The past 18 months has been a period of huge transformational change and uncertainty.
Over the course of a series of interviews with colleagues from across the business community we explored the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and how we might prepare for the new work opportunities that are starting to appear. There is a general recognition that the pandemic has accelerated a number of structural and systemic changes that were starting to emerge in our Western societies, particularly in terms of the digital revolution and the impacts of climate change.
During the series, we heard from Steven Turnbull, a Clinical Psychologist; Sheila Gunn, an experienced non-Executive; Martyn Link, a strategist working in the energy sector; Susan McInnes, a former Chief Executive in the financial sector; Sally Fraser, a Workplace Chaplain; Chris Horne, an adviser to the third sector; and three millennials, Kirsty Shaw, a solicitor; Ryan Bissoonauth, a project manager in the green energy sector; and Robbie Craig, a digital platform designer.
Our various panellists contributed enormously to our discussions on the “three Rs” of :
- Resilience – in which we covered physical and mental wellbeing; self-esteem and values; and much more
2. Re-skilling – in which we covered lifetime learning, communication skills as well as the impact of the digital economy and the new job opportunities created by climate change
- Relationships – in which we covered the importance of networks, both personal and business, role models and the opportunity for mentoring and buddying new colleagues.
The past year and a half has been extremely challenging for everyone, not least in terms of our mental wellbeing. In our first interview in this series, psychologist Steven Turnbull compared the pandemic to a bereavement and the five stages of grieving – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance – that many of us have either gone through or are in process of doing so. He also gave us some practical tips on how to enhance our resilience during periods of stress or anxiety, including the importance of having a daily routine, eating and sleeping well and taking regular exercise. A number of our other guests also referred to exercise and Kirsty Shaw highlighted how mindfulness and meditation can be a great stess-buster. Susan McInnes talked about the importance of trying to remain positive during periods of change while Sally Fraser observed that no two individuals will experience the same response when facing life’s challenges.
We noted that as well as dealing with the health and economic fallout of the pandemic, we’re about to make a fairly rapid transition towards a much greener and more sustainable economy as we aim to meet our net zero carbon targets by 2045 and deliver a fairer, greener, and more equal society. The importance of re-skilling and upskilling the workforce of Scotland was seen as a necessary enabler for the re-building of our economy. Susan McInnes talked of the need for companies to incorporate “Environmental, Social and Governance” considerations within their organisational DNA if they are to remain successful and attract talent. Martyn Link outlined the opportunities for job creation in those sectors of the economy that can respond effectively to the challenges of climate change. Ryan Bissoonauth shared some of his own experience in moving jobs and the transferable skills that make for a smoother transition.
One of the biggest challenges for many companies and their employees has been the rapid shift from office to home working. This has required new infrastructure, digital skills and a very different approach to staff management and training. Robbie Craig noted that he had never met in person over half of the members of his team. Chris Horne talked about how employers and employees will need to continue to adapt their ways of working as we return to a “hybrid” model with time spent in various combinations of home, office and remote locations.
During a period of transformational change and uncertainty, the quality of our relationships is even more important than normal, not least of all from a work perspective, where our support network is extremely important. One of the ideas that we heard was that having a mentor or offering to mentor someone else can be a great way of both receiving as well as giving practical support and encouragement during periods of transformational or significant change.
Robbie Craig talked about the importance of being intentional with our time and making the effort to cultivate relationships with our colleagues. Both Steven Turnbull and Marytn Link highlighted the importance of their Christian faith in giving them a sense of purpose and reassurance. Sally Fraser highlighted that many people simply want to be listened to and to know that they are valued and appreciated.
A huge thanks to everyone who took part in the interview series. Highlights from all of the interviews in the series can be found on the business matters’ Facebook page or on You Tube – search “Business Matters Edinburgh”.