In a post-pandemic world, we need a new social contract for work


Over the past few years, the cost of living has risen significantly while wages have failed to keep up. Meanwhile, the pandemic has sparked a mental health crisis and widened the digital divide. In order to prepare for the future of work, companies will need to create a new social and psychological contract with their employees that rewards and benefits in order to attract and retain talent. They will need to also rethink their approach to work and create more flexible and fluid models in order to become more agile.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the mental and physical toll work can take on employees, and nearly 21% of American adults were already experiencing mental health challenges prior to the pandemic. Since then, pandemic-related disruptions have contributed to employees' ongoing mental health challenges, with many U.S. companies reporting indications of burnout. To address these concerns, companies must find ways to adequately support their employees' mental health to avoid burnout and attract and retain talent, as workers cite mental health support as an important factor in their future work and career decisions. 

Most organizations have established support systems to address employees' mental health concerns, such as increasing accessibility to assistance programs, offering access to mental health apps, and providing on-demand virtual care. Additionally, companies should take a holistic approach to mental health benefits that considers the impacts of physical health on mental well-being, such as providing predictable working hours, fair compensation, and flexible work arrangements. 

The pandemic has also accelerated existing trends in automation and digitization, requiring both workers and employers to align with demands for new skills. To remain competitive in the labor market and attract top talent, companies must provide resources for acquiring new skills and foster a culture that embraces continuous learning. Additionally, the Good Work Alliance, a global cross-industry initiative, is leveraging private and public sector, academic, and civil society expertise and input to help create a fair and inclusive future of work. 

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