Posted: 14 Aug. 2020 4 min. read

Managing a Resilient Workforce

By Daniel Robles-Olson

Daniel is a strategy manager, Deloitte Consulting LLP, in its Government and Public Sector practice based in Atlanta, GA and is originally from Mexico. He has been spending his time at home reading, attempting to do his own home repairs, playing with his chocolate lab Jefe, and enjoying spending additional time with his wife.

What does it mean to be optimistic today? If you are in the United States, as I am, COVID-19 cases are on a rapid rise, the fight for racial justice feels more urgent than ever, and what could be the worst economy in a hundred years is leaving many of our friends and family with no jobs or livelihoods. As I write this, there do not seem to be many causes for optimism.

As I pick up the Deloitte Global 2020 Millennial Survey, I am struck by how, during the pandemic, we (millennials and Gen Zs) have become more optimistic about climate change and have reinforced our desire to help drive positive change in the world. This validates something I see every day: we are a resilient generation capable of weathering societal-level upheaval and workplace disruptions. My colleagues and I smoothly transitioned from the office to home as our client workplaces closed, integrated new technology into our day-to-day, and continued delivering excellent client service.

My major focus as a manager over the last few months has been to ensure my team continues to feel motivated, healthy, and engaged. I am lucky to be supporting public sector clients with a direct link to making a positive impact on our society. The 2020 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey reinforces my commitment to lead with three guiding principles:

Prioritize health and wellness: As a generation that entered the workforce during the 2008 recession and now is working through an economic collapse brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, our professional careers have been affected by significant stressors on society as a whole. Despite this, “in the primary survey, only 44% of millennials globally (and 38% of Gen Zs) who took time off work because of stress or anxiety issues admitted that was the reason to their employers. Most—especially women, who were significantly less likely than men to admit the cause of their absences (54% to 45%)—cited other reasons. Millennials who were candid about their absences were three times as likely to say their organizations provided strong mental health support (52%) rather than little or no support (16%).” These numbers are of great concern to me as a manager and tell me that I need to continue to support my team in prioritizing work-life fit. Well-being can be a key to success. Showing an interest and a commitment to health and wellness can create a more motivated and productive workforce. This has meant making sure we take team wellness breaks and do some physical activity as a group – like Arms of Joy – a 15-minute daily routine where our team gets up and participates in arm exercises, in-person originally and now virtually.

Support innovation: The silver lining to these societal stressors has been an incredible resilience and drive millennials and GenZ have to innovate from within Deloitte. However, “in the primary survey, barely half of millennials (51%) said business is a force for good, down from 76% just three years ago and 55% last year. Five months later—while offering flattering opinions of companies’ pandemic response—only 41% of millennials (and 43% of Gen Zs) in agreed that business in general around the world was having a positive impact on wider society.”  I have seen how my project teams are enthusiastic about using innovative practices and bringing them to clients because they see themselves as agents of change. The result of opening the door for upward feedback and innovation is better client delivery, a more engaged workforce, and new ways to help solve ongoing client problems that I often miss. More importantly, it brings to bear the capacity of Deloitte to be a force for good for our clients in GPS.  For my team, this has meant encouraging them to learn about new technologies or upcoming disruptive forces, taking advantage of our firm thought leadership, how they might impact our team, and how we can bring this to bear to our clients.

Lead with values: The days of hiding our authentic selves at work are hopefully numbered. In accepting that we all must bring our authentic selves to work, it is important that we also be clear about what we stand for as managers and employers. The Millennial Survey found that “job loyalty rises as businesses address employee needs, from diversity and inclusion to sustainability and reskilling. In the primary survey, more millennials said they’d like to stay with their employers for at least five years than would prefer to leave within two years. This is unprecedented since Deloitte Global first asked this question in the 2016 survey.” In the last month, we have begun having courageous conversations at work, acknowledging our biases and how they can have an impact and ways to identify and address them. I will not always do this perfectly, but my goal is to help foster a workplace (virtual or physical) that is inclusive and value-driven so that: everyone feels comfortable with the work we are delivering; employees stay at Deloitte for longer because they see us tackling society’s largest problems; and we deliver impact we are proud of.

Millennials and Gen Zs hold the key to creating a “better normal”. Explore more about the Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020.