Silver Linings: the pandemic has one too

At first glance, the ‘lockdown generation’ might seem to be heading into a very uncertain future. I personally have children who haven’t taken their GCSEs and may very well not take their A Levels, so it would be easy to think they may struggle with motivation and employment in the future.

However, a regular school event has made me turn this assumption on its head and think differently.

An annual speech competition which my kids are involved in set a theme in 2020 of ‘silver linings’. Potentially a tricky one to feel engaged about but, on reflection, one that has resulted in some incredible realisations for me and my family.

The future of work

We keep hearing this phrase and it’s easy to immediately think of zoom calls, remote workers and no more commuting. However, I’ve now started considering the generation most affected by this and why they will be an exciting future for the world of work.

You see, they are benefitting from something other than traditional qualifications. They are learning skills such as agility, resilience and how to deal with uncertainty and ambiguity.

Although we don’t necessarily include these skills anywhere in curriculum learning, they are, in fact, all in the list of attributes that businesses look out for, especially when recruiting top talent.

So, is this a silver lining that none of us saw coming? Could there be a convergence of supply and demand when it comes to future leadership talent?

A world served up on a plate

One of the main criticisms that’s been levelled at the ‘youth of today’ is that they have access to everything and anything. Our world is never ‘off’; everything is immediate and disposable. Adaptability has suffered as a result and expectations end up mismatched when young people enter adulthood.

The lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 have certainly needed adaptability and, with the help of technology, we’ve all adjusted our approach and found a way through. But there’s been a lot of press coverage about the misfortunes of the ‘lost generation’ and very little reference to anything positive that might come out of the pandemic instead. Silver linings are always there if you know how to look for them.

Leveraging the silver lining

For years now, organisations have been talking about the need for agility; for a type of leader who can create and nurture a culture which embraces change and constantly innovates for improvement. Suddenly, we find ourselves looking at a unique population: those who have experienced a period of time like no other and found themselves still standing at the end of it.

For firms who are recruiting, this is an amazing opportunity. The need for businesses to continually evolve and refocus has also been laid bare by the pandemic and these skills are now there to be nurtured. This resonated with me because I coach a lot of young adults for whom it is very relevant but, of course, there’s also the chance for organisations to engage in coaching employees of all generations to bring out these skills, which will have been learnt by all those affected.