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The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on society and the workplace is coinciding with a renewed quest for racial equity. The current situation is significantly impacting both our personal and professional lives. Novel times provide a time-sensitive opportunity for leaders to assess what kind of organization exists now and envision what the future workplace will and should become. This requires ample attention to employee well-being and a rededication to the values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Decisions that address employee concerns and promote DEI, collaboration and trust form the foundation of a strong, healthy culture that creates a resilient organization.

Leadership must be laser-focused on trust. Remote work is here to stay and employees returning to work are highly concerned about how this process is being handled. Korn Ferry Institute found that one in five employees did not want to return to the office at all, and 50% were concerned about the health risks of returning. The decisions around who returns to the office, how often they return, and how safety and hygiene will be assured will directly impact employee trust. Further complicating the management of the organizational culture, employees will most likely experience a combination of both days at home and in the office to comply with reduced workplace density and social distancing requirements. Leaders engender trust when they seek employee input and deeply imbed it into their decision-making process. Employees then see these decisions as sound, based on inclusion of their input combined with factual and scientific data within a transparent process.

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