Never-Normal: It’s the End of the World as We Knew It


The Great Resignation. Turn-over tsunami. The new normal. Unprecedented. Pivot. Agile. These are all buzzwords from the pandemic that shook our world almost three years ago. Whichever way you describe it, the reality is our work – both the way we do it and the companies we work for – will never be “normal” again. WE will be the “never-normal” workforce!

Depending on whether you have completely restructured where your employees work to a remote, on-premise or hybrid model, the word “workplace” has a different meaning. This has impacted millions of workers across the globe. Just think about all those years that companies built firewalls to make off-premise access impossible. When the pandemic hit, this had to be reversed in days at best or weeks at worst, and the reversal resulted in a complete paradigm shift, including of employee expectations.

The technology necessary to compete in this “buy anywhere, deliver within 24 hours” customer-experience model has motivated companies to invest millions in digital transformation. Supply chain challenges have made our prior best practices irrelevant and forced us to re-create new, more efficient ways to produce and source our goods and services. These are just a few examples of the common changes that companies (and workers) have experienced.

Many companies can’t afford the investment required by the “never-normal” work environment. We’ve seen companies make the investments but not realize the return on investment. Some companies watched their once-celebrated cultures wash away and become “no culture” cultures. Many companies continue to struggle to find and retain top talent, when talent is the one thing that sets the best companies apart from competitors.

Looking forward, we foresee companies that don’t address these challenges losing their customer market share because they didn’t do things “right.” “What happened?” will be the question many board members and CEOs will be asking – especially as we see the plans created in reaction to these major disruptions fail to produce the expected results.

The Value of Change Management Strategies

The difference between success and failure in these examples is having an effective change management strategy to accompany the massive shifts in our world today. A good strategy provides overall direction as well as the key organizational change management (OCM) components needed to achieve user adoption: stakeholder management, organizational alignment, communication, education and sustainment. Without this, companies can become part of the 70% failure rate in transformations today. All these components inform the transformation communications, education and change activities, enabling design and execution of the strategy to support an organization throughout the change journey. 

Whether you are embarking on a digital transformation, a merger or acquisition, a completely new supply chain process or a complete change in your culture, change management is key to obtaining the results you seek. Change management is THE game changer every leader needs to achieve successful change in your organization. And if we’ve learned anything since March 2020, it’s that building change resiliency and competency in YOUR PEOPLE is critical. In today’s world, change is like the waves in the ocean; they are going to just keep coming. Change truly is our only constant. You should be asking yourself and your organization: how are you going to become more change capable?

Investing in Your People

The good news is that human resiliency has increased as a result of the pandemic. People did things they never thought possible. Now, you have to translate that resiliency into benefits for your company. How do you harness the make-it-work spirit, the heightened desire to contribute and the new interest in creating a freer, more flexible way to work? Home commutes from room to room are far less stressful, after all – what can a less stressed employee do?

What you do next will determine if you will win or lose. Think about the changes you have planned.  How certain are you that you will yield the results you are going after? Will your employees be prepared and productive in order to help you accomplish the goals of the change? Will you lose top talent because they don’t understand your vision or are feeling disengaged and frustrated from a lack of support? If you are unsure about any of these questions, we would love to set up a 30-minute conversation on how we can help. Be our next “winning” client: answer these questions with confidence and get the results you want. We will help make your business, your culture and your customer experience the BEST there is in today’s “never-normal” world. 


About the author

Beth Thomas

Beth Thomas

Beth has more than 25 years of experience specializing in Transformational Business Change & Readiness, Leadership, Learning & Development, Culture Shaping and Employee Engagement. Her book, POWERED BY HAPPY, and the accompanying workshop, has guided her efforts and services in helping organizations shape productive cultures and employee engagement.

Beth previously served as Senior Vice President at JP Morgan Chase where she led the retail organization’s Learning & Change Management department across the country in support of their branch network. In addition, Beth served as the Head of Knowledge & Service Management for all Limited Brands, where she led Organizational Change, Learning & Service Management activities.

Beth is a globally recognized thought leader whose work has been recognized all over the world and she’s served as a trusted advisor to many Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, Beth’s professional work has been recognized with national awards and in several globally circulated magazines, newsletters and blogs. She is a contributing author on four books: On Demand Learning (Darin Harley), Implementing eLearning (Jay Cross and Lance Dublin), Learning Rants, Raves and Reflections (Elliott Masie), and Lies About Learning (Larry Israelite).