19 January 2022
If this column is a barometer of our working lives, 2021 was a year of bad bosses and continued pandemic interruption alongside a decent dose of generous gestures helping those in need.
More than 100 questions featured on last year’s pages of Got a Minute? from workers across a range of industries. Fifty-seven per cent of questions came from women. Software engineers, carpenters, boat builders, academics, former police officers and union officials were just some of the occupations we heard from.
One perennial issue that dominated the letters I received: poor leadership.
We heard from readers dealing with bosses who bullied them, harassed them or who were aggressive in their emails. We heard about bosses who sent emails at all hours of the night, who talked over team members in meetings, and bosses who didn’t communicate on important issues. Also, bosses who fired people by email with no feedback at all.
We heard about bosses who did not wear masks in the office despite them being mandatory, bosses who openly shared their anti-vaccination views or who forced people back into the office despite hesitations from employees about COVID safety.
We heard from readers upset about having to take on additional work as colleagues who were also parents were balancing their children’s home schooling. At the same time, we heard from parents struggling with bosses who did not appreciate the challenges of balancing working from home and schooling their kids from home.
We heard from those who loved working from home and were anxious about returning to the office as well readers who hated working from home and could not get back to the office soon enough.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic impacted everyone in different ways during 2021.
Yet 2021 also showed us the generosity of you, dear reader, as you read this column and heard about the challenges others faced.
When an older, experienced lawyer found himself redundant from a job he loved, a law firm got in touch to say they were keen to hire him. When a man with English as a second language said he had trouble writing emails, offers of assistance flooded in, including free personal tuition.
When someone wrote that they were struggling to find employment after submitting their resume for hundreds of jobs, a career coaching company offered to help advise this person and review their resume for free. When a boatbuilder asked about not having a pay rise in years, he was connected to a new online jobs website for the boatbuilding industry.
The question of whether a job change is the right move during the uncertainty of the pandemic will continue in 2022 as the predictions of a Great Resignation unfold. I expect people will question the work they are doing, the recognition they receive and the purpose their work holds in their life.
I suspect we will also see issues arising between colleagues as hybrid work becomes more common and there will be flashpoints of tension between those working from home and those in the office. The concept of hybrid work and working from anywhere has received plenty of attention and 2022 will be the year we learn the extent to which it becomes reality. The impact of the pandemic on our working lives and the unprecedented changes we have all experienced have a long way to run yet.
And all of this will be exacerbated by bad bosses who, unfortunately, will continue to be a theme in 2022 if we reward and promote leaders who do not put people at the centre of their decision making. Never has having modern leaders who can lead with both their head and heart been more important.
Next Wednesday, Got a Minute? returns to answer your burning questions on work, career and leadership. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and rest assured, your question will always be treated anonymously.