Here are some key quotes from my latest podcast with HR specialist David Lewis, Founder and CEO of OperationsInc, discussing the challenges of managing through COVID and it impact on the future of employee-employer relations:

“I stuck with [building an HR consulting business], which is not normal in this space.  You don’t see people that tend to grow these types of businesses, not early in the career, and I was only 35 at the time. But here I was with a whole bunch of clients, and now the need to start hiring people. And it just sort of took off from there.”

“Everybody’s looking for that sexy story about how you take the third mortgage on your house, and you go get the credit cards, and you max those out, and you do what you thought about doing for 20 years. None of those things were true.”

“It’s always fascinating to me how we’ve gone from being like everybody else, you know, dealing with a pandemic, for the first time, to suddenly being known as national subject matter experts in what it’s like to manage COVID-19 in your workplace.”

“In the business that we’re in, we’re trusted advisors.  People call us and they’re asking us half the time, ‘what do we think’ and half the time, ‘what’s everybody else doing’? That’s what consulting seems to be all about.”

“The best decision we made was we moved away from a paid webinar basis where we charged for that access to get our thought leadership [on COVID]. And we just opened the doors up completely and said ‘everybody can come in, there’s no charge.’ So we didn’t charge a thing for the webinars.”

“We saw a lot of companies make some pretty significant errors. And you know, ‘the CEO doesn’t think this is a big deal. So therefore, everybody should be back at work and should not be worried about this.’  We’re still seeing a lot of that today.”

“The second [lesson] was that this [remote work] wasn’t nearly as difficult as I think people anticipated.”

“The comp thing is fascinating. Now, it’s easier to answer the comp questions for 2025 than it is to answer for 2022.”

“You’re going to see companies that are going to pay a differential for the employee who actually makes the commute. And, you know, the reason is because it’s going to cost them more to do that job.”

“A lot of companies, including ours, have started to go ahead and hire out of market and are seeing that come to fruition. But that’s a game changer.”

“The companies that sit there and say, ‘No, no, no, we knew we did this. We did this out of necessity, but business happens here. Here is this office, this is where you need to go.’ Those companies are going to find in significant abundance that they are not in the control they think they are.”

“What we’re talking about in terms of the competitive landscape rules have changed. The competition before was the 10 or 15 employers within a 25 mile radius of my office in 2019.  And 2022, the competition is across the entire country.”

“Organizations are going to have to be thoughtful about what structure they let people from home use, versus how that matches up with those people that are in the office.”

“We’re advising clients to consider things like for example, somebody takes a week off because they’re going on vacation, great. Now at five o’clock on the day that they are starting their vacation, turn off their server access.”

“Employers that get this [returning to the office] wrong are the ones that take sort of the dictatorial approach of saying ‘we know what’s best for our business, therefore, we’re going to tell you what we’re going to be doing.’ Those are the companies that are going to see higher turnover.”