Our research into this article reviewed the top culture and workplace
trends for 2021. While we identified a range of issues, the following
are the ones we think will matter most:
- The employee experience and mental wellbeing is crucial
**If there’s a silver lining about 2020, it’s that the discussion
on mental health is here to stay. Since the beginning of the
outbreak, employers and employees have had more open conversations
about mental health. Now, more than ever, employee wellness is a
priority for employers. It’s easy to see why — with so much fatigue
in the workplace, the risk of burnout is higher than ever. But, on
the flip side, employers that support their employees report a 23%
increase in employees with better mental health and a 21%
increase in the number of high performers. **
- Work flexibility is more than just location
Last year, we predicted that the increasing demand for flexibility
would lead to more remote working. While the pandemic certainly
accelerated that option, COVID-19 has shown that we need to be
flexible with when our people work, not just where.
- Your boss may be watching you
An unfortunate side effect of the mass shift to remote working is
the startling number of companies that have implemented tools that
passively track and monitor their employees. This highly
invasive process of tracking ‘productivity’ erodes trust and fuels
tensions. Less than 50% of employees trust their companies with
their data, and 44% don’t receive any information about the data.
- **Companies look to contractors to fill skill gaps
**With the relentless pace that the business world progresses, it’s
become increasingly difficult for companies to fill gaps in the
organization. 31% of businesses surveyed by Gartner reported that
they can’t create skill development solutions fast enough to meet
evolving needs. Instead of cultivating these talents in-house or
hiring long-term solutions, many will seek to ‘rent’ employees for a
short period to fill the skill gaps they face.
What these workplace trends mean for your company culture
Accelerated by the onset of the pandemic, these major workplace trends
result from ongoing pressure for change. However, one thing is clear, we
need to be intentional about the core of our business practices and
services. People are burning out, and having too many goals will only
lead to more problems (not greater "employee engagement").
Therefore, succeeding in 2021 is a question of empowering your employees
to act for themselves. Here’s how you can succeed.
Flexibility – the winning way
While 2020 forced businesses to work remotely, the new frontier of
flexible work will be when people work, rather than where. The
pandemic exposed the fact that not everyone’s work schedules are the
same — with mothers taking a disproportionate share of the burden. Time is a
precious commodity, and because of pandemic circumstances not everyone
can work the same hours. Gartner’s 2020 ReImagine HR Employee
Survey showed that only
36% of people performed well at organizations with the standard 40-hour
week, while 55% succeeded at organizations with more flexible working
Developing flexibility is about developing efficient resilience. This
could mean identifying new skills, promoting internal development or
reaching out to contract workers to fill specific gaps. It could also
mean adopting a ‘sprint’ approach with regular reflection points to keep
projects on track.
Empower your people, don’t spy on them
It’s the nightmare of an authoritarian state — constant surveillance and
little privacy — but there certainly is a lure. After all, leaders need
to make sure that their teams work consistently and push their projects
forward. However, deceptively installing monitoring software won’t build
It may seem strange that Friday Pulse will speak out against monitoring.
After all, we’re a company that helps monitor how people feel and work
with each other. But the key difference is that Friday Pulse asks people
to actively participate with the purpose of helping them become better
leaders and happier in their work life. It’s a platform for open and
responsive discussions for the development of leaders, not surveilling
In this light, we encourage companies to trust their employees. As one
of the Five Ways to Happiness at Work, trusting and allowing employees to set
their own working hours and have more personal freedom, enables them to
do great work rather than just work.
Develop the employee experience
Companies that will survive – and perhaps thrive – in 2021 will not only
have to mitigate threats, but also seize opportunities. However, we
often don’t identify when we’re overwhelmed or feeling burned out. This
is where a positive employee experience that is sensitive to the needs
of individuals works incredibly well.
One of the most common complaints we’ve heard about companies trying to
improve their employee experience is that they have no idea if it’s
working. Though more than 60% of US businesses offer a wellbeing program of some degree, few
have clear definitions on wellbeing and ways to track it (if only
there were a way to track that kind of improvement).
What is the return on investment when you build a fitness centre,
install a pool table or provide free snacks? Most organizations simply
don’t know, and now that many of us are working from home these physical
incentives seem even more off track.
Companies need to recognize that employee experience is more about “how”
we work — how we can work well and live well. Relationships are an
essential part of this experience. Collaboration, coordination and
communication are all dependent on healthy and strong relationships.
Sometimes it is about working less (a scary thought, we know) and
spending more time with each — even remotely during lockdown. It’s about developing
‘pandemic soft-skills’ and how to better work with one another.
There isn’t a one-off solution to improving your company’s culture. You
actively need to manage your employee experience. Friday Pulse is
designed to help companies look at the strengths of their workplace
culture, and identity and improve on any weaknesses. For more
information, please reach out to us today. We’d love to help make your 2021 your best