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COVID-19 and the Workforce

The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly transformed our society in ways we never imagined. From our daily interactions to the way we work and do business, the pandemic has certainly left its mark. It is an unfortunate reality that throughout history pandemics have impacted the ways our societies operate and our attitudes towards business and labor.


For instance, the Black Plague in 1350 had a significant impact on labor attitudes and compensation across Western Europe, resulting in laws being changed. Similarly, the Flu pandemic of 1918 led to widespread protests among working-age adults, culminating in significant changes to job conditions. Despite the unprecedented accessibility to media and coverage of the struggles faced by individuals during COVID-19, the similarities seen throughout history remain.


The changing environment presents a unique opportunity to rethink how we approach work. The pandemic has created innumerable physical and psychological challenges, forcing individuals to balance their health with the need to work amid business uncertainty. Significant changes were made in a very short period of time to keep people as safe as possible and society functioning. While some of those changes were excellent, others needed to be reevaluated. Nevertheless, it demonstrated an incredibly valuable societal element: that there are numerous ways of accomplishing a task or a goal, some of which we have yet to discover.


In May of 2020, the journal Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice published a paper identifying ten areas in the workforce that have been and will continue to be impacted by COVID-19. These areas include occupational health and safety, work-family issues, telecommuting, virtual teamwork, job insecurity, precarious work, leadership, human resources policy, the aging workforce, and careers. While not novel concepts, they were significantly impacted during the global battle with the COVID crisis and are identified as the strongest contenders for the necessity of change as an outcome of the pandemic. Thus, it is imperative to study these areas for future reference and best practices. I strongly encourage you to read the full article HERE to get a better understanding of each of these areas and how to address them.


While this new normal has presented us with many challenges, it has also given rise to numerous

opportunities for innovation. I/O Psychology is a field that can help us navigate these difficult times by providing specialized research and innovative approaches. To ensure future success, it is important to continually study the identified areas of impact and implement best practices, as both employees and employers are affected in various ways. No matter the size or industry of your company, the information gathered from such studies can significantly improve your working environment. It is for this reason that I strongly encourage further research into the areas identified in the paper to support the implementation of best practices.



References


Rudolph, C.W., Allan, B., Clark, M., Hertel, G., Hirschi, A., Kunze, F., Shockley, K., Shoss, M., Sonnentag, S., & Zacher, H. (2020). Pandemics: Implications for Research and Practice in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice.

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