Strong economies are built often off strong ideals more than strong models

67% hope that it will be a different workplace post-pandemic, that lessons will have been learnt.

It is important that we do understand that things were less than perfect pre-covid and there are lessons to learn.

· 15.4m days were lost in 2018 due to stress, anxiety and depression

· 47% of middle management are stressed financially.

· 40% of employees feel lonely at work. £6000 health cost per person suffering from loneliness

· 22% of 14-year-old girls self-harm

· 1:7 children aged 11 to 16 bet regularly

· 1.25m people suffer from an eating disorder

It isn’t a great picture. It can’t be solved overnight but there can be greater awareness that there is work to do.

The good news is that 67% today note that they hope that leaders too have reflected and want to also see a change in the post-pandemic world.

As we come closer to almost seeing the end of lockdown, there is a growing hope that we will witness a return to the workplace and a real bounce in the economy. People do want to see a return to work and to offices but they also want to see the better approach that has been well discussed over the last year. They don’t want to return to how it was pre-covid; but then again, neither do bosses. The truth is that all need to change and raise the bar so we can see that bounce.

As the stats above indicate, leaders have been heavily criticised in recent years and most will have read about the lack of trust that does exist with Forbes citing an average 63% of employees not trusting in their leadership teams across the world. Leadership had lost its way but the pressure on leaders too had increased immeasurably over the last decade and they felt constantly under pressure. There was a report in 2019 that noted that over 60% of leaders felt they were not in control of events, felt under pressure and suffering from anxiety.

Anxiety seems to have had become the order of the day. Everyone was under pressure from the graduate starting off with a heavy level of student debt to the CEO. The pressure is all part of life and that is not going to go away but maybe something important had been lost which countered these pressures and made it bearable? People do need ideas, they need to believe in the purpose of an organization, in the purpose of what can be achieved beyond just making money.

Many argue that ideals are for the naïve but history shows ideals create stronger societies and productivity. The US and UK enjoyed strong post-war booms as they sought to build stronger societies again and had a belief in building something better. The UK found the founding of the NHS, the welfare state and free secondary education. The 1960s was one of the greatest social eras and it was dominated by strong ideals. Even the 1980s had its ideals at the core of a strong economy. Strip ideals away and people do not perform strongly.

One can argue that the naïve believe in idealism but the stats from the last ten years only tell the story of a struggling business environment that few enjoyed. It is understandable that many want to see better.

All the research emerging tells us that people want to see a more compassionate, value-led approach to work where companies do:

· Play an active role in their communities

· In working with schools to nurture the young

· Play an active role in being environmentally friendly and in supporting strong behaviours that will create positive change

· Greater support and compassion towards people

· Companies possessing strong values which do sit at the heart of actions and behaviours.

It is easy to argue that the success of the 2010-19 era was recovery from the Great Financial Crash on 2007/8 but the truth that the recovery had been completed by 2014 but behaviours both between 2000-2007 and from 2014-19 were both dominated at board level by growth and results. Regardless of Covid, a major problem was already coming down the tracks as so many were disengaged and suffering from mental health, stress and ill-health. It was not a great place. No one ever talked about having fun at work anymore. Productivity was in decline and talent was not breaking through.

One can argue the case but ideals are important. People do want to believe in their leaders again but first, there must be strong ideals and values held up. It is an unifying force and makes people want to do and be better.