Lucas van Wees, president (2018-2020) of the European Association for People Management (EAPM), says that the impact of Covid-19 on employee well-being is greater than managers generally realize. According to him, it is likely that workplaces are so far only seeing the “tip of the iceberg” and therefore it is important for managers to take the reins as soon as possible.

According to Wees, the extent to which isolation, homework and the ban on meetings have affected people’s well-being is not yet over. Managers thus need to pay special attention to their key people, because the ban on meetings gives people a lot of space to re-evaluate their position, their priorities and their careers.

This and more was stated in Wees’ talk he gave at a meeting with Human Resources, an association of human resources people in Iceland. Sigrún Kjartansdóttir, Managing Director of Mannauður, reviewed the main results of the meeting with Atvinnulíf á Vísi, as Mannauður is a member of EAPM. “The lecture that Lucas gave was entitled EAPM’s Perspective on the Impact of Covid-19 on Human Resources and Workplaces in Europe,” says Sigrún.

Many things change in the wake of Covid

According to Sigrún, the main points in Wees’ lecture were the following:

  • Teleworking will increase
  • More flexible working hours
  • The work environment will change
  • Jobs will change. They will be more broken down into projects
  • Jobs will be laid off and new and changed ones will emerge that require new skills and abilities
  • Business executives and human resources departments need to be very vigilant and initiate work on employee well-being in the wake of COVID. “This is a hidden problem but it will hit us sooner rather than later,” says Wees
  • Employees will re-evaluate their position, both in terms of their work and family life. This is a reassessment following the isolation of Covid, which gave people the opportunity to think a lot.
  • Management needs to change and managers need to work better with staff strengths rather than how many hours are worked

But what did you think was high on the agenda of the meeting guests compared to the discussions after the lecture?

Meeting guests asked a lot about the issues concerning the mental well-being of the staff and Lucas spoke specifically about it. Because in his speech it was very clear that so far we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg. “Many people are feeling unwell,” he said.

says Sigrún and adds: “But in this respect, Lucas also placed great emphasis on the companies’ managers being aware of the danger and responding quickly as well as making their employees aware that Covid is influencing people’s well-being.”

In this context, Sigrún mentions how the ban on assembly and isolation has given people the opportunity to re-evaluate many things in their lives. It can be related to work, family life or even the relationship with the spouse.

“The meeting guests also discussed the companies ‘challenge of being able to retain their best staff during these times of transformation, while at the same time hiring new staff with the skills and knowledge that the future is calling for,” says Sigrún and points out that the latter includes companies’ competitiveness. .

Sigrún says that Wees touched on employment issues in his presentation. He said it was gratifying to see that although many companies had held their own immediately after Covid, it seems that recruitment is starting to pick up in most places, and there the number of recruitments did not seem to be necessarily lower compared to previous years. “Nowadays, however, the interviews are often taken digitally and Wees also pointed out that people even started more and more at the new workplace in teleworking”, says Sigrún.

Sigrún also said that it had attracted attention that Wees had introduced himself as one of the Baby Boomers generation, but now it was possible to talk about a new generation: Baby Zoomers! Wees would have been pointing out that in the wake of Covid, everyone would have been forced to learn more about the benefits of the Internet.

Sigrún Kjartansdóttir went over the main points from a lecture given by Lucas van Wees, President (2018-2020) of EAPM, which he held at a meeting with human resources people recently.

More about the effects of Covid

But to better explain the changes that Wees announced, here are the main points he made in his talk:

1. Teleworking

Teleworking has had a major impact, as staff communication and customer communication have largely shifted to the Internet. It remains to be seen how companies will take advantage of this permanently and how the changed arrangements will then be structured in agreements with employees.

It was clear to everyone, however, that with teleworking, companies could save a considerable amount of operating costs on housing and employees could save time on trips to and from work.

2. Change of job

Productivity has increased and procedures have changed and it is anticipated that technology will evolve so that more jobs will be laid off. However, many jobs are changing and new jobs are being created, which means that it is important that employees now prepare to acquire new skills, abilities and knowledge in view of the changing needs of the future.

According to Wees, it is important for both management and staff to be aware of this.

3. Changed management

According to Wees, a new way of thinking is emerging in management, but he says that management needs to change more in the sense that managers work well with the strengths of each and every employee.

Strength can not be assessed on the basis of hours worked, but on people’s contribution and ways to success.

4. Recruitment

According to Wees, employment will probably develop in such a way that working hours will become more and more flexible and teleworking will even be part of the contract. The working hours will thus take more account of the employee’s qualities, skills and abilities in the job in question, regardless of education and previous experience.

Wees says that the biggest changes following Covid will actually be in digital development, a more environmentally friendly world and great innovation.

The crisis has always resulted in quite a bit of innovation and there is no change in that now. The only difference is much faster and new and ever-changing technology. “

says Sigrún.

There are opportunities for employees in this, because with increased technology and innovation, companies’ need for staff who are highly skilled in human skills increases, e.g. communication, care and education.

“Lucas is optimistic and expects us to get out of this situation in six to eight months. He believes that the Nordic countries will probably be the first countries in Europe to do so.

He believes that the government has acted responsibly and firmly in the problems, and after the first wave also with knowledge, which means that the consequences of the second wave will be smaller than the first.

He predicts lower interest rates and improved economic conditions. People spend less and spend differently. It collects and submits. It will result in a better economic situation. Everyone benefits from it, “says Sigrún, among other things, about other issues that were stated in Wees’ case.

But the final question to you Sigrún, how do you assess the situation here in relation to what Wees talked about?

“Everything that Wees went over at the meeting also applies to us here in Iceland. We need to take good care of our staff, especially the spiritual side, but at the same time encourage them to pay close attention to lifelong learning and to adopt the latest technology and the skills and knowledge that the future calls for.

We here in Iceland need to make the best use of all our human resources, regardless of gender, origin or age. We as a small nation cannot afford anything else. “Even though you are in your sixties, you are still eligible for the job market if you are at the forefront of acquiring the new skills that the future holds.”

says Sigrún and adds:

“We will need people with the right skills and knowledge, and only by encouraging everyone to meet these lifelong learning requirements will we be eligible for an ever-changing labor market. When the traditional older jobs gradually close down, we are ready to take on new jobs and new times. “