New Year, New Power Dynamics
Updated: Jan 20, 2022
I remember a day in June 2020, when a few people around me were mentioning how things were going back to normal. “You’ll see, soon we’ll be going about our lives just like we did before this pandemic”. But what is back to normal? The normal of 2019 was not the normal of 2009, which was not the normal of 1999. Our lives are ever-changing, so why assume that a worldwide pandemic won’t shift our society’s thoughts and actions?
This shift became clear to me towards the summer of 2021. My friends who work in hospitality were telling me that their restaurants were closing due to a shortage of chefs. It wasn’t just that they couldn’t find the right kitchen staff, it was more the fact that these chefs were quitting their jobs on the spot during busy lunch shifts. And so these restaurants had adapt their menus and ended up changing the quality of the dishes a to a lesser standard, so they could be prepared by anyone. The same was happening in other industries: employees quitting the jobs that they hated or leaving companies that treat them badly.
Our priorities and attitudes have massively changed. Not only do we understand the importance of having a good work-life balance and flexible work arrangements, but we are also finally starting to value ourselves. If there’s one thing the pandemic has thought us, it’s that nothing is certain and the whole world can change overnight. So why do we want to spend our precious time being overworked, underpaid, unappreciated, with poor management and inflexible work conditions? Especially when there are so many good work places with great managers that can bring out the best in us.
I’m not saying we should all quit our jobs or demand higher pay, though this shift in power dynamics is not such a bad thing. In most cases, hierarchy is an unavoidable part of the work, so it’s not about abolishing this dynamic. It’s rather about moderating through empathy and equity. Most of us are finally able to be selective about the jobs/projects that we do, demand more respect for our work and be vocal about what we want. And hopefully, these changes will slowly shift the competitive workplace hierarchy to a mutually respectful and inclusive environment.