How Covid has affected workplace relations

Monday January 10 2022
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By Business Daily Africa

ying Flat’ in China, ‘The Great Resignation’ in the West, or whichever term you may use for the mass employee exodus is one of the great outcomes of the pandemic. Employers and some economists may not concur and it is understandable why but the wave of resignations sweeping across the corporate stratosphere is the dawn of a new era in employer-employee relationships.

While the uncertainty of the times that we find ourselves in, maybe, have cost many their jobs, those who survived the axe have seen a shift in their work relationships. Managers have fewer people to get the work done.

Discerning managers have gone from being demi-gods in many cases to more collaborative workmates — they need all the workers they still have. They too have to worry about their jobs, resulting in better treatment of their charges.

There’s also few to no one at work to lord over. The realisation that workplaces mean nothing without team members has never been more real than it is at this time — a very humbling experience for supervisors and managers. Sure, companies still exist, some if they still hold on to their office buildings while others have downsized.

Their carefully crafted logos, visions and mission statements and ethos remain on immaculate frames hanging on walls while those they are meant for are still able to embody all of it wearing jackets with rarely matching pyjama bottoms and attending high-profile boardroom meetings online while nestled in their bedrooms and living rooms.

Employees are spared the stress and strain of endless hours spent on commuting, the hassle of it all and are more relaxed. They can work, mind their children and homes, spend more quality time with loved ones and take on second and third jobs from the comfort of their homes.


For many, they realise perhaps for the first time just how to absent from their lives they have been, just how stifling clocking into and out from work has been and they see now that they can make more money while working less as work-at-home professionals, especially if they are independent contributors.

They can enjoy fuller lives, make more, enjoy more calm and live virtually anywhere that has reliable Wi-Fi connectivity — that’s a lot of places today.

It’s one of the most liberating experiences that the hitherto nine-to-five employees can have. The tables have turned. Employees have the upper hand. Many who work because they want to, are leaving at the slightest provocation or if employers attempt to have them physically go back to work even on a hybrid model.

Replacing them isn’t easy — people like them will no longer be tethered to a desk and they cost more. Like it or not, employers are going to require a much different approach to relating to their workers — a partnership approach rather than a top-down command.

As we cautiously walk into 2022, take a moment to reflect on what empowering learnings the last nearly two years offer you and leverage it for what you want out of your work relationship. This rare opportunity may not come around again in a long while.

Happy New Year!