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Why you shouldn’t “write-off” 2020

Why you shouldn’t “write-off” 2020

For all of us, the beginning of 2020 saw an end to the ebb and flow of ‘normal’ life. By spring, we had witnessed waves of change across the globe, that we now know to be a seismic, fundamental transformation in the way we live our lives; personal and professional.  The working landscapes of industries and markets have also been substantially disrupted, in what has been described as us entering a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world.

In such a dramatic period of re-working and adaptation, catalysed by the pandemic, it might seem unlikely that individuals would have grown and learnt through such a challenging 2020. Yet many are saying that they have strengthened their resolve, widened their knowledge and skill sets, and have helped cultivate a greater sense of cohesion, compassion, and optimism within their professional communities.

Without a doubt, 2020 has taught us the importance of connectedness and community support. Whether it be as a country or in your own microcosm; you likely supported family and friends, from afar, by reaching out and checking in more regularly. A simple phrase like “how are you?” that would previously have been regarded as small talk, is now asked with a greater sense of genuine empathy and concern for one another’s wellbeing.

For some, 2020 presented the opportunity to re-connect with and grow their business networks. Many utilised social media and technology, choosing to share their experiences, nuggets of thought leadership and open new lines of communication with peers on a professional level, working to build a stronger community in adversity.

2020 has also been the year of new habits, with many of us forming positive new ones that should persist beyond the pandemic. Phillippa Lally, a heath psychology researcher at the University College London and her team found on average, it takes more than 2 months (or 66 days to be exact) for a new habit to internalise. Our own research at peoplewise has found that during habit formation, with repetition, the behaviours become progressively easier and this is an important motivator to persuade people to stick with their behaviour change efforts.

We have also noted with interest during this extended period of enforced homeworking, that for many, their new habits have shown less instability. This may be due to now having only one environment in which they carry out both their work and non-work lives.  Linking behaviours to work-day cues is known to create difficulties with maintenance on non-work days and vacations. This raises the interesting possibility that habit formation is easier in a single homeworking environment because there isn’t the temporary ‘disruption’ to behaviour reinforcing cues that we see when peoples’ ‘work-day’ and ‘non work day’ environments are different. This is important for all of us seeking to change behaviours.

2020 has also been the year of skills agility. Many have found themselves needing to upskill to adapt within a job or to get a job. Overnight, we became tech savvy on platforms previously unheard of and developed new ways to innovate and create to help drive business success. Many utilised the abundance of online courses for professional development, and steer their agility in new and fast evolving work practices.

The World Economic Forum released their predictions for the top 10 work skills needed for 2025, and have proposed how skills across jobs will change: https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020. Our own investment in understanding future skills needs has meant that we are well placed to support organisations build out their future talent pipelines. Our psychometrics assess almost all the WEF top 10 predicted skills and we provide accreditations to enable organisations to build out their internal capability to know and grow their talent in an increasingly complex world of work.

So, as we leave 2020 behind and look to 2021, it’s worth pausing to reflect on the positive learnings of this year: more connectivity and kindness within our communities, new habits formed, and opportunities seized, amid hardship, which when leveraged can only strengthen our collective future.

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