, with employees struggling to stay afloat.

By referencing the Navigating Courage Framework, let's revisit what we did right at the start of the pandemic:

  • Be Human: We acknowledged the inherent worth of each individual and lead with empathy, recognizing and valuing the unique perspectives, strengths, and vulnerabilities of everyone in the organization.

  • Be in Community: We fostered a sense of belonging and shared purpose within teams and organizations, moving from a culture of competition to one of collaboration.

  • Be Curious: We embraced diversity, became more open to feedback, and cultivated environments where questioning and innovation were encouraged.

  • Be Courageous: We stood up against injustice and inequity, challenging the status quo and turning outrage into action.

But then, COVID was declared over! This assertive proclamation seemingly anchored us back to the ship of capitalism, racism, and ableism that, for centuries, has exploited, and carelessly discarded people to prioritize profits and privilege a few.

To some, the above statement seems a bit harsh. However, ask yourself: when was the last time you or someone in your workplace did the following?

  • Recognized each individual's inherent value and led with empathy.

  • Established a sense of belonging and shared purpose in your team or organization.

  • Promoted an environment that encouraged questioning and innovation.

  • Challenged the status quo and turned outrage into action.

Even if you believe that COVID is over, can we agree that we need to reintroduce a humanistic perspective to the workplace?

For if we fail to do so, we'll keep seeing employees departing, tirelessly navigating through life, but never feeling as though they've reached the shore. It's time to Lead with Humanity. Otherwise, the whole ship risks going under. #navigatingcourage

Dr. Robin Martin

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