Global Coalition on Aging addresses new approaches to providing guidance to employees, customers and all stakeholders
25 June 2021 – The Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA) today released a new report, Employers’ Role in the COVID-19 Environment: Winning in the Vastly Changed World of Work. It highlights the unique convergence between the megatrend of aging and the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace and offers insights to inform employers’ public health and workforce strategies at this intersection. Chief among the report’s key findings is the guidance to all employers “to elevate public health as a central feature of their culture and embed it into management.”
“As we all expect some semblance of a pre-COVID-19 world in the near future and as the World Health Organization and United Nations launch the Decade of Healthy Ageing, it is clear that public health must be a new focal point of every employer’s management strategy,” said Michael W. Hodin, PhD, CEO of GCOA. “Making public health a responsibility within the C-suite will be important, useful and socially responsible, and it will also align with every business’s self-interest.”
The report is based on multiple virtual roundtables from late March to December 2020, desk research, interviews, and analysis and insight development with experts within GCOA’s network. The report’s key advice for employers includes:
- Elevate the public health role internally. Just as so many companies have created the Chief Diversity or Chief Technology Officer, now is the moment to create the Chief Public Health Officer, who will have the right expertise and ask the right questions to advance the changes needed for success in the 21st-century aging world.
- Implement COVID-19 vaccination education programs. Valued, successful, and thoughtful employers will be active and engaged on their employees getting COVID-19 vaccinated. Such an employer will also then apply this to other prevention and wellness strategies to keep public health as a central driver of their value proposition.
- Improve upon childcare, elder care, financial planning, and other essential benefits. These employer benefits had already emerged as part of the new social contract prompted by the trends of longevity and population aging. In a COVID-19 work environment, employers will need to increase focus on solutions for caregiving and financial wellness, which will take on heightened importance.
- Enact new approaches to employee engagement and recruitment. COVID-19 makes it imperative for employers to develop new approaches to virtual hiring, onboarding, and skill and competency enhancement, to prepare for the virtual, multi-generational, and diverse workforce of the future.
- Listen to employees’ wants and needs. Without physical presence in many workplaces, employers will need to more actively seek out employees’ perceptions and concerns.
- Recognize that communications are closely linked to core operations. Enhanced employer communications – built on transparency and engendering trust – and new ways to maintain and measure employee engagement must be designed in the context of a global pandemic.
- Cultivate leadership skills. Especially during a sustained crisis, employers need a bench of senior leaders ready to take on the next crisis and support and align their employees in the process.
GCOA has been working with employers for 10 years to navigate the changing workplace and business environment brought by profound aging demographic shifts, which will continue for decades to come. From healthcare to the workplace, aging is the megatrend requiring major changes across society, and COVID-19, as with so much else, has become the accelerator for this trend.
“COVID-19 has highlighted what we have been observing through the lens of 21st-century aging: that a healthy aging workforce and a successful business are intimately linked,” said Hodin. “This report will be a guide for employers to create their own internal public health strategies so they can rapidly adapt, be flexible and win in the vastly changed world of work.”